#311 Goodbye to Berlin

I’ve been wanting to read Goodbye to Berlin (or Alexanderplatz, another Christopher Isherwood novel on the list) for ages – I did consider buying it for when I went to Berlin last year because it seemed appropriate (but evidentially didn’t) so it seemed a bit paradoxical to finally be reading it on the way to Portugal but there’s no way I wasn’t going to pounce on it when it finally appeared in the library – despite having no real idea what it would be about.

Isherwood shares his name with the main character and narrator (and the novel is slightly biographical) – amusingly pronounced “Isheyvoo” by one of his German landladies. The novel follow’s his life in 1939 pre-WWII Berlin – with pre war tensions beginning to creep in as the novel progresses – and the other characters with which he associates – an eccentric collection of Germans and Brits. Some of his fellow characters are those most directly threatened by the rise of the Nazi – namely, homosexuals Otto and Peter (although the later is British) and a Jewish heiress. In some ways this was like a series of vignettes, with each focused around the characters with whom Christopher was intimate at that time, as his lodgings and circumstances changed.

This was quite a quick read and I did enjoy it so it was worth the wait in many ways, however I wouldn’t be counting it amongst my favourite novels any time soon.

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