“Wow“… that was all I could utter after finishing this short book.
“A Whole Life” by Robert Seethaler caught my attention for two somewhat trivial reasons. First, because it received praises from the moment it appeared in our bookstores (though, honestly, I never paid much attention to media reviews/critiques). Second, because the book is only about 130 pages long with large print… perfect for travel and relaxation. 🙂
Andreas Egger, orphan (in the early 20th century), arrived in a small Alpine village, where he was adopted by a peasant family and where he spent more or less his entire life.
From his boyhood (during which he injured his leg, leaving him limping for life), through his young adult years, to his old age, life never pampered Andreas.
Although aware of his limitations (especially intellectual ones) and the injustice of a harsh world, Andreas managed to grow into a level-headed man of action (and with only a few needed words).
Regardless of the circumstances, Andreas always strove to perform his work diligently and conscientiously. Whether it was farm work, clearing forests, or participating in the construction of a cable car, he always tried to find something positive in it all, even if it was just doing jobs in the fresh air, rather than being trapped in an office.
Andreas also had the chance to experience love. Though he never quite understood what love was, the moments spent with Marie (who later became his fiancée) filled him with peace. And when he experienced tragedy, it seemed he swore to himself that love could only be first and unique.
Andreas was also swept up in the war. He spent many years in captivity, never questioning why he was where he was.
Andreas witnessed the technological changes that transformed his little village where he grew up and spent (almost) his entire life. Motorized vehicles, electricity, cable cars, and tourists, as much as they delighted him, also made him realize that he could no longer keep pace with the world and that he had to survive as best as he could.
And then there was old age… a separate story about Andreas and his realization of life’s transience.
How can you not love this hero who has endured so much, which he definitely did not deserve! Although I’m not a fan of dramas, I believe this novel definitely deserves to be adapted into a movie or television show.
Reading this brilliant novel, you can’t help but experience a strange feeling. Your heart is constantly warmed, whether you’re living through the few happy or the many sad moments with Andreas Egger.
The writing style in “A Whole Life” is fluid and tender, with many beautiful descriptions, especially of the mountain landscapes surrounding our hero’s village.
I’m not sure if this is the perfect beach book, but it will definitely leave you pensive. I know it did for me.
And when, dear readers, was the last time that the life of a literary character has left you so touched and thoughtful?