The Loft by Marlen Haushofer

The Loft by Marlen Haushofer“How can a writer create a story that is diverting enough to engage the reader while remaining true to the banality of life?” asks John Self in The Guardian. Well, this one doesn’t. This is one of the most tedious books I’ve read in quite some time. The writer keeps a mystery on the boil throughout – what happened in this woman’s past that ruined her relationship with her husband – but the author pushes and pulls at this central mystery for so long and so blatantly that the reader cannot continue to care. If you want your prejudices regarding the shallow and crass mental landscape of a housewife stuck doing menial chores for most of her existence confirmed, then this novel would be a good choice. However, it should be said that a great many readers found the central character’s voice charming. For me, the choice of first person narration was a curious one: it added nothing and took away whole worlds of possibilities. What the protagonist doesn’t see or fails to see quickly stops being the point of the novel, so why drag the matter along like a dying animal? Compared to Mrs Bridge by Evan S Connell, this novel is a failure; however, this may be an unfair comparison.

Mr A

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