Cover Image: The Pages

The Pages

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Member Reviews

This book starts with a very unique premise - narrated by a book Rebellion by Joseph Roth. The book tells its own story of being rescued from a Nazi book burning in 1933, and it’s other travels as it makes its way to the current owner, Lena. Lena and the book travel together to follow a treasure map hand drawn in the back of the book. 
There were many other characters and subplots, too many in my opinion. It was disjointed and skipped around so much I had trouble following. A great deal of the book was spent detailing the Roth’s life, as well as an immigrant sibling pair in the present day. The ending was also disappointing and rushed. This is a good book for someone who likes plot-driven and imaginative literary novels. It just fell a bit short for me. 
Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for the eARC to read and review.
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This was a wonderful book, so smart and beautiful.  I recommend listening to an interview with Hugo Hamilton as a companion piece, it really deepens the reading experience.
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This was a unique novel in that the narrator is a book itself. I found it fascinating at first and enjoyed watching Hamilton tell the tale through the book's perspective but I am not sure it was ultimately a compelling story. For the audacity of the concept, I would suggest it to anyone who enjoys mildly experimental fiction.
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The Pages by Hugo Hamilton
Publication date: February 1, 2022

Date read: May 30, 2022

Joseph Roth’s novel, Rebellion, was written in 1924 and was banned and burned by the Nazis in Germany. This novel, The Pages, follows a copy of Roth’s book that was stolen from a book-burning in 1933, and owned by a man who drew a map into the back page of the book. When it makes its way to Lena, in the present day, she decides to travel to Germany and see if she can find the location drawn in the back of the book. 

I don’t even know if that’s a good description of the book, but it’s the best I can do. This book jumps around a lot - from Joseph Roth and his mentally ill wife, to the men who stole the book from the burning, and into the present, where it follows artist Lena and immigrant Armin. There is very little in the way of plot - the search for the location of the map being really the only solid action - but rather just follows these characters (and a few others) throughout their day to day lives.

I liked the concept of using the book itself as a narrator, and sometimes it paid off by giving the reader a really unique third person perspective. Other times it just seemed disjointed. And others, it just played out like a normal omniscient third person narrator. 

The writing in this book is very pretty and descriptive, and not in a way that gets overdone. The problem, for me, is that the lack of plot and jumping around between characters left me not caring enough about any of the characters. I didn’t feel like I spent enough time with anyone to really care about them, and since we didn’t get anyone’s internal thoughts or feelings, it left a little cold. 

The book did start to pick up for me around the 85% mark, and I thought the ending was strong (if incredibly sad). It just, unfortunately, wasn’t enough of a payoff for me to rate this one very high. I liked what it was trying to do, and I hope that there are readers out there who will love it. It just didn’t work for me. 

Rating: 2/5 stars 

Trigger warning: suicide (mentioned), drug overdose, locking up mental health patient against their will, elder abuse, threatened violence against children, domestic abuse, execution, the Holocaust

