Tag Archives: Daniel Glattauer

Every Seventh Wave by Daniel Glattauer

Every Seventh Wave - Daniel GlattauerEvery Seventh Wave – Daniel Glattauer
Translated from the German Alle sieben Wellen by Katharina Bielenberg and Jamie Bulloch

MacLehose Press, February 2013
Review copy provided by publisher
Buy: Amazon | Bookdepository *

Every Seventh Wave continues where Love Virtually ends. [Thus, spoilers for Love Virtually from here on out]. Emmi and Bernhard are still married. From time to time, Emmi tries to email Leo, but initially all she receives is the auto reply message Leo set when he moved to Boston. However, when Leo returns from his stay in Boston, Emmi and Leo renew their email contact. And soon that contact starts to slip over the border between friendship and more again, just as Leo has his girlfriend from Boston, Pamela, move in with him.

First, let me briefly state that I like the title for this sequel much better than the English one for the first book. I agree with Caroline that the German title Gut gegen Nordwind captures much more of the book than the rather straightforward Love Virtually. The German title is integrated with the story as the idea of writing while the north wind keeps Emmi up at night is a theme in the novel. Similarly, the idea behind the title for this sequel is part of the story. It has to do with an anecdote and a pretty heavy hint of Emmi towards Leo. However, I won’t reveal more as that might be considered spoiling the book.

As with any sequel, with Every Seventh Wave comes the question if a second book was necessary. I am undecided on the answer. That is to say, no, I do not think it was necessary. Love Virtually is very much a self-contained novel with an ending that works and need not have been revisited. Sure, the ending was perhaps more bitter than sweet, but it certainly fit the story. I was not sure if I wanted to witness that ending being revisited, or revised, in a sequel. And yet, having enjoyed Love Virtually, it was no torturous thought to read this second novel.

Every Seventh Wave is just as compelling as Love Virtually. It has the same witty email exchanges, the same serious undertones (perhaps even more serious at times). Yes, some of the lapses in the story come from the same thing (the “should we meet?” cycle is revisited, albeit in different ways, and sometimes made me sigh), but overall it is a very convincing read. One that you may finish on the couch on a Saturday night. Or during the week because you just want to visit someone else’s life. Love Virtually and Every Seventh Wave for me were escapist reads, but of the most enjoyable sort. For it is not escapism clouded in pink. Instead, there is a realism to it that makes it all the more  compelling.

Every Seventh Wave highlighted some of the excellence of Love Virtually for me. Even things that I had missed in my first contemplation of the book. At the same time, it addresses some of the problems I had with the first installment, or perhaps I should say that it made visible what I couldn’t quite articulate about it in my previous post. Every Seventh Wave managed to sell Emmi to me in a way that Love Virtually never did. Emmi mentions how the ending of the first book, the understanding between Leo and Bernhard, makes her feel cheap, as if she’s a commodity to be traded between men. Yes, I found myself thinking, that’s exactly what made me a little squeamish about it. She also recaptures some of her strength by allowing herself to contemplate her own marriage, and its pros and cons, in a more open and honest way than she did in Love Virtually. (at the same time, it made me wonder if it did not undercut the allowance for diversity of human relationships, which was one of the strengths of the first book?)

I enjoyed Every Seventh Wave, even if I am still not quite convinced that it needed to be written. If you enjoyed Love Virtually, it almost follows that you will enjoy this sequel. In some ways, Every Seventh Wave managed to bring more depth and layers to a story that wasn’t wholly uncomplicated from the outset. There is, I think, a darker undertone to this one that I definitely appreciated. Almost inevitably, there were also episodes that made the story more convenient than it was in the first book. That might not tell you very much, but I am trying not to spoil the manner in which the lives of Leo and Emmi (and Bernhard and Pamela) develop. Let me just say that Every Seventh Wave had its weaknesses, just like I felt Love Virtually had them although perhaps in different places. But despite those minor points of criticism, I felt myself rooting for Emmi and Leo. I felt love, and frustration, and lust, and disappointment along with them. Daniel Glattauer managed to convince me, again.

Other Opinions: Rikkis Teleidoscope, Beauty is a Sleeping Cat, Winstonsdad’s Blog, The Little Reader Library, A Fiction Habit [on the BBC4 Radio Play],  Sasha & the Silverfish, Yours?

* These are affiliate links. If you buy a product through either of them, I will receive a small percentage of the purchase price.

