Distant Signs

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 09 Oct 2019

Member Reviews

Breaks the mould of East German fiction - normal flawed folk living life as it was.  The sinister state remains in the background, but its impact is felt - without snesationalising it - nevertheless.  Also set  in Thuringia - a welcome change from Berlin.
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I did not finish this novel and I'm sorry to say that. It had a promising premise because I've read very few books that center around Germany after the war. Add in the fact that it spans different time frame and different people I wanted so much to come from it. But there was a problem, The book was too hard to get into. It felt a bit like stream of consciousness writing in the beginning and while it does help you get to know who the narrator is when it's done well it just left me a bit confused. Throwing the reader in the way this story did I felt like I was missing something or hadn't read the novel from the beginning because I was just confused by what was happening and it wasn't the best way to start something. So while I'm sure this novel will be enjoyable to others it just wasn't for me.
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This was a lovely book that will take a good amount of space in my head and a good amount of time to really come to grips with what it's all about.  There are more walls in our lives than those made of rebar and concrete, and there are more ways than sledgehammers to bring them down.  Generations impact each other, both up and down.  I don't know that I've read a more moving piece of postwar German fiction - and this includes Gunter Grass's best efforts.  This was almost alarming in the subtlety of Richter's writing; I found myself not just re-reading lines, but paragraphs or entire chapters to take in the beauty of how the phrasing could bring an entire thought or section together - I could offer comparisons left and right, but they would miss the mark.  I would wholeheartedly recommend this book to anyone wishing to see how an author has captured the spirit of the divided, then reunited, Berlin through common, yet uncommon, people. 

I almost forgot to offer a tip of the hat to the translator who did stellar work on this book - I offer that without having read the original German, but knowing as a translator myself that there were nuances and subtleties captured that could easily have easily been dismissed or overlooked by other translators.  Wonderful work. 

Sincere thanks to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for providing me with an advance reading copy  in exchange for this honest review.
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I found this difficult. The different vignettes were in themselves interesting, but following the overall arc of the story was a challenge.
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I had high hopes for this book as I can distinctly remember hearing on the news and hearing my parents talk about the Berlin Wall falling, but it just didn't draw me in.  I terrible at understanding how a book is written but I think this was written in 1st person and I always seem to have a hard time with that.  It seemed slow to me. I thought the writing was beautiful and very though provoking, so maybe this just wasn't the right time for me to be reading this book.  I remember so little about this time period that I thought learning about it through this book would be interesting, but unfortunately not at this time.  For the fact that it was beautifully written I see that this is a good book, just not right for me.
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This exquisite novel is a depiction of two families covering three generations amidst tempestuous political change. Margret and Hans, the middle generation and the main characters, struggle to contend with their different backgrounds, and the emotional scars they bear from childhood in the aftermath of WWII. Many segments of the narrative are full of tension, historical restrictions, and family misunderstandings. The plot covers aspects of WWII, the German Democratic Republic and the fall of the Berlin Wall. The reading is somewhat slow. I give it 3 stars out of 5.
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A family saga an involving story that kept me turning the pages.A time in history Berlin when the wall fell .Two families heartache drama relationships so well written highly recommend.
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I enjoyed this look at three generations of a familiy and how they were effected by WWII. It was an entertaining read. I hope to read more from this author soon. 

I would like to thank netgalley and the publisher for providing me with a copy free of charge. This is my honest and unbiased opinion of it
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Very slow but beautifully written literary fiction that made no sense to me.
We follow Margret and Hans, their parents and later their children. There are hints we're in Germany, but really, this could have been anywhere. 
Each chapter moves the timeline up a few years, which made me miss events. Suddenly the couple has two children? Suddenly someone returns from hospital after trying to take their own life? Somehow the Iron Curtain disappeared and now the daughter lives in France?
We basically get to know the characters through their surroundings. Ordinary people living ordinary lives in a supposedly extraordinary time, but it doesn't feel extraordinary at all. The only overlap in my experience with the Eastern European system is the gloom that spreads its grey blanket over everything. There's not much joy in this book. I'm not sure what story I was supposed to read, but to me this was just a sum of life in general. 

Thank you Netgalley and Neem Tree Press for the ARC.
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