Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

The Post-Office Girl (New York Review Books…

The Post-Office Girl (New York Review Books Classics) (original 1982; edition 2008)

by Stefan Zweig, Joel Rotenberg (Translator)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
7304212,830 (4.13)1 / 168
Title:The Post-Office Girl (New York Review Books Classics)
Authors:Stefan Zweig
Other authors:Joel Rotenberg (Translator)
Info:NYRB Classics (2008), Edition: First English Printing, Paperback, 224 pages
Collections:Your library, Books Read 2013
Tags:fiction, austria, wwi

Work details

The Post Office Girl by Stefan Zweig (1982)


Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

English (38)  Spanish (1)  Bosnian (1)  French (1)  German (1)  All (42)
Showing 1-5 of 38 (next | show all)
ספר מעניין גם אם לא גמור ולא מושלם. מתאר במעורבות רגשית גדולה מה המלחמה הגדולה עשתה לאירופה ובמיוחד מה היא עשתה לאנשים. קצת כתוב יותר מדי ונוטה להיות פמפטיסטי אך עדיין מעניין. ( )
  amoskovacs | Nov 26, 2016 |
‘She has begun to find out who she is, and, having discovered this new world, to discover herself.’

Christine Hoflehner is the post office girl of the title, working in a village branch in Klein-Reifling, Austria, in the years after World War One. Her days are identical, each spent working away at the post office, just earning enough to make ends meet, and then returning to the small home she shares with her ailing mother. There is the constant awareness of most things being ‘too expensive’, of having to scrimp and save to survive.

Then one day an unexpected telegram arrives from Christine’s American aunt, a wealthy woman, inviting her to stay with her and her husband at a resort in the Swiss Alps. Not having had a break, let alone a holiday in years, after initial fear and apprehension Christine accepts the initiation. Traveling to meet them she is painfully aware and self-conscious as to her appearance, but as the journey goes on she becomes aware of the sights outside the train carriage window, and it dawns on her, with joy and surprise, that there is a whole world which she has never seen.

‘Indifferent and without desires before, now she’s beginning to realize what she’s been missing….This is her first glimpse of the unimaginable majesty of the Alps, and she sways with surprise…if not for the accident of this journey, she herself would have died, rotted away, and turned to dust with no inkling of their glory.’

Her stay at the resort with her aunt and uncle will irrevocably alter her life. She discovers a world of luxury, freedom and pleasure, surrounded by pretty clothes, beautiful interiors, exciting people, and she is intoxicated and totally swept away by it all. There are none of her usual worries about lack of money, of boredom and routine; everything is new and exciting, the world is there to be discovered, people to meet and places to see. She undergoes such a change in all aspects of her life; it is like a real Cinderella story, from rags to riches.

On waking on her first morning in the hotel, ‘she looks and around and remembers everything – vacation, holiday, freedom, Switzerland, her aunt, her uncle, the magnificent hotel! No worries, no responsibilities, no work, no time, no alarm clock! No stove, no one waiting, no pressure from anyone: the terrible mill of hardship that’s been crushing her life for ten years has ground to a halt for the first time….She feels self-confident and happy as never before.’

Suddenly having to return to her former life, to her job at the post office, to wear her old clothes again, to return to the village, having tasted this alternative, leaves Christine utterly devastated and ashamed. Looking at her old clothes in the hotel wardrobe, the language conveys how disgusted and black she feels about them and the life they remind her of; ‘the hated blouse she came in, dangling there as white and ghastly as a hanged man.’

Back in Klein-Reifling, ‘everything hideous, narrow, disagreeable about this little world she’s been pushed back into digs in its barbs until she can’t even feel her own pain.’ A chance meeting with an old friend of her brother-in-law in Vienna one Sunday, someone with whom she feels a common bond, will shape her life going forward.

What a moving, emotional novel that sees the human spirit briefly reach such happiness and then return to such deep despair, driven by a glimpse of what wealth can offer and dragged down by grinding poverty in the post war years. I feel the author has captured the drudgery and monotony that can overshadow a life, as well as the potential beauty. He has so convincingly demonstrated, through Christine, the highs and lows of capitalist society, and how this can affect one woman’s life. I felt such sympathy for her, having her hopes for a different life so suddenly raised and just as suddenly shattered.

The language is beautiful, the story compelling, and the pain palpable. This work was found after the author’s death by suicide in 1942. I would highly recommend it. ( )
  LindsaysLibrary | Aug 19, 2016 |
no one can help asking 'why not me?' when they see other people living high on the hog...Why not me too?
Bysally tarboxTOP 500 REVIEWERon 26 August 2012
Format: Paperback
Utterly engrossing novel of two parts. In the first, Christine, a faded 28 year old clerk lives a poor and humdrum life in 1930s Austria. Unexpectedly a rich aunt invites her for a brief holiday; in sensuous descriptions of the luxurious hotel and the gorgeous new clothes, Zweig shows how Christine sees what she has been missing. Suddenly wealthy men are paying her attention, everyone respects and admires her...till the holiday is over and she is returned to her old life. Moody and dissatisfied, she cannot recapture her previous self.
In part 2, she encounters Ferdinand, another angry and resentful individual; years stuck in Siberia as a result of the First World War have ruined his career opportunities.....
Up until the last page I was wondering what would happen, and it didn't go the way I expected! A highly compelling read. ( )
  starbox | Jul 9, 2016 |
So a lot more people liked The Post Office Girl than I did. One of my crew read some of it in German, and complained about the translation and especially the title. For those of you interested, it's a novel that takes place after World War I in Austria. The title character, Crystl, is leading a grim life in a safe job. She has lost her brother in the war, her father is dead, and she and her mother have devolved to a less than genteel poverty after a more comfortable life before the war.

