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The Taste of Apple Seeds [Kindle Edition]

Katharina Hagena , Jamie Bulloch
3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £7.99
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Book Description

For Iris, childhood memories are of long hot summers spent playing with her cousin Rosmarie in her grandmother's garden, a place where redcurrants turned to pale tears on the branches of trees and beautiful Aunt Inga shook sparks from the tips of her fingers. But now her grandmother is dead and, along with inheriting the property, Iris finds that she also inherits her family's darkest secrets.

Reluctant to keep it, but reluctant to sell, Iris spends one more summer at the house. By day she swims at the local lake, where she rediscovers a childhood companion. Alone at night she roams through the familiar rooms, exploring the tall black shadows of the past. In the flicker between remembrance and forgetting, Iris recalls an enigmatic grandfather who went to war and came back a different man, the night her cousin Rosmarie fell through the conservatory roof and shattered her family's lives, and a moment of love that made the old tree in the orchard bloom overnight.

Product Description


This melancholy novel about lifting the layers of history is packed with gorgeous imagery and undertones of buried secrets... Sultry, tragic and intensely atmospheric. --The Times

Intriguing and carefully written... There is clearly a certain X-factor about its bitter-sweetness. --Daily Mail

First love, family secrets and the pain of loss are at the heart of this enchanting read.-- Good Housekeeping

The Taste of Apple Seeds smells of summer, of apples and of blackberries. It is sweet, but also slightly bitter; it is a sad yet comforting book of memories.-- Die Zeit

A masterpiece, seeds and all.-- Nouvel Observateur

A tale of perfect unity about three generations of very different women whose lives are intimately connected --Le Monde

About the Author

Katharina Hagena, born 1967, studied English and German Literature in Marburg, London and Freiburg, before lecturing at Trinity College Dublin and the University of Hamburg. Her first book What are the wild waves saying? Waterways Through Joyce's Ulysses, was published in 2006. The Taste of Apple Seeds is her first novel. She currently lives in Hamburg.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 368 KB
  • Print Length: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Atlantic Books (1 Jan. 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00A25NN4I
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #219,690 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A Struggle 11 Dec. 2012
By Sally Zigmond VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
What is it that makes some novels engaging and others...well...difficult to pick up again when put down? The latter kept happening as I struggled through this novel. What should have taken me three days to read took me a month. I read a lot of books. I read some for their cracking plot, some for their memorable characters and well-evoked settings. And some I read for the sheer poetic power or elegance of the writing. But whatever the reason, there has to be something that compels me to keep reading, to make feel like I'm stepping into another world and not reading sheets of paper glued together. It's a kind of unwritten contract between the writer and the reader. Give me something that will hold my interest for whatever reason and I will keep reading avidly until the very last word. It's a kind of literary alchemy: creating something wonderful out of ordinary ingredients.

I tried. I almost gave up many, many times but I persevered because I had requested a copy and because the blurb intrigued me and because it was or is a European best-seller and I wanted to know why. However, when I got to the end I wondered why I bothered.

The plot is unoriginal, the characters didn't engage me and the language was stolid and prosaic - even the more magical descriptions. The aunt who generated a kind of electricity from her fingers came over as comical rather than fantastical. And the main character's habit of dressing up in her aunts' old clothes comes over as mad rather than evocative. As I don't read German I am unable to tell whether the original text has suffered from an indifferent translation. Perhaps someone will enlighten me.

I tried. I really tried. But I failed.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well written, very evocative novel 16 Dec. 2012
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This novel was originally written in German. This is an English translation. The book was hugely popular in Germany, selling over a million copies. Indeed it has been popular throughout most of Europe and has been translated into 24 different languages. The book is undoubtedly well-written and it has been translated from German to English quite beautifully. Nothing of the quality of the writing has been lost in translation. It is charming and evokes a way of life in rural Germany which could easily be rural England or almost anywhere in the world.

The novel is set in the present day and the narrator is Iris, a young woman who travels right across Germany to attend her grandmother's funeral. When the will is read, she finds that she has inherited her grandmother's house, which has been owned by the family for generations. She had assumed until then that the house would be left to her mother, or her two aunts. Iris is undecided about what to do with the house. Although she had never lived in the house long-term, she had spent every summer there. As a child and then a teenager, she had spent a lot of time with her cousin Rosemarie and her friend Mira, both of whom were slightly older than Iris.

After the funeral Iris decides to remain in the house for a short time until she decides what to do. During this time, Iris thinks back over her life and remembers the three generations of her family who have lived in the house. In the process, family secrets are exposed. Matters which she had not understood as a child, now become clear as she considers them with an adult's eye.

