Summer Lies by Bernhard Schlink

Summer Lies by Bernhard Schlink

German fiction (short stories )

Translator – Carol Brown Janeaway

Source review copy

Now I am a huge fan  Schlink’s works ,he studied law and now is a professor of law  ,he  also writes crime fiction ,but for me it is his more literary options that always grab me .So when the chance to read this his latest collection of short stories I couldn’t turn it down .It was a perfect fit for both Lizzie and Caroline’s German Lit month ,but also the first Bernhard Schlink reading week which Judith over at Readers in the wilderness is hosting this week .This also follows the news last week that his most famous Novel The reader is one of the world book night choices for 2013 ,I ve already put it down as my first choice to give away .

He had arrived thirteen days before .The season was over ,and with it the good weather .It was raining ,and he spent the afternoon with a book on the covered porch of his bed and breakfast .When he made himself go out into the bad weather the next day to walk along the beach in the rain to the light house ,he first encountered the woman on the way there ,and then on the way back .

Richard and Susan meet on the story after the season .

Well to summer lies .Now my first question is do you ever give a book a theme song ?Well I’ve had a song for this book with the lyric along the lines of  summer days . but for the life of me I can’t place the song .But yes as I read sometimes a song helps me along .So back to the book summer lies is a collection of almost and what might have been .A very clever  collection of stories of what it is to be middle-aged  man and face those points we all have too at some point .We meet a couple  Richard and Susan in the first story He is a man who is set in his way the meets the lovely Heiress Susan on holiday and then wonders how he will fit this women in his everyday life .Elsewhere we see a professor looking into the abyss  as he has cancer .A middle-aged man takes his elderly father to a music festival .We see this as a way for the father and son to connect .A chance meeting on a plane will lead two lives off on different paths .

“I expect you’re pleased that the government …”

It sounded as if father wanted to launch into one of their customary political arguments .He didn’t let him finish .”I haven’t read the paper for days .Not til next week.Shall we take a walk on the beach ? His father insisted on reading the rest of the paper.But stopped trying to draw him into an argument .Finally he folded the paper and laid it on the table “Shall we ?”

The father and son at the Bach music festival looking to connect

This is collection I recall connect with ,something about men at a certain point in there lives .turning points in the path of life .I was reminded of the lines in the film history boys about turning points in history .These stories on the whole are about turning points can A man have a women in his life or not ,what will that decision make in his future (this your are not told but you do wonder ). The son and father will these new sense of closeness last or is it a fleeting moment to be remembered in the future .Schlink does a wonderful job of just revealing enough about each character and there lives to make the story work but just that these are lean stories ,he also has a great eye for the world around him . .These stories cover the world but the fact that the men in the stories seem to be all of a similar age you get a feel of connection via that .It was adapted for radio here recently ,but I thought this is the sort of collection that would make a great film along the lines of Magnolia or short cuts where each story can be jumped in and out off  could be strung into an earlier one .

Have you read Schlink ?

Do you theme songs to books ?


14 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. lizzysiddal
    Nov 12, 2012 @ 18:42:35

    My review will appear later this week, Stu.
    As for World Book Night, I was dismayed when I saw The Reader on the list. I’m not a fan. Don’t understand the fuss at all.


  2. Judith (Reader in the Wilderness)
    Nov 12, 2012 @ 21:06:07

    Thanks so much for participating in the Bernhard Schlink Week!

    It’s interesting. Though I’m a woman, I, too, connect fully with Schlink’s male leads in Summer Lies, just as I’ve resonated with the emotions and thoughts of the men in his novels. His male protagonists, I think, are fully realized people, which is probably why I have this experience reading Schlink. I experience the same connection with Paul Auster’s male protagonists.

    I’m very interested in your mention of The History Boys–I looked it up, and it seems to be one I must see right away. Will do!

    Judith (Reader in the Wilderness)


  3. JoV
    Nov 13, 2012 @ 09:23:46

    I love Sclink’s The Reader and wanted to read his other books. One day I’ll have to read more of his books!


  4. Tony
    Nov 13, 2012 @ 10:22:07

    I haven’t read any of his books yet, still not sure if I’d enjoy them. What do you recommend?


  5. whisperinggums
    Nov 13, 2012 @ 11:12:01

    Oh, I loved The reader … such a wonderful book of complex morality … the quotes you’ve given from this book make it sound like something I’d love to read.

    Summer lies? Sorry can’t help you there Stu. I’m not sure that I do think of songs for books but songs do pop into my head for all sorts of situations so I can see why they would for books too.


  6. Lindsay
    Nov 13, 2012 @ 11:18:21

    I loved The Reader and was delighted to see it on the WBN 2013 list. I’ve put it down as my first choice book too. Thank you for the reivew of this one, I would like to read something else by him.


  7. Katrina
    Nov 14, 2012 @ 14:03:00

    I haven’t read this one but I’ll look out for it, I will be discussing Homecoming later in the week. I do sometimes link books with songs but the word ‘summer’ is just conjuring up ‘summertime and the living is easy’ – wishful thinking at this time of the year.


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  9. Vishy
    Nov 20, 2012 @ 19:01:48

    Nice review, Stu! I didn’t know that a new Bernhard Schlink book has come out. I will look for this. All the stories you have written about sound quite fascinating. It looks like Schlink is wonderful at short stories too. I have read two books of his – ‘Homecoming’ and ‘The Reader’ – and liked both of them. I am planning to read ‘The Weekend’ and ‘Flights of Love’ soon. Thanks for the review.


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  11. Max Cairnduff
    Jan 07, 2013 @ 11:19:36

    I read The Reader, but I’m afraid that I’m in the camp that thought it forgettable and ultimately not that great (I’m with Lizzy in other words).

    Oh well, it would be dull if we all always liked the same books.


  12. Trackback: German Literature Month: Bernhard Schlink | Follow the Thread

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November 2012


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