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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Quiet but Powerful
Originally published in German (Die Wand) in 1968, The Wall is experiencing a renaissance of interest in recent times with a new reissue from Quartet Books and a film adaptation released in the UK in July 2013.

One morning an unassuming, middle-aged woman wakes up in the Austrian Alps to find out that she is the last person alive on earth. She was visiting a...
Published 20 months ago by Lovely Treez

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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Haunting
I read this book many years ago but it continues to haunt me. It's a very intense story of one woman trapped in a valley behind a wall of glass. There's some intimation that the rest of humanity has died, in some off-screen sci-fi scenario, but the focus is totally on the central character's life on her own. She interacts with the farmyard animals in her care, and...
Published on 11 May 2007 by Nina

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Quiet but Powerful, 6 Sept. 2013
By 
Lovely Treez (Belfast, N Ireland) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Wall (Paperback)
Originally published in German (Die Wand) in 1968, The Wall is experiencing a renaissance of interest in recent times with a new reissue from Quartet Books and a film adaptation released in the UK in July 2013.

One morning an unassuming, middle-aged woman wakes up in the Austrian Alps to find out that she is the last person alive on earth. She was visiting a cousin at a hunting lodge but now she is completely alone with an invisible wall separating her from the rest of the world where every living thing has ceased to breathe and is now frozen in time. I immediately thought of Stephen King's Under the Dome but this is no apocalyptic scene complete with pandemonium - all is quiet and "this is the way the world ends, not with a bang but a whimper".

Some years later, our anonymous narrator decides to record her experiences on scraps of paper, perhaps as an act of self-confirmation to prove she still exists. It's not an exciting life by modern standards but her descriptions of daily life on the mountain provide an interesting interpretation of what it might be like to be totally isolated with no human contact. Initially, it's not so bad - rations are plentiful, Lynx the dog is a faithful companion, the unnamed cat, although scornful of open affection, provides some companionship. A lost cow provides a much needed food source as well as another contact. With the arrival of Winter, everything changes...

Deer have to be shot if there is to be meat on the table, potatoes and other vegetables must be planted on time, logs need cutting for fuel. Our lonesome woman fends for herself very well and doesn't seem too bothered by loneliness - I wonder how comfortable any of us would be in a similar situation?

This is a slow-paced, contemplative read and I really enjoyed taking time out and sharing the narrator's experiences as she gets closer to nature and sees the beauty in the detail of her surroundings.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An unforgettable classic., 4 Sept. 2014
By 
Ann Fairweather (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Wall (Paperback)
Having recently watched the film, I felt like re-reading the book. I first read it perhaps over 10 years ago, but the second time felt as fresh and powerful as the first read. Perhaps this is due to the wonderful writing of Marlen Haushofer and to the striking quality of the story. A forty-ish year old woman is invited to a hunting lodge by friends, in the Austrian Alps, and after their arrival she chooses to stay at the chalet while they go back to the village for some errands. They leave the dog, Lynx, with her. The thing is, the couple never comes back. Worried by their unexplained absence, in the morning, she walks towards the village with the dog, when they are suddenly stopped and hurt knocking into an invisible glass wall. The wall seems to have encircled a large area in the mountains, but apart from her and the dog, no one seems to be left alive. From then on follows a minute and difficult survival, helped by a cow stranded too and later a cat. This is more a meditation on the way we live and how treat the world, than a sci-fi scenario. The glass wall can be the symbol of our situation on Earth, where we are confronted with a total silence from space and a total lack of meaning, unless we put one in our life. The unnamed woman feels a duty of care to the few animals left in her charge and find that the decision is somehow made for her to struggle and to survive if only to feed them. This is a beautiful way to act. The reader cannot help noticing the female caring and nurturing as opposed to the male destruction of the world. Perhaps it is why the book is viewed as 'feminist' though I see it more as a behaviour we could have chosen as a species rather than a gender issue. The narrator somewhere says that it is regretful that we have taken the wrong road at some distant point...The story is told by the woman writing down what happened since her solitude started, so it is extremely vivid, intense, spare and riveting. You could say 'not much happens' because it is all about surviving in the wild with little comforts other than what is in the chalet, but then, it manages to be as gripping as a thriller. Her relations to the few animals she has is incredibly well-observed and moving. It is an unforgettable book and it's with great sadness I came to the end, I think in ten years time or so, I will re-read it yet again...
PS: Note on the cover for this edition: I think the publisher mistook the book for another because this picture of a teenager is totally irrelevant and misleading. Everyone I asked thought it was a teenage misery story...Not quite! Not helping what is a great, wonderful book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Wall, 9 July 2014
By 
Keen Reader "lhendry4" (Auckland, New Zealand) - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Wall (Paperback)
“Today, the fifth of November, I shall begin my report.”

I came across a review of this book on an Amazon reviewer’s page, and it sounded very intriguing.