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an advanced copy of this book.
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I really wanted to love this one. I definitely love the idea of the story, but I couldn't get drawn in. I found the sentences to be a little over-wordy and had a hard time staying focused. I will try to pick this one up again in the future, hopefully it just wasn't good timing for me. Rating 3 stars bc I have to give a star rating and a 1 or 2 isn't fair for my review.
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First off, my thanks to Knopf and NetGalley for an ebook ARC of this title.
I have been reading Joseph Roth for some time now, but "Rebellion" was not one of his books I had read yet.  So, I grabbed a copy of that early novella and read it before I read this.  The book was from his period where he was often referred to as "Red Roth", rather than as in his later days, when he ranted about the necessity of returning the Emperor and the Austro-Hungarian Empire!
"The Pages" is narrated by a copy of that book, a copy that had been saved from Nazi book burnings.  At times the author kind of drops that neat little literary trick, but returns to it off and on, to remind the reader who (or what, in this case) is telling the story.  All in all, it is much appreciated to see Roth get some attention now, nearly 100 years after "Rebellion" was published.  There is an outstanding translation of Roth's book, done by poet/translator Michael Hofmann.  I had not been aware that in his short life Roth had written 15 books!  Others have been compiled posthumously.  
"The Pages" tells an excellent story, tying Roth and his book into our current political situation (and this before rabid American rightwingers began their school book banning campaign).  He warns the reader of the current rise of Neo-fascist movements in Europe and the rest of the world.  It is also nice to have a thumbnail sketch of his wife, Friederike, and her life.  If you Google her name, you can come across some of the photos of her that are described in "The Pages".  She was quite beautiful.
At times I did feel like there were too many stories going on in the novel, but Hamilton brings them all together fittingly by the end of the book.  The description of the art exhibit at the end is well done, and Hamilton gives credit to a similar (at least for the condition of the book) art exhibit that actually did occur.
I found myself tearing through the book, not wanting to end a night's reading, and looking forward to picking it up again the next evening.  To  me, the sign of a good read!  Also, while he has published a number of books in his career, I was not familar with Hamilton.  I am now looking forward to reading his next novel, and other works already published by him - in particualr his memoir, "The Speckled People".  And, of course, it is exciting to see others introduced to the world and writing of Joseph Roth!  You can enjoy "The Pages" without knowing about Roth or having read "Rebellion" - but it does help if you know both.
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A clever, original and immersive novel about the power of literature, about memory, resilience and courage – narrated by a book. This so easily could have turned into something quirky and whimsical but in Hamilton’s expert hands it becomes a compelling read with its multiplicity of narrative threads all wonderful interwoven into a satisfying and absorbing whole. Lena Knecht is an artist of German-Irish descent, living in Manhattan, who inherits a first edition of Joseph Roth’s 1924 novel Rebellion. It is this book that is our narrator, taking us through its own odyssey from narrowly escaping the Nazi book-burning in Berlin to arriving in Lena’s custody. At the back of the book is a hand-drawn map which Lena feels compelled to investigate. It’s a complex novel but never difficult to follow. There are many references to other works of literature, especially to Fontane’s Effi Briest, and it certainly enhances the reading to recognise these references, as does some knowledge of Roth himself, but it’s not essential as the book stands perfectly well on its own merits. A wonderfully absorbing and haunting read.
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I found the description for this book quite intriguing! Very much outside the box and I am always looking for that "new twist", or "unusual premise". I found that in "The Pages". 
This is a novel with a highly unusual main character and point of view. What would a story be like if told by the book itself that contains said story? In " The Pages" we get a chance to find out. 
The book, "Rebellion", is a first edition that narrowly escaped the Nazi book-burning in 1933. The books original owner was a Jewish professor of literature in Berlin, the author of the book was a writer named Joseph Roth. When the book is banned and about to be burned with hundreds of others it ends up being rescued by a student of the professor's. From there we go on a journey of the book's life. Eventually the book ends up with the granddaughter of it's rescuer, Lena, whose father gives her the book on his deathbed, admonishing her to protect it at all costs. the book is scarred, tattered and battleworn, smells faintly of smoke and has annotations in the margins and a hand-drawn map in the back. Lena is intrigued by the map and where or ti what it could lead and as an artist herself she travels to Berlin for a show and to trace the book's history. 
This book started off great, you really got the feeling of the book's experiences, it's history, of the books many owners, each leaving their own individual impression within its pages. Very fascinating! But then about midway through something changes and the point of view gets lost, focusing more and more ont he human characters and less on the book's POV. Up until then I was loving this unique story, if it would have stayed consistent this would have been a 5star literary genius of a book. As it is, it is still interesting, but not as special or unique as it could have been if it would have finished in the same vein as it began. I will still recommend, but only 3 stars. 
Thank you to Knopf Doubleday Publisher and to Net Galley for the free ARC, I am leaving my honest review in return.
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This book employs a very interesting device. The story is told by the book “Rebellion”,  published in 1924 by Joseph Roth. This volume escaped being burned in Germany when a professor gave it to one of his students. It was passed down in the student’s family and eventually wound up with Lena, an American artist. Lena becomes obsessed with tracking down the location that is depicted in a hand drawn map in the back of the volume. 

