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For 15-year-old Michael Berg, a chance meeting with an older woman leads to far more than he ever imagined. The woman in question is Hanna and before long they embark on a passionate, clandestine love affair which leaves Michael both euphoric and confused. For Hanna is not all she seems. Years later, as a law student observing a trial in Germany, Michael is shocked to realize that the person in the dock is Hanna. The woman he had loved is a criminal. Much about her behaviour during the trial does not make sense. But then suddenly and terribly, it does - Hanna is not only obliged to answer for a horrible crime, she is also desperately concealing an even deeper secret.
"Berhard Schlink's extraordinary novel The Reader is a compelling meditation on the connections between Germany's past and its present, dramatised with extreme emotional intelligence as the story of a relationship between the narrator and an older woman. It has won deserved praise across Europe for the tact and power with which it handles its material, both erotic and philosophical" - Independent Saturday Magazine.
"Leaps national boundaries and speaks straight to the heart...a moving, suggestive and ultimately hopeful work" - New York Times.
"Readers of this book - thousands, one hopes - will understand the nature of atonement when they have finished it" - Daily Telegraph.
"Deeply moving, sensitive enough to make me wince, a Holocaust novel, but light years away from the common run" - Sunday Telegraph.
"The Reader by Bernard Schlink is the German novel I have been waiting for: it objectifies the Holocaust and legitimately makes all mankind responsible" - Sir Peter Hall, Observer.