Today was very exciting as I found out about a book and a country that I had forgotten I had read. And to revisit this was quite something. This country I am now in is not one that I have visited much via literature and only once in real life so as I ropped the paper off the book, I smiled to myself and got ready to write about it and hopefully introduce this place and time to fellow booktrailers –
Set in 1920s Austria
Story in a nutshell – A poor, young postal worker, Christine gets the chance of a lifetime to have a very brief, but wonderfully transforming vacation from her poverty-stricken life.
It’s a tragic version of the Cinderella story, as in this version there is no glass slipper and no Prince Charming. Christine is given the chance to taste the luxury of a prince and all the trappings of a new life -but without getting her happy ending.
However, the novel is about so much more than this – it is the work of Stephan Zweig – not known in the English speaking world – but who is one of the best writers about the old Vienna of the 1920s. His own history – leaving Austria and finding refuge in England after Hitler comes to power only to commit suicide in 1942 alongside his wife due to the fear of a German victory in the war. Interestingly the tile in German is ‘The intoxication of transformation’ which I think gives a more honest description of what this book is actually about.
How would you feel if in the depths of despair, you were given the chance to lead your dream life only to have the bubble burst and your old life return?
But that’s the point – it wouldn’t come back exactly as it was – things would have changed – you have tasted what else exists out there. And that brings its own set of problems….
Read this for finding out Christine’s story and thinking what you would do in her circumstances.
But mainly read it for an introduction into life in Austria during the 1920s and a period of transformation and upheaval that Zweig captivates so well.