Looking for some diversions over the break I actually read a pile of novels for the first time in ages and The Reader was one them. Though the theme of justice as mentioned by Kelly is a strong one throughout the book the deeper running themes of love and fidelity to ideals and how we react to the inevitable questioning when they are thrown into question sets this story apart from a regular romance.
This excerpt encapsulates The Reader for me;
Part 1 Chapter 9
Why does it make me so sad when I think back to that time? Is it yearning for past happiness-for I was happy in the weeks that followed, in which I really did work like a lunatic and passed the class, and we made love as if nothing else in the world mattered. Is it the knowledge of what came later, and that what came out afterwards had been there all along? Why?
Why does what was beautiful suddenly shatter in hindsight because it concealed dark truths? Why does the memory of years of happy marriage turn to gall when our partner is revealed to have had a lover all those years? Because such a situation makes it impossible to be happy? But we were happy! Sometimes the memory of happiness cannot stay true because it ended unhappily. Because happiness is only real if it lasts forever?
… Is this what sadness is all about? Is it what comes over us when beautiful memories shatter in hindsight because the remembered happiness fed not just on actual circumstances but on a promise that was not kept?