- The House by the Lake
- by Thomas Harding
- Narrated by Mark MeadowsI listened to this on audio and was disappointed when I realised that this was not fiction. The book depicts the history of this house near Berlin which saw inhabitants from the mid 1800s whose lives together make up a history lesson about Germany. German society and politics under the Kaiser, before and after WW1 and WW2 are illustrated through the series of owners and inhabitants of the house, including the author’s ancestors.
Especially the early parts of the book were interesting, although much of the personal details of the various inhabitants seemed unnecessary and almost intrudive; the descriptive details were often too many and too concise to keep my attention all of the times.
The stories about the house after WW2 began to be more interesting again, with a variety of information about life in Eastern Germany that was impressive. Again, I felt uncomfortable knowing some of the more personal details of the inhanitants, thinking that I would not want to have that kind of information out there about me and my family.
At that point the book lost me again, as I wondered how ethical is was to document such information for the purpose of the book. It dawned on me that this was going to be a literary museum rather than a shortened and edited story.The main point about the book and the house is that many parties can lay some legitimate claim to it, due to the changes of laws and misappropriations at various stages in history.
The house has become somewhat of a symbol of the history of Germany. Like I would in a museum, I wanted to skip the parts that weren’t of interest to me and that contained too many details.
The ending made up for it with a rather moving last chapter and epilogue. Definitely recommended for people interested in European history and probably better to read this than listening, as it’s easier to skip parts and to benefit from the illustrations.