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The Mussel Feast (Peirene's Turning Point Series) Kindle Edition
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Top customer reviews
One evening, a mother and her two teenage children are awaiting the anticipated return from work of the patriach of the family. Everything has been prepared and set out as usual on the dinner table, but tonight they are having mussels. Tonight is to be a celebration. A surefire promotion is expected and they are waiting for him to announce the wonderful "news." Uncharacteristically, of father there is no sign. Why is he late? Why no phone call explaining his delay?
As the mussels are cooked and allowed to go cold and a bottle of Spatllese is opened and consumed by all three, the atmosphere subtly changes. Told from the daughter's perspective, the lives of these seemingly ordinary people are pulled apart and, glimpse by glimpse, the reader begins to realise that things are not what they seem.
As expected from the wonderful Peirene, a justifiably respected publisher who go from strength to strength in their choice of impeccably translated European fiction, this is another jewel in their crown. This modern German classic by multi award winning Birgit Vanderbeke displays subtle storytelling, which suddenly delivers a virtual punch to the face to the unsuspecting reader, "The Mussel Feast" is a must read and highly recommended.
The hellish vision revealed by the daughter is often difficult to read, although the book is lightened by moments of wry humour. In her portrait of a family Vanderbeke has given us a microcosm of a repressive state and it is no coincidence that the novel was written shortly before the fall of the Berlin Wall.
"The Mussel Feast" is a short book which can be read in a few hours; it leaves a powerful and long-lasting impression, however, and I finished admiring Vanderbeke's skill and wanting to read more of her work.
The author wrote this just before the fall of The Berlin Wall in 1989: "I wanted to understand how revolutions start. It seemed logical to use the figure of a tyrannical father and turn the story into a German family saga."
And the analogies between the two situations are there throughout: the constant fear that he can hear their rebellious thoughts; the way that they are encouraged to inform on one another, to garner his praise, causing them to distrust each other, and not join forces against him...
A short (105p) but powerful work which I read in one sitting
Deftly translated by Jamie Bulloch and attractively presented by Peirene Press 'The Mussel Feast' is, as commented at the beginning of this review, an unusual and very unsettling read, and the further one reads, the more unsettled one feels.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
A fantastic novella - rather like a painting where the writer first does some background strokes and then gradually fills in the picture, to tell the reader about a family and its... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Mrs. G. Cox
Read as part of a university module. Although at first it seems to be a simple narrative, taking part all in one night, once I realised the undercurrents of it, I was amazed. Read morePublished 8 months ago by lucybridgetmaria
Disappointing read, no paragraphs or chapters. Icebox ending. Not to be recommendedPublished 17 months ago by S. GREEN
Ostensibly a monologue by the unloved, unappreciated, and stubborn daughter of a tyrannical father and his long-suffering wife, as they await his return from an important... Read morePublished 23 months ago by KaleHawkwood
One of my books of the year. So refreshing to read something which has been well edited. I now check Pierene Press for other books.Published on 21 Mar. 2015 by Jenny Cant
This is a compelling read; the author visualises the chains falling away from the Father/Husbands tyranny over his wife, son and daughter. Read morePublished on 5 Feb. 2015 by Richard Latham
A mother and her two children, a son and a daughter, are waiting for the father to come home. The mother has prepared an enormous bowl of mussels. Read morePublished on 18 Aug. 2014 by Jennifer Cameron-Smith