on 11 September 1998
This book wasn't the best Remarque book that I've read. In short it is about a race car driver, Clerfayt, who falls in love with a terminal ill patient, named Lillian. She finds a new lease on life after leaving the sanatorium with Clerfayt. Clerfayt leads a risky life on the edge, where as Lillian has lead a quiet, "safe" life in an attempt to be cured. Realizing her time is growing short, she feels she is ready for a big change.
Their roles reverse as the course of the book plays out, each gaining insight to the fallacies of the other person's lifestyle. Remarque throws a lot of wit and wisdom in the conversations and thoughts, which to me didn't seem normal. However, Remarque's characters, in all of his books, tend to be deep and thoughtful.
Overall, though, it was enjoyable departure from his typical WW2 books. Worth reading, but he has other better ones.
This is a classic Remarque: post-war Europe, lost generation, people almost coerced to fall in love, loneliness and a lot of alcohol, and of course a terminal illness. This is not the strongest Remarque’s work, but it is moving nonetheless. In Russian language it is translated as "Borrowed Life", and I am almost not sure if this more or less literal translation of original title, or the Russian one, is better. It is about borrowed life, and it most certainly proves the fact that Heaven (here in the meaning of God/destiny) has no favourites – you can grasp to life all you want, make plans, but death has its own plans… Nostalgic, melancholic, with a slight ting of desperation – still quite beautiful.
I love these new editions of Remarque’s novels. And this one is not that long (almost a novella) and could be read in one evening. Food for thought, definitely.