Die Mittagsfrau PDF Ê Paperback

Die Mittagsfrau [EPUB] ✶ Die Mittagsfrau ✻ Julia Franck – Natus-physiotherapy.co.uk Amid the chaos of civilians fleeing west in a provincial German railway station in 1945 Helene has brought her seven year old son Having survived with him through the horrors and deprivations of the w Amid the chaos of civilians fleeing west in a provincial German railway station in Helene has brought her seven year old son Having survived with him through the horrors and deprivations of the war years she abandons him on the station platform and never returns This is a tale of hope loneliness and love and of a life lived in terrible times It is a great family novel a powerful portrayal of an era and the story of a fascinating womanShortlisted for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize .

10 thoughts on “Die Mittagsfrau

  1. K.D. Absolutely K.D. Absolutely says:

    The author German novelist Julia Franck born 1970 was 39 years old when this book The Blind Side of the Heart was first published in German language Its milieu is Germany in between the two world wars and I could not help but be amazed how intricate Franck was able to weave her story considering that she was not born yet at that time It was the same awe that I had almost a decade ago while reading Birdsong A Novel of Love and War about French trench warfare when its author Sebastian Faulks born 1953 did not even witness any of the two world wars For me the ability to beautifully write on something that one has no first hand experience is a mark of a good novelist This is the story of Helene who is a mixed race half Aryanhalf Jew and works as a nurse in Berlin during World War II She has to change his name to Alice and assume a different identity Her fiance forges her papers declaring that she is a pure Aryan descent so she can survive persecution during the HolocaustThere is nothing new about the storyline you say? Maybe for you but not for me I've read many books The Story of the Young Girl Night Fatelessness A Man Search for Meaning and I Shall Bear Witness and they are all about the Holocaust victims and their experience during the war The Blind Side of the Heart stands on the other side the Germans mixed or pure who shouted Kill the Jews It's just that being a mixed blood Helene even tells her seven year old son Peter to stop ridiculing his Jewish classmates The story is an eye opener for me because it never came to me until while reading the book that the world got transfixed with the Holocaust victims and did not bother appreciating what the good natured Germans thought felt and did while Hitler's atrocities were going on It was also a big help for me that I read The Burden of Guilt A Short History of Germany 1914 1945 by Hanna Vogt prior to this book so I exactly knew what exactly went on in this book's backdropI also appreciated the hook that Franck used at the start The first chapter tells about Alice the mother abandoning his child 11 year old Peter in a railway station The chapter closes with Peter washing himself after peeing while waiting for his mother overnight and not leaving his seat hoping that her mother would come back Then all the chapters except the last one are flashback of the mother's life who is called Helene So while reading I was waiting and hoping to encounter the names Peter and Alice It was towards the end when Helene became Alice and so I said So this is the mother and then on the very last chapter Peter already a young man reappeared I mean the hook trick worked for me because I waited and waited and because of Franck's skillful storytelling there was no boring moment There are some philosophical musings courtesy of Helene's doctor scholar fiance Carl and husband wife power struggle courtesy of Helene's husband Wilhelm but they are tackled by showing and not by telling In other words you have to deduce the themes by yourself and Franck's is not preachy in expressing her views on these themes In fact you would not feel that the book is about racism except for the small incidents scattered in the main storyline like a Jewish boy mauled by soldiers for stealing food and Helene is a spectator instead of the main actor Very clever and fresh approach It does not leave you breathless sad and with a heavy heart like the usual Holocaust victim stories Rather it is just a pure enjoyable engaging yet intelligent read