The book is very atmospheric. There is an orchard attached to the house and this forms a background to the story.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars ONLY GLIMPSES OF WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN 3 Jan. 2013
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Librarian Iris Berger unexpectedly inherits grandmother Bertha's home in Bootshaven. Memories flood back of times spent there - and of the tragedy which so affected all.

Making most impact is the moving account of old Bertha's slide into senility. Young solicitor Max also impresses, he around to ensure the smooth transfer of the house deeds. Long ago Iris had branded him "The Wimp". Now she is increasingly aware of his humour and charm....

If only everything else had so appealed! The very title suggests so much more, especially with early hints of matters mystical - the garden capable of magical happenings whenever intense passions are aroused.

Sadly, though, little here really springs to life. Most characters (including Iris) remain firmly on the page. Throughout what should be surprising revelations, even shocks, fall flat as the narrative meanderingly plods on. Hints en route are dropped about the great tragedy, presumably to whet the appetite. Account of the calamity itself provides the novel's climax. Even that seems contrived and barely registers, it so hard to care for any of the people involved.

Acclaim abroad. 24 languages. Awesome sales. Hopes were so high, this disappointment thus all the more deeply felt. What could have been an evocative, engrossing read instead for the most part fails to inspire interest.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Trying way too hard to be literary/artsy 5 Sept. 2013
(NOTE: I read this in the original German. I have no idea how Jamie Bulloch's translation is.)

This book wears its heart on its sleeve: It wants to be a literary novel of gentle magical realism dwelling with misty nostalgia on life's regrets and the tangles of love and family duty. It manages to top out as a slight novel of puzzling perhaps-magical realism clubbing you over the head with misty nostalgia over a series of very unpleasant events happening to a circle of dull, unpleasant people.

I don't get the *point* of this novel. It bobs from piece of pat symbolism to piece of pat symbolism--a window fogged by spider webs, two characters in conflict identified with the colors black and white, a bookshelf that seems to rearrange itself when no one's looking, lightning and static electricity, mysteriously-blooming and -ripening apple trees--without ever tying those symbols together into a meaning as a whole, and without ever introducing a plot. Sure, there's the thinnest of romances surrounding the descriptions of plants, clothes, and surreal memory-fictions that the narrator dwells on--but it's the least-convincing of love stories, about a bored young man falling in love with a woman he only seems to see when she's doing spectacularly stupid things (like trying to ride a bike while wearing a long golden formal dress and carrying several bags and a can of paint). It reads like "The Early Days of a Horribly Dull Marriage."

Meanwhile, the flashbacks only succeeded in making me think that *all* of the characters, not just the narrator, were self-obsessed, inward-turning to the point of neurosis, overly dramatic, and poisonous to be around. Of course a family like this would produce septic regrets and the inability to do anything except dwell on oneself!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars This worked for me
Halfway through this book, I stopped to check other reviews and found a certain amount of disappointment with the pace. Hmm. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Mig Bardsley
2.0 out of 5 stars Not a very good read
I found this rather a boring book. I kept waiting for the story to start but it never seemed to get going. Read more
Published 10 months ago by moonmin
5.0 out of 5 stars A good read
This book was bought for another person and I have not read it. All I can drag out of them was that it was very good.
Published 19 months ago by Ronald Tushingham
1.0 out of 5 stars not easy to read
I found this book quite hard to follow. It could be the translation (Greek version) or the fact that there were far too many names that confused me from the very beginning. Read more
Published 19 months ago by nassia pavlou
4.0 out of 5 stars Family secrets - magical elements underwhelming
This is a novel about how Iris explores her family history and relationships after the bereavement of her grandmother. Read more
Published 22 months ago by Mrs. Fiona Wilton
5.0 out of 5 stars A spellbinding book
Iris's grandmother, Bertha, has died after many years of dementia in a care home and her daughters and granddaughter gather at the family grave in their home village. Read more
Published 23 months ago by Mrs. K. A. P. Wright
3.0 out of 5 stars Slow, thoughtful, not so engaging
Originally written in German, this novel has been a huge success all over Europe.

Personally, I think 250 pages is enough, any more and I doubt that I would have been... Read more
Published 23 months ago by Lincs Reader
4.0 out of 5 stars Bittersweet reflections
I approached this book a little apprehensively having read a few lukewarm reviews which described it as dull and plodding. Read more
Published 23 months ago by Denise4891
1.0 out of 5 stars Could not swallow this
Before starting this review I have to state that unless a novel really manages to engage me, I will always endeavour to finish it, especially if it is one I am reviewing. Read more
Published 23 months ago by Brida
3.0 out of 5 stars Left sour taste!
It was just a ok book read bit airy fairy. Read for book club otherwsie would have abandoned it! Predictable
Published 23 months ago by Mrs. M. Muir
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