Review: The Notebook by Agota Kristof

The Notebook by Agota Kristof 3.5/5

Blurb:

Sent to a remote village for the duration of the war, two children devise physical and mental exercises to render themselves invulnerable to pain and sentiment. They steal, kill, blackmail and survive; others the cobbler, the harelipped girl who craves love, the children s parents are sucked into war s brutal maelstrom. The Notebook distils the experience of Nazi occupation and Soviet liberation during World War II into a stark fable of timeless relevance.

Review:

This book masterfully walks the thin line between entrancing and disturbing. The main characters- the twins- recount events during the second world war with a vivid, yet detached tone that reflects their amoral, almost inhuman approach to life. The boys train themselves with various exercises to be emotionally void.

The narrative is linear, but this is a bare bones, skeletal book with little place for relationship development. Each chapter is short, and is dedicated to a particular event. Each event is recounted in an impersonal, stoic manner, and although this is intended to remain in keeping with the emotionless personalities of the twins, it kept me at arms length, rather than fully submersing me.

Kristof’s portrayal of the war and the horrors faced by Claus and Lucas are explicit and real. There isn’t any pussy footing in the prose and that should be highly commended.


The opinions expressed here are those of K.J.Chapman and no other parties.

All books reviewed on this blog have been read by K.J.Chapman

K.J.Chapman has not been paid for this review.

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