  2. Jill Jill says:

    In the original German version so I’ve been told the title of this book is Die Mittagsfrau or “The Noonday Witch” According to legend the witch appears in the heat of day to spirit away children from their distracted parents Those who are able to engage the witch in a short conversation find that her witch like powers evaporateIn Julia Franck’s brilliant English version translated by the very talented Anthea Bell Helene gradually retreats into silence and passivity losing her ability to communicate effectively We meet her in the book’s prologue as the mother of an eight year old boy leading her son towards a packed train in the direction of Berlin Before the train arrives she tells him a white lie abandoning him at a bench never to return In the succeeding 400 pages the reader gains a glimpse as to what drove Helene to this most unnatural actHelene is born into a family that defines the word “dysfunction” Her charismatic morphine addicted older sister Martha engages her in an incestuous relationship Her mentally unbalanced “foreign” ie Jewish mother is unable to connect with her two daughters totally distancing from them when their father goes off to fight the Great War and becomes grievously injured When the two sisters gain the chance to flee to Berlin they grab it and train as nurses exposing them to the pain of their patients and also giving them ready access to drugsMartha fits right into the debauchery and frantic partying of a decaying Berlin with her enlightened free thinking friend and physician lover Leontine but Helene is far circumspect and sensitive Her one enduring love is a philosophy student named Carl who also feels deeply and tells her “The God principle is built on pain Only if pain were obliterated from the world could we speak of the death of God” When he is gone from the scene she is unable to protect herself from victimization occurring time and time again with sexual predators and the cruel man she eventually marriesAs readers we watch helplessly as Helene becomes increasingly detached her heart becoming cold and numb So it is no surprise when she concludes of her son “she had nothing for him her words were all used up long ago she had neither bread nor an hour’s time for him there was nothing of her left for the child” As the book progresses the reader is forced to adapt an omnipotent stance; we know the conseuence of some of the characters’ decisions and the genocide that will soon follow but we are powerless to guide the characters through Julia Franck instructs through omission as much as she does the details When Helene calls Berlin to speak to Martha and gets no answer we as readers are reasonably sure what has occurred But it is never confirmed As a result as Helene goes numb we begin to understand And we begin to gain some compassion for an act that virtually all mothers would consider unforgiveableThere is a menacing ever shifting uality that pervades the book become and pronounced as Hitler rises in power There is no black and white morality or easy outcomes; there are simply all kinds of loss – loss of one’s sanity loss of innocence loss of love loss of the natural order of things loss of hope The the characters lose the they must abandon In many ways we know they are already as good as gone

  3. Amy Amy says:

    Translated from the German by Anthea BellWinner of the German Book PrizeMost novels that explore the events of the Holocaust focus on the ‘Before’ and ‘After’ showing the events chronologically and the resulting impact However The Blindness of the Heart takes a reverse approach and begins by revealing a disturbing ‘After’ a young woman abandons her young son at a train station and disappears We see how they’ve lived in horror for months but his abandonment is still shocking Then the author Julia Franck takes us back in time to the early years of this young woman and the events that lead up to a lost little boy confused hungry and aloneThe mother is Helene and her family is dysfunctional and damaged long before the Holocaust begins Her identity as a person is in uestion before her identity as a Jew becomes relevant As a nurse she helps care for her ailing father while trying to deal with her mentally ill mother She thinks she finds a future but nearly everything she is close to is taken away She finds a way out of the impending doom by marrying a German who helps her with false papers that identify her as Anna a German citizen but their marriage yields nothing but the child She raises him alone while working long hours in the hospital assisting German doctors in the maternity ward as well as in the forced sterilization of some female patients Her son Peter is often left alone while she works and while they remain together it’s clear she’s drifted away long before she leaves him literallyThe book is incredibly painful A few times I put it down just to get away from the grief The author makes a tremendous gamble by having her lead character do something that appears unforgiveable right off the bat She is counting on the reader to ponder the back story and conditions of the woman’s life and see if her decision made sense She shows how emotionally abandoned Helene had been and the ugliness that fills her life The problem is despite Helene’s previous suffering it’s very difficult to get over the impact of the first few pages of the book The result is a tension that carries through the book and makes the narrative so compelling One factor I found fascinating was the details of the nurses and their struggles in Germany The endless shifts multiple duties and repellent activities in their wards were well detailed and a part of Nazi history that I wasn’t aware of The fact that Helene works with new mothers is a link emotionally with her own insane mother and her own flawed nurturing What motherhood means is an underlying theme and the title makes you consider what kind of love is blindAdditionally Franck creates an unforgettably tense scene in which the hungry mother and son go mushroom hunting and find themselves in flight to escape hunters that are not after animal prey As she runs frantically she appears to be hallucinating as she considers her escape route Peter’s whereabouts and the various ingredients for different recipes to cook all spinning through her head at once Her actions in the forest foreshadow what is to comeIn a few places I found HeleneAnna’s character to be incredibly cold I understand that under her circumstances self preservation reuired her to withdraw emotionally And very few aspects of her life were really under her control Yet there was an element of simple kindness she seemed to lack or perhaps it was all used up In any case the glimpse we get of Peter's future shows how the cycle of pain is completed

  4. Sophiene Sophiene says:

    Everyone seems to love this book It's being compared with Anna Karenina and Madame Bovary but I don't see it The story was gripping but I didn't like any of the characters not even the little boy I couldn't care less about this woman and I was angry that she repeated her own mother's faults I did finish it because it was for my bookclub but if it wasn't for that I wouldn't have finished it I really don't mind drama in a book terrible things happen but I at least want to sympathize with one character and there was just nothing to hold on to I understand that that is the attraction for a lot of people but not for me A very depressing book

