A Whole Life by Robert Seethaler
A perfect book. This is the simple story of a simple man, simply told.
Andreas Egger, a deeply-feeling man of few words, endures all the trials and tribulations of his life with determination and fundamental acceptance. He survives an abusive unloved childhood, the beatings that break his thigh and leave him with a permanent limp, the cruel unexpected death of his much-loved newly pregnant wife, broken legs, a war and subsequent eight year incarceration in a Russian work camp, returning to a very changed home. Here he adapts to a new occupation and as he gets old, he is content to live alone, sustained by the love he once so briefly experienced. In spite of everything he never sees himself as a victim, and neither does the reader.
Throughout his life he has worked hard and adapted to circumstances with a quiet dignity that inspired the respect and love of those who knew him. His one flamboyant gesture was to blaze his love for Marie from the mountainside, a wonderfully stirring image.
His love for the mountains pervades his life, even though he knows their fickle harsh unpredictability. And the author evokes the sights and sounds of these mountains with poetic intensity. There are captivating moments of quiet humour and wonderfully profound insights into life
I strain to find the right words to sum up this unforgettable book. It is tender, loving, stoical, poetic.
In fact perfect.