I found the execution of this book very confusing. It skipped around, without warning, among the story of Lena in Germany, two Chechen siblings Lena meets, Roth and his wife as she sinks into mental illness and the plot of Rebellion. There are also side stories, one of which figures in the poignant ending of the book. The author subtly draws parallels between the period between the world wars and today. I liked this book, didn’t love it. 3.5 stars

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.
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This was such an interesting story and told in such a unique way. Imagine a book had the chance to narrate it’s own life story. What would it say? Who would be moved by it’s story?

A first edition copy of Rebellion by Joseph Roth survived the Nazi-led book burning of May 1933 thanks to Lena Knecht’s grandfather. As she journeys from New York to Berlin with the book, her curiosity leads her to search for a clue that may be linked to a hand-drawn map on the last page. 

The story seems to bounce back and forth from Lena’s present-day adventure to the exciting and yet heart-breaking life of the book’s author, Joseph Roth, and his wife Friederike. It really was an intriguing read, and I found the book to be well-paced and engaging. This is definitely a story for book-lovers and one that will reignite an appreciation for those who fought to preserve the written word.

Highly recommend!
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The Pages by Hugo Hamilton is narrated by the most unlikely of candidates—Rebellion by Joseph Roth, which escaped a Nazi book burning during World War II and is now in the hands of Lena in the present day US. From its place on the bookshelf to the inside of a shoulder bag, the book tells the story, but it has secrets of its own, including a hand drawn map among its pages. When Lena travels to Europe and loses the book, her life starts to change in unexpected ways.
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There’s something about a book that’s written so creatively that draws you in from the first page. This is no different, as it’s a book that is narrated by a book.

As Lena returns to Germany with a copy of Joseph Roth’s Rebellion, that was saved from book burners by her grandfather, she is curious about a map and all the people connected to this book. 

A very unique and curious take on Germany in the 1930’s.
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The book synopsis describes this as a novel in which a book, Joseph Roth’s Rebellion, narrates its own story from when it was published in 1924, through the present day. 

When the story begins, it is in the VOICE of a 1st edition copy, once in pristine condition, but now buried  in its current owner’s handbag, along with a passport, a cell phone, a half eaten pastry and other assorted items. The book had been given to Lena Knecht, by her father, from his death bed-with explicit instructions to protect the book as if it were her little brother. She has no idea of it’s history. 

Now, it is defaced with a hand drawn map, written on an empty page toward the back, and has some annotations written in the margins by its original owner, David Gluckstein, a Jewish Professor of German Literature at the Humboldt University in Berlin. The map leads to something buried for safekeeping on his wedding night-a mystery to be solved. 

The book also smells faintly of smoke, from the night it was saved from being burnt, in 1933, one of the books banned by Hitler for having a Jewish author, in NAZI Germany.

Lena, an artist herself, has decided to return to Germany from the U.S., in hopes of inspiring her Art, and finding what is buried. 

I was not familiar with the book “Rebellion” or Austrian journalist and author Joseph Roth, so I didn’t realize that this was inspired by an actual book or people. Only true book lovers would understand the lengths that people went to-to protect or destroy things that meant something to them-whether it was BOOKS, , or what was buried at the end of a map. 

WORDS are powerful. 

Only writing kept Joseph sane during the War when he lost others he cared about to mental illness or worse, and his story is meaningful, as are all of the stories from this part of history, including that of the book’s first owner.

Unfortunately though, “The Pages” lost sight of the POV of our 1st edition copy of “Rebellion” which began the narrative, and it appeared only occasionally as the tale unfolded, so it didn’t QUITE deliver the format promised. 

Still, it may offer a fresh take for readers who enjoy reading Historical Fiction from WW2. 