  5. Friederike Knabe Friederike Knabe says:

    Julia Franck's novel DIE MITTAGSFRAU published in English under the title Blindness of the Heart A Novel starts dramatically with a Prologue in which a young mother leaves her seven year old son at a remote railway station in eastern Germany and disappears The time is 1945 the war has ended and the two have to flee west ahead of Soviet troops taking over the city The author captivated by her own father's childhood trauma took the search for possible explanations for her grandmother's behaviour as a starting point for her book The resulting novel has turned into a fictional wide ranging psychological portrait of a complex and emotionally shattered young woman who lived through two world wars and for her not less dramatic the time in between Franck's novel is a thought provoking and at times unsettling and disturbing story of one person's deep love and loss loneliness and rejection responsibility and neglect and the desperate sometimes incomprehensible will to survive In a way the novel effectively provides the back story to the young mother and aims to clarify if not justify why a young mother abandons her beloved child after all they have been through together While primarily focusing on the portrayal of the young mother Helene and her difficult relationships to her family and close surroundings the author nevertheless reaches beyond the private and individual sphere into the depiction of sections of a society in chaos and upheaval This applies especially to the Berlin's Golden Twenties Franck goes into some length in bringing to life the exuberant careless and with hindsight totally naive behaviour of the bourgeois middle class Any political events or references to changing economic conditions that give the reader a sense of passing time are only hinted at obliuely In her description of individuals and scenarios the author doesn't shy away from a certain amount of stereotyping For her Helene remains the silent observer as she feels increasingly alienated and retreats and into herself Until she meets her great love Carl but even in this relationship one can detect certain clichés While their happiness takes on the shape of a fairytale the reader knows full well given the events recounted upfront in the Prologue that some drama will destroy whatever hope Helene had for a happier life Reading BLINDNESS OF THE HEART as a psychological portrait of one young woman half Jewish intelligent and beautiful whose circumstances may not have been uniue but were by no means common I could relate to and empathize with Franck's central character most of the time As an illustration of the total disintegration of sectors of German society in the twenties and thirties in particular I found the novel lacking in depth and specifics For a German reader many place names such as Bautzen Stettin Pirna where Selma is taken for treatment etc have strong historical connotations Bautzen where Helene grew up is synonymous with brutal imprisonment whether during the Nazi regime or later until the Fall of the Berlin Wall Stettin Szczecin where Helene lived until her flight to the West was during the Third Reich a centre for forced labour and prison transports into nearby concentration camps Pirna is known for its Sanatorium where thousands of inmates were murdered during the early 1940s However Franck gives no indication as to the realities surrounding Helene nor that her heroine was to any degree aware of such realities DIE MITTAGSFRAU is Julia Franck's fourth novel and winner of the German Book Prize 2007 Frank's language is somewhat unusual not only has it a touch of the old fashioned stories from the Eastern regions of Germany it is at times and in contrast with the event described poetic in its choice of words and expressions The complete absence of any punctuation in direct speech is unusual yet eventually it makes the text flow and creates immediacy beyond speech It may be helpful to add is a comment on the German title Literally translated the word means midday woman or midday wife which however would not have any meaning However the word describes a fable character out of the west Slavic tradition where it refers to an evil spirit like a midday witch She appears during the noon hour on the hot harvesting days and affects those out in the field They can go crazy or even die when approached by her The only remedy to protect oneself or heal is by talking to her spirit about the harvest throughout the hour of noon to one The uestion remains in the reader whether Helene the central character was touched by the witch and if so whether she found a way to protect herself

  6. Scott Scott says:

    I read through some of the reviews for this book I'm always amazed at what some readers think Books clearly touch us in different ways This book has been described as disturbing haunting and shocking It is all of those and What moved me about this book was the evolution of the character Helene as she changed in response to tragic events how she moves from a bright energetic ambitious girl to a cold distant lonely cruel burdened mother The contrast between the girl's outlook and the woman she becomes as a conseuence of experiences really outside her control is brilliantly provocative Her loss of innocence is so subtle creeping up on you slowly so that you find yourself sympathetic to the cold cruel even soulless mother she becomes You think if only her son knew what we knew about his mother justifying the unforgivable cruelty But we mustn't lose ourselves to it perhaps like Germany did to horrors of Nazism it remains unforgivable as Peter exhibits If this isn't enough all the story unfolds during the colorful Weimar years and the ominous rise of National Socialism sandwiched between WWI and the Soviet occupation following WWII It's hard not to see Helene's life as a metaphor for Germany and her people the ambition and vitality of the Weimer years the felt pragmatic inevitability and naivete of Nazism the complacent determinative acceptance of the war and the costs it brings and the final loss of one's soul as one becomes an empty defeated shell both literally and figuratively raped by one's conuerors