Told completely in the first person narrative, this book starts off, for the reader, in an unknown time, place and told by an unknown person as this person writes a journal. By page 4, we know that the narrator is widowed with adult children. On the thirtieth of April the narrator was invited by her cousin and her cousin’s husband to join them at their hunting lodge in the forest. And then the world changed. The wall of the title of the novel appears suddenly – tangible yet invisible, cutting the woman off – and what has happened to the people in the rest of the world? Is she the only survivor? In her journal, we slowly discover how long she has been surviving, and how she has been doing so. What the wall was, or is, and how it arrived there is never the focus of this book; it is a book of how an individual might respond to a situation of peril and change, and unforeseeable circumstances.

This is an astonishing book; originally published in the author’s German language in 1968, it was not translated into English until 1990. It is a book which truly deserves to be available in every language; it is a timeless, countryless story of survival, discovery, and contemplation. The woman lives in a world that is completely alien, yet totally familiar; the new life imposed on her is one of trouble and toil, yet there are moments of joy in the sadness; she finds a new perspective on her old, pre-Wall life and it is evident to the reader that there was much in her earlier life that was not ideal, whether she realised it at the time or not.

This is one of those books which fills you with joy, then makes your eyes fill with tears; sadness, hope, loss, triumph, all in the tale of one woman’s struggle for survival in a new world that she is unprepared for, but which she has to come to terms with. A tremendous read, and one which transports the reader to this woman’s circumscribed universe of sow, reap, kill, eat – above all, survive, yet all the time coming to terms with her own indisputable mortality. There are moments of terrible sadness and loss, which the reader feels badly, so deeply invested with the story do you become. I see this book has now been made into a movie; I can imagine there are aspects of the book that would have been hard to translate to a visual medium, but I can also see that there would be new ways to appreciate the story in a movie. I would like to get the chance to see it sometime.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars And if it was only you left alive, would you forget what it meant, to be a human?, 31 Jan. 2014
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This review is from: The Wall (Paperback)
Someone (I can't remember who you were, but possibly a reviewer who may have mentioned this in passing) sent me to search out and get The Wall, a 1968 book by the Austrian writer Marlen Haushofer, which has been reprinted, thanks no doubt to the 2013 German film Die Wand, which, by all accounts is as sensitive, thought provoking and disturbing as Haushofer's original book. Unknown reviewer, whoever you were, thank you.

It is difficult to know where to start with this unsettling, reflective, heart-breaking, philosophical book, which quietly unpicks just what it is, at the end, to be a human animal.

A simple premise, in many ways - and one which may be familiar to Stephen King's readers, as apparently the basic premise formed the substance of his 2009 book Under The Dome.

A cataclysmic event seals off survivors from the rest of the world, trapping them in a kind of prison. That, I understand is King's book which devotes a lot of time to the wheres and whyfores of The Dome, and of course the survivors and the relationships between them.

Haushofer's is completely different. Having almost immediately established The Wall, she (and she is the only survivor) accepts it as a given, and is not much interested in the why and how did it happen. It is quickly, and very practically, accepted for what it is. Something created by technology, by warfare between nations, by a weapon and experiment which clearly was more aggressive and destructive than its inventors ever imagined.

The unnamed narrator is a middle aged woman, a widow, going away for a few days with a cousin and her husband to their hunting lodge deep in the Austrian Alps. The couple go to the nearest village for an evening drink, but never return. In the morning, the narrator finds the mysterious transparent wall has appeared, and every living thing on the other side of the wall, which appears to extend to the limits of vision, has been petrified.

So begins the book, a journal kept, looking back from a two year vantage point, by the never named narrator. Do you need a name if you are the only survivor, and there will never be anyone to need to name you, to distinguish you from anyone else, ever again?

The journal, which she writes in certainty that it will never be read, never be found, is written because - well - isn't this what we do - we find some way to note and record and mark our being, some way of saying `I was here' some way of marking time, space, and our own needs as reflective creatures who exist in time and know a past, inhabit a present and imagine a future.

The isolated, Alpine setting also provides our narrator with the means of survival - there are forests, deer (it's a hunting lodge, remember, where people come in hunting season, with stocks to take them through) She has a dog, borrowed initially for for the weekend hunting visit, and luckily, a cow which also had strayed to this side of the wall, before `the event' Later, a half feral cat appears from the forest.

It's like another kind of Ark, except hardly two by two. Bereft of human companionship, relationships develop between the animals and the narrator. But please don't think twee, these are fierce relationships about survival, connection, the animal need for comfort which not only humans feel.

I discovered that at one point, the book had sometimes been praised and marketed as an `eco-feminist utopian book' Really???!! Sure, the book is about the preciousness of other living creatures, about the need for respect for the landscape, it's a FOR the cherishing of life and AGAINST the destruction and war which leads to/led to `the event'. And the one who survives is a female, and she has to fend for herself, learn how to survive, remember the skills she once learned as a young woman with a rural background and somehow find, with difficulty, new skills. But, apart from the fact she IS female, so yes there is a lot of thought given to the nature of animal companions which comes from their femaleness (the cow) or their maleness (the dog) it is more about being human itself, than female or male.