Available February 1, 2022

Thank You to the Knopf Publishing Group for the gifted copy provided through NetGalley. It was my pleasure to offer a candid review!
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Read outside your comfort genre. I am so glad to have read it. This is a story within a story. An astonishing read that pulled me in from the first page. A refreshingly original way of telling a story. Don't pass on this one but take a minute to check it out. You won't regret it.
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A book narrated by a book?  This is an unusual and challenging read that sometimes wanders into areas that aren't as clear as they might be.  Lena, in the near present, returns to Germany with a copy of Joseph Roth's Rebellion, which her grandfather rescued from book burners,  There's a map she's curious about but this isn't about the map, it's about all the people connected to the book.  Hamilton provides a bit of insight into Roth, a commentary on 1930s Germany, and so on,  Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC.  For fans of literary fiction looking for a different sort of read.
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This is quiet a short historical fiction, a book that tells us the story.  This is certainly a different way to tell a story but it did make it interesting. Not knowing much about Joseph Roth’s 1924 Rebellion it was interesting to read about it in this manner.

This is the story of 'The Book', the book is the main character so it is a bit different but makes for an interesting and intriguing read. I liked it but can't say I loved it, but am glad I read it. And although a book that is not overly long it was filled to the brim with information.

It is a journey, through a book and I enjoyed the uniqueness of this story..
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This Historical Fiction novel is so compelling and original. It is the story of a book rescued from the Nazi book burning in 1933 but narrated by the book itself. As the story unspools the reader travels through different timelines and, in that way, we learn about the book and its author (REBELLION by Joseph Roth) and how it ends in the hands of Lena, a young woman that lives in the US. When she discovers a hand-drawn map between the pages of a book, she is convinced that that map hides a message, and she is determined to find out more about it. With that premise in mind, she decides to bring the book back to Germany. During her journey, she meets a pair of Chechen siblings that will show her a whole new world. I found the storytelling remarkable and tremendously engaging. It is a gripping read but also thought-provoking and full of information. A must-read. 
Thank you so much to the publisher for allowing me to read the ARC
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Thank you to the author, Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group and NetGalley, for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

This book captivated me. Yes, I have a weakness for Central European history, which didn't hurt. At the same time, the unique concept of giving Joseph Roth's novel "The Rebellion" the role of narrator, and blending the past with the present, and fiction with history is masterful. At times the narrative got away from the author a bit, with maybe a few too many things going on in parallel, but overall I loved this book and would highly recommend it for anyone interested in how the past and its perceptions shapes our present.
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The premise, a book telling its history from its own point of view, had me hooked right away. And at first, I absolutely loved the fact that it was a character, telling the story in first person.  But as more characters were drawn into the story, that pov quickly disappeared, only to resurface intermittently and that was a pity.

  The story starts during the 30's in Germany, where the book "Rebellion" is saved from being burning at the stake, organized by right-wing students. It then travels from keeper to keeper, to end up in the States in the hands of Lena, who decides to return to Germany to find out about a map that has been drawn at the end of the book. This is a first thread; the second being the story of the author of "Rebellion", Joseph Roth, a third one is the story told in Rebellion.  The main problem I had was that a lot of other characters were drawn in very shortly. We get little bits and pieces of one's mother, child, friend, colleague, landlord, etc. The list goes on and on, and every tidbit doesn't contribute to the story. I think the author did this to create a flow of writing mimicking the main theme of dislocation and confusion of the main characters. Roots and identity are broken and every one of them tries to get cohesion and belonging in other ways. There are some references to Ulysses, and I find the author to be influenced by James Joyce, an author I never managed to finish. So, I wasn't surprised that I almost DNF "The pages" half way through.

  But nonetheless, I somehow still got pulled back, despite the disjointed storytelling and the horrible and flat characters, none of which pulled me in. But I got through to the end, which I found very anticlimactic. Maybe it's me and my subpar memory, but I didn't even know who the characters that are essential to the denouement were anymore; in my perception they just got swamped with all the others of which I thought they were just random little side-stories. 

  All in all, very intriguing and original to start with, but it didn't deliver what I was hoping. 

I would like to thank NetGalley, Knopf Publishing Group and the author for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.
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A unique idea…. A story told from a books perspective toss in a little book burning at the hands of some Nazis and it has a really good premise.  However, I did struggle at times from the various perspectives and felt that it jumped all over in a relatively random fashion leaving little cohesiveness to the book.  Thanks to NetGalley for the early read.
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