Today it’s my pleasure to welcome Ursula Dubosarsky to my blog, to write about her favourite book of the year.
Effi Briest by Theodore Fontane (1895)
A friend bought me this Penguin edition of the classic German novel as a gift in a second-hand bookshop after we’d had lunch together a few months ago. I read it quickly, that same night. It’s frequently classified as another great nineteenth century novel about adultery, along with Madame Bovary, The Age of Innocence or Anna Karenina. But I found it much more disturbing than any of those and I’m not sure why – I don’t usually analyse my responses to books too much. But I remain very upset by it. Perhaps because despite the apparently genial and civilised milieu, it’s far closer to the savagery of the murderous adultery of Therese Raquin – and yet the characters seem not to notice it right to the devastating end, including Effi herself. I see that Rainer Fassbinder made a film of the novel in 1974 (which I haven’t seen) and gave it this title: Fontane Effi Briest or Many People Who Are Aware of Their Own Capabilities and Needs Just Acquiesce to the Prevailing System in Their Thoughts and Deeds, Thereby Confirming and Reinforcing It. Hmm.
Ursula Dubosarsky is a multi-award winning Australian writer of over 50 books for children. Her website is at https://ursuladubosarsky.squarespace.com/