Most peculiarly - Utopia? Really? To know that all you loved have died, and that all you now love and care for (the animals) may or will or do die before you, and that if YOU are the one to die before them, you will leave them alone, and they may have come to need your companionship. And if they die before you, the loss is also unbearable

The structure of the book is very skilful - because the narrator is writing this looking back over her time she always knows where she will end up. So, we are told, over and over, all through the book, about pains and losses which will come, so we are always reading the immediacy and at times the sweetness of a moment, and are aware of any awfulness which awaits.

This is unlikely to appeal if you are someone who likes the drive of the book to be in one `what happens next' linear direction. To be honest `the action' in narrative terms, is little, the action is generally very practically rooted - how do you harvest and ration the matches, the dried beans, the potatoes, the shoes, the bullets for your hunting rifle that will keep you alive, before, in time, death must come from accident or want. And what, all humankind gone, might it be that keeps you here. Why bother?

All I can say is that I found this a most unusual, most thoughtful, most despairing-and-most-appreciative-of-the-little NOW sort of book. In the end, it is a book about Stoicism, and about acceptance, at a deep level. Its also, given the deep and vital surrender to the business of staying alive by being within the moment of your living, alert to that quality of yourself as a being moving within the external world, a book which has some parallels with instructions about `living mindfully'

This is quite unlike anything else. On many levels, a short (just over 200 pages) read, an easy read, but I lingered and lingered, not wanting to get to where the narrator had told me we were going, time and again, in this journey.

An extraordinary book.

"Then I would sit down on the bench and wait. The meadow slowly went to sleep, the stars came out, and later the moon rose high and bathed the meadow in its cold light. I waited for those hours all day, filled with secret impatience. They were the only hours in which I was capable of thinking quite without illusions, completely clearly. I was no longer in search of a meaning to make my life more bearable. That kind of desire struck me as being almost presumptuous. Human beings had played their own games, and in almost every case they had ended badly. And how could I complain? I was one of them and couldn't judge them, because I understood them so well. It was better not to think about human beings. The great game of the sun, moon and stars seemed to be working out, and that hadn't been invented by humans. But it wasn't completed yet, and might bear the seeds of failure within it."
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Haunting, 11 May 2007
By 
This review is from: The Wall (Paperback)
I read this book many years ago but it continues to haunt me. It's a very intense story of one woman trapped in a valley behind a wall of glass. There's some intimation that the rest of humanity has died, in some off-screen sci-fi scenario, but the focus is totally on the central character's life on her own. She interacts with the farmyard animals in her care, and these interactions, in the absence of other people, become incredibly intense (I remember especially the cow). Now and again she remembers her life before but it was fraught psychologically, and in a way, the woman is relieved now to be living a solitary life on her own with her animals, in nature.

It's a fascinating study. I read it in German and don't know the translation but the original language is very beautiful.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Completely drawn in, 8 Jun. 2014
By 
Jillian Davies (03726 Benitachell, (ALICANTE), ES) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Wall (Paperback)
I loved this read, I was there lived the moments of despair, joy, hunger and loneliness. Cannot imagine what it would be like to 'have' to kill and animal in order to survive. Not just for her but also those animals in her care. I would not have the faintest idea how to churn butter, no problem milking Bella just big problem making myself drink the milk! It was such a thought provoking book which I could not put down, didn't want it to finish but had to get to the end. No good for those who like an ending though. Many good previous reviews, very eloquent thank you. Where to next?
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece., 11 April 2012
By 
This review is from: The Wall (Paperback)
"THE WALL is a wonderful novel. " --Doris Lessing
"Subtly surreal, by turns claustrophobic and exhilarating." --Kirkus
"A masterpiece." --The Women's Review of Books.

An extraordinary book by one of the greatest writers of the last century. Why Marlen Haushofer is unknown to most of us today is a great mystery to me. This is a great great great novel.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A German Audrey Niffenegger..., 23 July 2013
This review is from: The Wall (Paperback)
I reckon that if you're a fan of Audrey Niffeneger, you'll probably like Marlen Haushofer. I read this book 20 years ago, while a student in Germany. It is absolutely brilliant and one of my favourites of all time. Unfortunately the copy I read was borrowed and I forgot the author's name. After a number of unsuccessful attempts to acquire another copy, I'm now delighted that it's widely available in the UK and will get the airing it so richly deserves. I just hope that the film does it justice.
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5.0 out of 5 stars could not go to sleep, 11 April 2014
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One of the best books I have read in a long time. If you are hungry forgetting about an outside world and reconnect with your self go for it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, I'll watch it many times, 13 April 2015
By 
Miss C. Dacre "Road Queen" (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Wall (Paperback)
Excellent, I'll watch it many times. I used to live in isolation - this film reminds me what I escaped.
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