10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Wonderful, but probably not quite finished by the author,
This review is from: The Post Office Girl (Paperback)
Stefan Zweig is a fantastic writer. He brings another world to life so vividly that the reader is completely caught up in the story. This book is about the horror of poverty, particularly horrific when you have experienced what it is like not to have to scrimp and save, not to worry about every penny and when you have lived the life - even for a few days - of someone rich, glamorous and respected.
The main character, Christine has grown up during the war and her family has suffered. She is invited by her aunt and American uncle to holiday with them in Switzerland. This is the 'pretty woman' part of the story where a provincial post office girl is transformed into a society lady. She wears her new character like she wears the new clothes and make up she is given. She's submerged in a whirlwind of parties, suitors and has all the attention she could ever wish for. Just as suddenly as this is bestowed, it is all whipped away.
There follows a life of drudgery as Christine becomes more and more bitter about her lot. She meets a like-minded man who is also bitter about the life he's forced to lead.
I don't want to give too much away about the plot but between them they come up with 2 solutions for how to get out of the wretched lives they are leading.
The story is gripping and it's nearly impossible to put the book down at any point ... I was dying to know what would become of Christine ... I was cheering her on all the way, hoping that some good luck would befall her, willing a knight in shining armour to ride up and rescue her.
The beginning of the story is, in my opinion, perfect. The world Christine inhabits in the high class hotel, her immersion in the society of the rich and frivolous is wonderfully told - it's as though you can hear the rustle of the fine sheets, the clink of glasses, the music and chatter; you can feel the softness of the material of Christine's new dresses, see the sweep of the stair case and imagine this young girl caught up in this life that she never even dreamed could exist. When it is all cruelly taken from her, you feel the loss and take it personally.
In my opinion, it loses its way a bit when Christine returns home and meets Ferdinand. This book was found after Zweig died - it wasn't a work that he considered ready for publication and I feel that he would have thought there was work still to do on it. Parts of the plot seem like they have just been sketched out, not completed. Other parts could have done with a little revision. That's not to take away from this book which is fantastic and will remain in my memory for a long time. It just seems obvious that this isn't really the finished product Zweig would have insisted on if he had agreed to its publication.
However, a great read and I highly recommend it.