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Therefore Choose [Paperback]

Keith Oatley
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

April 23 2010

On a summer visit to Germany, George, a young medical student at Cambridge, meets Anna von Kleist, whose intellectual force, beauty, and self-assurance smite him full in the heart. It is 1936. Hitler is already in power, and a shift has occurred in Germany that Anna, George, and their friend Werner have not fully grasped. Europe is on the cusp of war when the three find themselves in a painful love triangle that plays between England and Germany. Facing decisions that will forever alter the course of their lives, they must choose and live with the consequences of their choices.

Reviewers have compared Oatley's pure, spare prose with that of A.S. Byatt and Umberto Eco. In Therefore Choose, his intimately rendered characters draw us irrevocably into their quest for meaning, hope, and understanding in a world diving headlong into chaos.

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"Of the many novels written about the Second World War, Oatley's stands out for its sensitivity and insight. Students of both history and psychology will find in Therefore Choose a fresh perspective on a well trod subject." — Malahat Review

"This well-written, intelligent, and even wise book deals with choice, specifically with the consequences of the choices that we make in life. It also shows the horror felt by those on both sides of the conflict that was the Second World War. The trauma is all here. So is the guilt, of both the victors and the defeated. Oatley is a good writer, and this is a fine book." — Shane Morgan, The Scene

"Unquestionably a literary triumph." — The Walrus


"A coming-of-age story quietly and compassionately told. Almost between the lines, the force of history bears down on these characters, as they learn what is possible and impossible in a broken world." — Anne Michaels, author of Fugitive Pieces

Customer Reviews

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Wise, Brilliant, Thought-Provoking Work Sept. 1 2010
This is a powerful, profound, complex novel, magisterial in ambition, magisterial in accomplishment. It treat some of the most significant events of recent human history, the before, during, and after of the Second World War (territory many of the best writers have shunned) and is still able to add much to what we know and feel about those events. More than that, it's a novel of ideas that's also a page turner. Time and again you pause to contemplate a thoughtful passage, only to quickly continue reading because the narrative pace calls too urgently to stay away for long. The scope: in time, roughly a decade; in space, a vivid firm sense of location, whether Cambridge, London, Berlin, Geneva, or .... the notorious Bergen Belsen Nazi concentration camp (the author movingly uses the words of his father, a British soldier present at the camp's liberation, in the horrific description of the place). And though the book is essentially idea driven, it introduces three memorable characters created in the round -- they resonate, they cohere. A literary and historical journey that lodges feelings and thoughts in your mind it is difficult to dislodge.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.3 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Therefore choose to think in great company Aug. 21 2010
By L. Larocque - Published on
I started this novel the way I do many works of fiction - prepared to dive into a good, well-told, satisfying tale. A few chapters into it, I realized I had embarked upon a philosophical tour de force. Great thinkers were appearing to tease and waken the reader to the complexities of of making choices, whether in love, career, moral responsibility, or war as Hitler's own choices begin to reveal themselves. Starting anew, I carefully read each succintly written chapter of this existential novel which quietly interleaves philosophy, psychology and aesthetics through a story of love and war. George and Werner, close friends at Cambridge, and Anna, a strong-willed intellectual friend and lover in Germany, take their love of ideas and pursuits of truth to disturbingly different places. Breath-taking in erudition and scope, this work, written by a cognitive psychologist and novelist, prompts the reader to grapple with what informs our choices and how these choices make us who we are.
1.0 out of 5 stars Peu excitant July 13 2012
By Eva Welsh - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition
J'ai trouvé l'histoire un peu intéressante mais il manquait vraiment de piquant. De plus, le livre était très ennuyant pas moment. Je ne le recommenderais pas à quelqu'un. L'idée était tellement bonne pourtant, domage qu'elle n'a pas été exploité à son pleins potentiel. George était un personnage qu'on ne pouvait à peine se sentir rapproché de lui. Ses émotions semblait extrèmement fausse. Bref, au moins j'ai été en mesure d'emprunter le lire au lieu de l'acheter.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars attachments and choices April 30 2010
By alison fleming - Published on
I enjoyed this book immensely. It is written in a very careful, succinct, and
thoughtful prose, with a lot of intelligence. It draws the reader in and holds
her/him there, until the end-which was unexpected and very moving.
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