Into this joyless life, she receives an invitation from her aunt, who has been living in the U.S., to join her and her husband at their vacation hotel. Although Crystl feels ashamed and totally out of place when she arrives, her aunt immediately takes her in hand and does the fairy godmother makeover. Crystl is accepted into the social whirl and giddily participates, until her low-class status is revealed and she is forced to return home.

The last third of the story details how she is consumed with rage, how she meets a man who feels similarly wronged by his treatment after the war, and how their relationship re-emphasizes their feelings of despair. They then plan a bold escape - of sorts.

I found it terribly grim, but also relevant to today, reflecting on the gap between the 1% and the rest of the country, the ways in which veterans are not treated adequately for their traumas, and the ways in which poverty is still an issue in this country. Read it at your own risk. ( )
  ffortsa | Jun 24, 2016 |
Review: The Post Office Girl by Stefan Zweig. (Translated by Joel Rotenberg)

The manuscript for this book was discovered after the death of Stefan Zweig in Brazil in 1942. He published an immense volume of work including many highly praised biographies, novellas and short stories. In his day he was one of the most widely read and highly regarded writers in Europe. This novel, possibly not as he may have completed but it provides an excellent illustration of his writing and fascinating storytelling skills. The story is very unhurried, it’s not a packed with action, but the characters, well developed, come to life for the reader to really understand their feelings, hopes, motivations to where the ending is mysterious and left open for the readers imagination. It was an enjoyable read.

I liked the style of the bleak contrast between poverty and incredible wealth in the post-war era. Both sides are portrayed well as you follow Christine’s character at the age of twenty-eight advances from rags to riches and back again. The story flowed well through a desperately lonely and unfulfilling life of Christine who worked as a post-office employee in Austria in the 1920’s after the inflation and financial ruin because of the aftermath of WWI. She also struggled to keep her disabled mother on her small amount of salary in a small two room attic space.

One day her mother received a letter from her estrange American sister who was vacationing in Switzerland with her well-to-do husband. There was an invitation attached to the letter but she was not healthy enough to travel so she offered it to her daughter Christine. This is where Christine feels hope and sees doors opening for her. She enters a new life, a different life, she finds herself among the wealthy circles of luxury. After nine days of having fun and meeting high society people Christine’s finds her dream-life over. Christine is sent home by her Aunt not knowing the real reason why.

Moody and filled with rage Christine struggles to adapt back into her poor, unflattering former life. She meets Ferdinand, an injured soldier, who is equally bitter about his life. After some time of dating they both felt they had only two solutions for how to get out of the wretched lives they were leading. They made a plan, whether it was the one Stefan Zweig would have wanted, no one is sure….I felt Zweig left it unfinished for a reason, suicide is the path he choose for himself…..The story.. Who really knows..! ( )
  Juan-banjo | May 31, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 38 (next | show all)
no reviews | add a review

» Add other authors (7 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Zweig, Stefanprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Deresiewicz, WilliamAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rotenberg, JoelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Information from the All Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Related movies
Information from the All Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Awards and honors
First words
One village post office in Austria is much like another: seen one and you've seen them all.
Memory is so corrupt that you remember only what you want to; if you want to forget about something, slowly but surely you do. [115]
Fear is a distorting mirror in which anything can appear as a distortion of itself, stretched to terrible proportions; once inflamed, the imagination pursues the craziest and most unlikely possibilities. [116]
"You wouldn't believe what a dead finger does to a living hand.
"The smell is suffocating. The smell of stale cigarette smoke, bad food, wet clothes, the smell of the old woman's dread and worry and wheezing."
"Poverty stinks, stinks like a ground-floor room off an air-shaft, or clothes that need changing. You smell it yourself, as though you were made of sewage."
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
From the NYRB edition cover: " The logic of capitalism, boom and bust, is unremitting and unforgiving. But what happens to human feeling in a completely commodified world? In The Post-Office Girl, Stefan Zweig, a deep analyst of the human passions, lays bare the private life of capitalism.
Christine toils in a provincial post office in post-World War I Austria, a country gripped by unemployment. Out of the blue, a telegram arrives from Christine's rich American aunt inviting her to a resort in the Swiss Alps. Christine is immediately swept up into a world of inconceivable wealth and unleashed desire. She feels herself utterly transformed: nothing is impossible. But then, abruptly, her aunt cuts her loose. Christine returns to the post office, where yes, nothing will ever be the same.
Christine meets Ferdinand, a bitter war veteran and disappointed architect, who works construction jobs when he can get them. They are drawn to each other, even as they are crushed by a sense of deprivation, of anger and shame. Work, politics, love, sex: everything is impossible for them. Life is meaningless, unless, through one desperate and decisive act, they can secretly remake their world from within.

Cinderella meets Bonnie and Clyde in Zweig's haunting and hard-as-nails novel, completed during the 1930s, as he was driven by the Nazis into exile, but left unpublished at the time of his death. The Post-Office Girl, available here for the first time in English, transforms our image of a modern master's achievement."
Haiku summary

No descriptions found.

The post-office girl is Christine, who looks after her ailing mother and toils in a provincial Austrian post office in the years just after the Great War. One afternoon, as she is dozing among the official forms and stamps, a telegraph arrives addressed to her. It is from her rich aunt, who lives in America.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
2 avail.
129 wanted

Popular covers


Average: (4.13)
2 1
2.5 3
3 22
3.5 9
4 62
4.5 16
5 46

NYRB Classics

An edition of this book was published by NYRB Classics.

» Publisher information page

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


You are using the new servers! | About | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 115,087,136 books! | Top bar: Always visible