  7. Roger Brunyate Roger Brunyate says:

    Why One WritesYou often see reviewers praising a book with the words this is why one reads Here is a book that turns upon a different uestion why the author writes This is my second attempt at a review of it and I think my reasons for making the change are important I would not want other readers to be led astray by 's marketing as I was when I first read it and expect a novel about moral degeneration in Germany during the interwar years only to criticize the author for not succeeding Alerted by another reader I have since read a German language interview in which the author reveals that her interest was not societal at all; instead she was telling the story of a single character inspired by a connection that was intensely personal So now I am trying again Why an author writes makes all the differenceThe book opens with a surely unforgivable act a mother leaves her young son at a railroad station promising to come back for him but never does The year is 1945 The place is Stettin now in Poland but then on the eastern border of a defeated Germany overrun by the Russians The child witnesses his mother's forced surrender to the sex starved victors but Franck's truly unforgettable image is of one of those soldiers naked except for his helmet hidden behind the door legs drawn up head in his hands sitting on the floor sobbing The detail is striking precisely because it seems to contradict the brutality of the rest; the tragedy of war is not merely for the vanuishedIf the whole novel were as good as its prologue it would be tremendous There is a real moral uestion here what can have happened for such a breakdown of values to occur? Looking back now over my original review since transported here I see that I perhaps gave details than some readers would like; hence the spoiler warningview spoilerI had looked for the answer on a national scale To uote the Publishers Weekly description Franck wrestles with a much broader uestion why did so many Germans appear blind to the horrors on their horizon? But the author's connection is much immediate the abandoned boy was her own father Franck's book is an attempt to provide the answers that he himself was unable to give even on his deathbed Having struggled as a writer myself to make sense of my own father's traumas my heart goes out to herWe watch Helene Würsich the remarkably sympathetic protagonist growing from a small girl at the end of one war to a mother in her thirties at the end of another Franck paints her as an unusual case the highly intelligent child of a troubled family Her father returns home after spending years in a WW1 field hospital only to die horribly in his own bed Her mother a non practicing Jew refuses to speak to him and sinks deeper into the madness that had struck with his departure So Helene is brought up mostly by her elder sister Martha whom she adores even though she is repeatedly abused in a kind of incest Precociously Helene follows her sister into the nursing profession a field of which the author writes brilliantly Then while still in her teens she accompanies Martha to Berlin moving in with a wealthy aunt whose life seems to be an incessant round of partiesHere I feel the author rather loses her way calling upon stereotypes rather than mining her own imagination Yes 1920s Berlin was known for its permissiveness but I cannot help feeling that the author places Martha in the middle of the world of lesbianism promiscuity and drugs merely to illustrate the notorious aspects of the Zeitgeist Helene stays largely clear but when she gets attached to a philosophy student the son of wealthy Jewish parents I feel convinced by the ferment of contemporary intellectual ideas than by any gut sense of his reality as a lover But Helene is stunned when he dies and it is in this numbness that the culminating events of the novel take placeWe are now three uarters through the book and Franck has still not got much closer to solving the mystery of her grandmother's transformation She is now writing against a background of well known history and is content to leave it in the background Offstage the laws against Jewish citizens begin to take effect We have to intuit Helene's growing alarm but she herself mentions nothing until she receives a proposal of marriage Suddenly the action accelerates like a fairground ghost train careening around in the darkness its rider blind to her surroundings and therefore deprived of meaningful choices Almost without knowing it Helene finds herself in a new life in a new city in an intolerable personal situation which though certainly fueled by the political climate seems to have come out of nowhere The story is all too plausible but the speed of the transformation almost broke the connection to what had gone before—or even to the presumably callous mother that Helene would become Fortunately her penultimate chapter finally does make that connection revealing her desperation that gave rise to the events of the prologue but also showing the motives for them in a understandable light hide spoiler

  8. Donna Donna says:

    well i have finished it thats the most positive i can be about it i am afraid I found it slow and uite a cold read There is such a sense of loss and detachment that runs through the whole book All the characters portray a want need that they cant nor wont allow others to fill i just felt that although the timing of the story made it worse the characters just needed a huge kick to get them going and nothing ever did all in all i am glad its over

  9. Simona Simona says:

    Very good book but it's so depressing that I don't think I could ever recommend it to someone

  10. Kim Kim says:

    I found this was a really slow book; after the 'prologue' which was actually a scene from the end of the story it then took time to really get going It largely tells the story of sisters Martha and Helene especially the latter younger sister as they are brought up in Germany during the period of the two World Wars They virtually have to care for themselves after their father goes off to fight in WW1 and comes back seriously injured; their mother meanwhile goes gradually insane Eventually leaving to start new lives in Berlin in the inter war period both sisters end up as nurses; but personal tragedy stalks both of them particularly Helene the second half of the book is largely her story What annoyed me about the book was firstly the 20 odd lines of blurb in the front cover this should have the bold warning 'SPOILER' at the beginning as it tells virtually the entire story of the book and secondly the large amount of philosophical discussion between various of the characters in the first half of the book which I found particularly tedious The book was rescued a bit by the second half but to be honest I was glad to finish it 710

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