"...that indefinable smell of Berlin in March..."
The novel--or the characters at least--affect a certain cynicism about love: the stenographer Flämmchen (what a name! Joan Crawford in the movie) tells Baron Gaigern, "True love? There's no such thing," and says of the sexual act, "It was like having a tooth filled by a singularly incompetent dentist." Gaigern himself is quite calculating about love, until, maybe, he isn't. The novel itself is less certain about that cynicism, but still a little cynical. Do unexpected characters fall in love? "No," says the third-person narrator. "Life is very far from producing such delightful surprises." Yet, even so, some hearts might be warmed.
Closer to the feeling of the novel is a concern for money. Kriegelein, the bookkeeper, says at one point, "Only with money can you begin to be a decent human being." Which room you're in, what clothes you wear, career choices and life choices. All the characters think about money, and a possible corporate merger is one of the main plot threads.
It ends--but no spoilers!--with a big scene that involves all the major characters, even if one has already left town. Very enjoyable.
It's the week of the 1929 Club, hosted by Kaggsy and Simon, and this is very much a 1929 book...
This is on my Classics Club list. Will come back after reading it.ReplyDelete
Hope you like it when you get to it. I certainly did!Delete
Forgot to add, this is a wonderful line: ...that indefinable smell of Berlin in March...ReplyDelete
Some strange and interesting characters. It's interesting to read reviews on a whole lot of books I didn't know existed from 1929.ReplyDelete
It seems to have been a very good year.Delete
It's great, isn't it? I read it a while back and wasn't sure what to expect, but found it wonderfully written and very absorbing!ReplyDelete
It's a bit amazing it seemed to have gone out of print for a while.Delete
Grand Hotel is one of those books I put on my TBR list years ago, and then never did anything about. I'm glad to read your review of it. Maybe I'll try and read it as one of my classics next year. :)ReplyDelete
If I'd been more organized I could have counted it for Back to the Classics this year, but oh well... It's pretty fun.Delete
I've been wanting to read this ever since reading her Love & Death in Bali (1937) whilst holidaying in Bali in 2013. It was such a magnificent, sprawling read completely immersed in Balinese life and the conflict of colonisation, I'm curious to see what else she could do.ReplyDelete
And I haven't read that one, which sounds fascinating. Glad to hear it was good.Delete
Pretty sure I'd like this one.ReplyDelete
The only 1929 pub books I've read are Emil and the Detectives by Erich Kästner; Hitty: Her First Hundred Years; and The Squirrel, the Hare, and the Little Grey Rabbit. All are children's books, and all are part of my attempt to read all 1001 Children's Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up.
It is a fun one. I got Emil and the Detectives from the library but only finished it as the week was ending & didn't write about it. But I thought it was pretty entertaining (after a bit of a slow start).Delete