Monday, 28 March 2011

Goodbye to Berlin

Title: Goodbye to Berlin

Author: Christopher Isherwood

Number of pages: 256

Started: 18 March 2011

Finished: 28 March 2011

Opening words:

From my window, the deep solemn massive street. Cellar-shops where the lamps burn all day, under the shadow of top-heavy balconied facades, dirty plaster frontages embossed with scrollwork and heraldic devices. The whole district is like this: street leading into street of houses like shabby monumental safes crammed with the tarnished valuables and second-hand furniture of a bankrupt middle class.

Plot summary:

Written as a connected series of six short stories the book, first published in 1939, is a brilliant evocation of the decadence and repression, glamour and sleaze of Berlin society. Isherwood shows the lives of people at threat from the rise of the Nazis: Natalia Laundauer, the rich, Jewish heiress, Peter and Otto, a gay couple andthe "divinely decadent" Sally Bowles, a young English woman who was so memorably portrayed by Liza Minnelli.

What I thought:

I really enjoyed this book. It was a series or short stories that formed a novel of sorts and was a really well written tale of Berlin in the 1930s. The short story about Sally Bowles, in particular, was a really beautifully written story and you felt the narrator’s loss at the end.

I found this novel far superior to its forerunner “Mr Norris Changes Trains” and each of the short stories were good enough to stand alone or as part of the collective. It was a very good and poignant read.

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