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Publisher's Summary

“Two world wars and the passage of more than a century do not overshadow [Bernhard Schlink’s] story of lovers who never fully belong to each other, just as they never fully belonged to the world.” (Booklist)

“A brilliant novel about history and the nature of memory.” (Evening Standard)

A sweeping novel of love and passion from author of the international best seller The Reader about a woman out of step with her time, whose life is witness to some of the most tumultuous events of modern age.

Abandoned by her parents, young Olga is raised by her grandmother in a Prussian village in the early years of the 20th century. Smart and precocious, endearing but uncompromising, she fights against ingrained chauvinism to find her place in a world run by lesser men.

When Olga falls in love with her neighbor, Herbert, the son of a local aristocrat, her life is irremediably changed. While Herbert indulges his thirst for exploration and adventure, Olga is limited by her gender and circumstance. Her love for Herbert goes against all odds and encounters many obstacles, but even when they are separated, it endures.

Unfolding across decades - from the late 19th to the early 21st century - and across continents - from Germany to Africa and the Arctic, from the Baltic Sea to the German South West - Olga is an epic romance, and a wrenching tale of a woman’s devotion to a restless man in an age of constant change. Though Olga exists in the shadows of others, she pursues life to the fullest and her magnetic presence shines - revealing a woman complex, fascinating, and unforgettable.

Told in three distinct parts, brilliantly shifting from different points of view and narrative formats, Bernhard Schlink’s magnificent novel is a rich, full portrait of a singular woman and her world.

Translated from the German by Charlotte Collins

©2021 Bernhard Schlink (P)2021 HarperCollins Publishers

What listeners say about Olga

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Sad Tale with a few surprises

This was beautifully narrated, but a sad book when I was looking for something a little different.