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Book DetailsISBN: 9781526638540
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Book Review: What You Can See From Here: The International Bestseller translated by Tess Lewis by Mariana Leky - Reviewed by CloggieA (13 Jul 2021)
4.5?s What You Can See From Here is a novel by German author, Mariana Leky. It is translated from German by Tess Lewis. Selma has once again dreamt of an okapi and that means someone is going to die. Selma’s ten-year-old granddaughter Luisa has permission to tell only her best friend, Martin, but word gets around anyway. While the villagers claim they don’t believe it, they are all unsettled, because that’s what has happened previously.
The idea that someone is going to die stimulates a rash of revelations; even those villagers sceptical of the impending death are motivated to confess secrets: undeclared love; the diaries of an unfaithful husband read; a burning desire to leave the village and see the world; indecision about ending a marriage; the poles of a hunting hide sawn through.
As twenty-four hours pass without a death, the village breathes a communal sigh of relief, so when death comes a few hours later, it’s a shock. But to whom it comes is truly devastating.
Twelve years on, there are changes in the village: some have acted on those revelations; others have not. Luisa, working for a grumpy book shop owner, encounters a beautiful Buddhist monk in the woods. But he’s only in the Westerwald temporarily: soon he’ll return to his monastery in Japan
Leky’s tale has a very European feel: both the style and the content of this novel are very reminiscent of Fredrik Backman’s work. She fills the novel with unusual characters, some a little quirky, some downright eccentric: an aspiring weightlifter, a cranky young recluse, a florist specialising in wreaths, and an expert in folk remedies, to name a few.
While many of the characters are named, some are most often denoted by occupation or status: the optician, the shopkeeper, the Mayor’s wife. The reader is privy to the innermost thoughts and concerns of the main players, some of which are a rich source of humour.
Leky often gives her characters wise words and insightful observations. At one point Luisa tells the reader: “Selma wanted to talk about death with us, but we wouldn’t let her, as if Death were a distant relative we were ignoring because he always behaved badly.”
If the reader is not familiar with the okapi, they should definitely ensure they see an image of this strange and remarkable animal. The latter chapters do drag a little, but this is ultimately a heart-warming, if slightly weird, read. This unbiased review is from an uncorrected proof copy provided by NetGalley and Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
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