Love Virtually by Daniel Glattauer

Love Virtually - Daniel GlattauerLove Virtually – Daniel Glattauer
Translated from the German Gut gegen Nordwind by Jamie Bulloch and Katharina Bielenberg

MacLehose Press, 2012
Buy: Amazon | Bookdepository *

Love Virtually is, as the title says, a book about virtual love. About an email affair between two people who meet serendipitously online. Although, perhaps I should not call it an affair, as really, the characters – Leo and Emmi – do not know how to define it themselves: is it friendship, is it a kind of virtual diary, is it more, but how much more? And will whatever it is stand the test of a real life meeting. Would they dare make that step, and what will happen?

I feel my post should come with a huge disclaimer. It would read: I have a hate-sadness relationship with books that verge into the arena of adultery. It is because it is one of my biggest nightmares of possible occurrences. Moreover, I was not won over by the marketing of this book: its title, its original cover which featured a cupid that in my eyes was almost devil-like, its premise of a novel completely told through email exchange (even if I do not dislike epistolary novels). I was resistant to reading this book. And I have been strong in my resistance for two years. Until a review copy of the sequel landed on my doormat. Until I was reminded of all the excitement about Love Virtually. Until I remembered Sasha’s review in which she mentions her resistance and how the book won her over anyway. So I caved, and read it, in order to prepare for, to decide if I even wanted to read, the second installment.

The thing is, I find I have very little to say about this book that has not been said before. It is addictive. A strange and sometimes uncomfortable addictiveness as you keep on following the email exchange of two persons who are falling for each other, in some way or other, while also struggling to maintain their other relationships: Leo with his on and off again girlfriend Marlene, and Emmi with her husband, Bernhard, with which she claims to be happily married. It is voyeuristic at times. The narratives lapse at times, I felt. At times I was frustrated by the endless repeat of “shall we meet?” “should we?” “what for?” “what would happen?” The circular reasoning. And yet, I could not put the book down. I read it during a train journey and 5 pages before the end I arrived at my destination. Again: frustrating. But this time because I was hooked. With all my resistance to any hint of adultery. With all my resistance to what this book told me about happy marriage (or Emmi’s definition of it, anyway, because I think – call me naive – that marriage can be happy and companionable, and  perhaps things become routine at times, but I want to believe that you can choose to be there for each other, to make it exciting sometimes, I don’t know). But for all my resistance, I secretly became a bit of an Emmi and Leo shipper.

I also wondered at how I felt about Emmi. I might have disliked her more than Leo, even if both are flawed. I’m starting to notice that I dislike it when in a book I like a male character so much more than a female character. If I feel that she’s being more of an obstacle to anything than the other character. It makes me wonder if I’m consciously pushed to do so by the author. And I do not know what to make of it.

All in all, I was puzzled by my own fascination while reading it. Probably because I had been so resistant to even contemplate liking it from the very start. In conclusion: this is a post in which I admit how sometimes I read a book going in with an overwhelming prejudice against it. And how I fight against my slow conversion to liking it. And how it sucks me in anyway. And how in the end, I do not know what to write because really, all I can say is: This is a great read, it will make you want to keep on reading. I have not quite decided whether or not it is of stellar quality. I cannot quite shake the feeling, as often happens with books that have this addictiveness over them, whether or not it holds up aside from that aspect of it. No, that’s not true. It is definitely deeper than just a love affair. It is an exploration of virtual relationships. Of how they might be able to offer us something other than what we have in real life. Something that is not less “real”, but perhaps more complimentary to real life. It also discusses the very fragility of security in life, in how we want to uphold the idea that our lives are stable, but how that is not always – not often – true. Perhaps that is why this book scares me, while it convinced me at the same time.

I am infinitely glad that I do not do ratings. For all my conflicted feelings do not translate to any rating expressed in 1 to 5 stars. I will be honest: I will always feel conflicted about this book. Nevertheless, while reading, I liked it, despite all of that. I could not look away. Could not help it. So there you have it. I think most people would feel less conflicted anyway. And might therefore feel less weird about admitting: yes, I read it, I enjoyed it, I liked it very much.

Other Opinions: The Little Reader Library, Book Monkey, Beauty is a Sleeping Cat, Winstonsdad’s Blog, Leeswammes’ Blog,  Vulpes Libris, rikkis teleidoscope,  DizzyC’s Little Book Blog, Sasha & the Silverfish, Farm Lane Books.
Did I miss your post about this book? Let me know and I will add it to the list.

* These are affiliate links. If you buy a product through either of them, I will receive a small percentage of the purchase price.