I was delighted to win a copy of this book in Brighton Blogger's Italy in Reading Challenge last year. I'm now reviewing for her 2012 Reading Challenge. Most of my reviews for that challenge will be over on Crafty Green Poet with the theme of nature and environment. This book doesn't fit that theme so I'm reviewing it here.
Portrait of the Mother as a Young Woman is a beautiful meditation on loneliness, innocence and loss in Rome during the Second World War. The narrative follows the thoughts of a young, pregnant German woman as she walks from her home to a church where she is going to a musical recital. Her husband is with the German army in Tunis and she thinks about him and their marriage as well as about her position in Rome as a foreigner during wartime.
I felt that the book was a perfect compliment to Elsa Morante's History. That book is much longer (around 700 pages to Portrait's 125) and has many more characters! However both focus on a woman who is quite innocent of world affairs and sees the war very much in terms of how it affects her life.
Portrait is in the form of one long sentence. This sometimes puzzled me as I could see many points in the narrative where full stops would have been useful. It also really made me wonder what the original German text looked like, given that in many contexts in German the verbs go at the end of a sentence.....
Portrait of the Mother as a Young Woman by Friedrich Christian Delius translated by Jamie Bulloch, published by Peirene Press
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