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Although I do not usually read collections of short stories, I have read two of the author's novels, Homecoming and The Reader, and I did not want to miss any new fiction from Bernhard Schlink. Each of the selections in Summer Lies is really a novella, rather than a "short" story. A couple of the early selections seem somewhat incomplete or unresolved, as if they were meant to be only portraits of a particular character and his shallow relationship with his wife or lover. The later selections are much more satisfying, exploring relationships that are much more complex and moving. I particularly like the last three selections, all which deal with much older characters, both men and women, who are confronting end-of-life emotions, while trying to define who they are, how they have lived, the life-altering decisions they made, and their relationships with parents, spouses, children, and grandchildren. The last two selections are particularly intense: a man trying to reconcile with his 82-year old father, with whom he shares only one passion, the love of the music of Bach; and the story of a woman living in an assisted-living facility who has fallen out of love with her children and grandchildren, but leaves on a trip, accompanied by a grown granddaughter, to revisit the town in which she attended university, more than fifty years earlier. This relatively short audiobook (about 8 hours long)is well worth the reading just for the very best of these selections. The rest is intro and bonus!
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