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Inseparable Kindle Edition
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This story could have been successful with a great deal more warmth and fewer characters to keep track of. It was an OK read, but I doubt I'll remember more than the title just a few weeks from now.
But this book somehow left me a little confused. There were just too many people in this book, it was hard to keep up with all the characters.
The beginning starts out interesting enough. Christine Schmidt, a successful magazine writer, is turning 44 at the end of the year and her coworkers Gabi, Luise and Dorothea along with her editor Ruth and sister Ines want to throw her a lavish surprise party. They want to invite people from Christine's life that she's been friends with over the years. This requires detective work and digging into the past. This is a nice concept but we quickly learn that one person, Linda Love, is hard to track down and another, Frauke, an old childhood friendship that faded when the girls married, moved elsewhere and had children. This part is quite expected, but what gets confusing are all the additional characters introduced throughout the book, ie family members and coworkers of these friends that are background fudder and don't develop further. This can be distracting.
Germans would call this story a "Weibergeschichte," a more crude way of describing "chick lit." There are affairs, jealousies, catfights, remorse, regret and fears all associated with getting older. Chapters are interspersed with articles Christine has written about relationships and other female issues in the magazine Femme. The perspective is in the third person limited form, but it does jump around, and I was only able to make sense of all the characters by writing them down in the back of the book for reference.
There is a nice twist toward the end. The reader is led to believe something will happen between Christine and her married lover Richard. Yet all throughout the pages the reader also understands that this meandering story is about women friendships, from anger and distrust to jealousy and regret and sharing and not sharing secrets. It's about the bond women develop over the years. The attempt to this story is fine, but somehow it left me rather numb, a rather void "So what?" that overcame me as I read the final pages.
Translated from the 2006 book "Unzertrennlich," the English version is fine; only minor flaws I could see. But for someone not familiar with German culture some of the background locations may seem foreign, although they all don't need to be understood to understand this book about rejuvenated friendships. What is more of a flaw is the lack of character development, the rambling settings and the complicated add-ons of friends of friends, neighbors and coworkers of old friends. Unfortunately, this kind of writing is common in contemporary German literature as German literature is known for its psychodrama. For the reader familiar with German literature and culture, this book may be pleasing, but for a standard literature fan, this story may disappoint. I really wouldn't include this work as an example of world literature worth reading.
As they say in German, "Schade."
But in a conversation with one of these friends, Dorothea, she seems a bit jaded about friendships lasting.
From this discussion, Dorothea has an idea and enlists the help of Christine's sister and a few other friends to put together a surprise birthday party for Christine that will include friendships of Christine's from the distant past.
The quest is lengthy and described in detail; there are questionnaires to include with letters to the individuals.
From this point on, we are shown glimpses of some of the friends in their current lives, with occasional peeks into Christine's life, and her tedious relationship with Richard.
I liked the premise of the story, but as it continued, I thought it soon lost its luster. Or maybe something was lost in translation. At any rate, the story plodded along and I no longer connected with any of the characters. In fact, sometimes I got confused, as many of them had similar names. I felt like a passenger adrift in the sea, and just wanted to get to shore. The most I can give Inseparable is three stars.