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Julia by Otto de Kat
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Julia (2008)

by Otto de Kat

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6711178,380 (3.87)11
  1. 00
    The Reader by Bernhard Schlink (charl08)
    charl08: Both novels deal with the after effects of Nazism, felt many years after the war ends.
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Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
This is a very sensitive story. Christiaan Dudok is old and decides to put an end to his life. In the few hours before his suicide he makes his life review. Most important to him is the time with Julia, when he was to learn a year of practice in Lübeck with a competitor company of his father, where he met Julia. But everything is different. Julia's brother is a theater-maker and a communist, so he and Julia are constantly on the run at the time of WWII. In the Kristallnacht Christiaan sees Juliet the last time. She urges him to go home to the Netherlands. There he has to take over the company of his father, who dies soon after Christiaan's return. Christaan ​​marries a woman in the Netherlands. He is never really happy with her because his thoughts are often with Julia. In his last hours Christiaan thinks back to his life without bitterness.
De Kats's writing style is pregnant and without embellishment. He lets the reader immerse himself in the thought-world of the protagonist and thus follow his life. ( )
  Ameise1 | Feb 27, 2017 |
The first chapter of this novella was utterly brilliant – I loved the chauffeur, Van Dijk, and his discovery of and reaction to his dead boss. I thought he was a wonderful character and was instantly gripped by his voice and story.

It’s a shame then that from the second chapter onwards and for almost the rest of the book, we are given instead the story of Chris, the dead boss, and the events both in the war and leading up to his death. I’m sorry to say that Chris was a very irritating character and one of the most indecisive and weak literary men I’ve ever had the displeasure of meeting. This may be in part due to the fact that a large portion of his story is told to us rather than being shown to us, so I felt very disengaged indeed from what is happening to him. How I longed to return to that first chapter.

I also didn’t believe in Chris’s deep and abiding love for Julia, the woman he loses in the war. Indeed, Julia, like Chris, also tells us a great deal of things and becomes very quickly wearisome as a character. Really, the two of them deserved each other, but were of little interest to me as a reader. That said, the prose is very nice, but this factor is nowhere near enough to make a book sing. And Chris takes far too long in getting (at last!) to the moment of death, alas …

So it was with great relief that the final chapter brings us back to that wonderful chauffeur once more, and the ending is very powerful indeed. Van Dijk very much deserves his own book and is wasted in this one.

3 stars: a missed opportunity for a great character who is forced to remain on the sidelines ( )
  AnneBrooke | Dec 10, 2014 |
Fascinating refections on a life that the main character,Chris Dudok, chooses to end his life because he feels he has lost everything, beginning with his love after fleeing from her and the Nazi's out off Lübeck. Vaguely connected with Thomas Mann and family history of the Mann's Buddenbrooks because Dudok 'chooses' to stay in family-bussiness and marries the obvious candidate although he almost escaped to Lübeck and meets his love of his life Julia, who is persecuted by the Nazi's and she asks him to flee to Holland. She's not killed by the Nazi's like her brother but dies in the Allied air raid in 1942, which destroys nearly the whole historic city.
You never really feel sympathy with the main character, who lost the ability to feel strong emotions. The chapter's with his butler/chauffeur seen from his perspective are the most moving. ( )
  Dettingmeijer | Aug 24, 2014 |
'Death by his own hand. "Painless." Still, there must have been a fair amount of pain before getting this far.', June 29, 2014

This review is from: Julia (Kindle Edition)
The novel opens with a chauffeur finding the body of his elderly boss next to a bottle of pills and a 1942 newspaper. The succeeding chapters move between Dudok as a young man,working in Lubeck in the late thirties, and his last day on earth now. As Germany teeters on the brink of war, Dudok meets the love of his life, Julia, a spirited young woman who refuses to be swept along with the herd mentality that embraces Nazism.
Their ultimatel destinies leave Dudok with a 'perennially supressed, deeply buried sense of yearning.'...
I found this rather a forgettable novel, despite the subject matter. ( )
  starbox | Jun 29, 2014 |
Superifically written, reads almost like an outline at times, not enough fleshing out of details, for instance the German part does not feel German in any way, the main character comes across as weak, why does Julia love him? Why does he decide to kill himself when he does, in August? 9 November might have been a better date...I liked the chapter from the caretaker's point of view best, but it didn't go anywhere muich. Read it quickly and shall forget it, I think. The design for the cover is excellent (photo from the Christabel Bielenberg estate) and the book generally a pleasure to hold in one's hand. Pity about the writing...I'll try something else by this author though, he can write. ( )
  michalsuz | Aug 26, 2013 |
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For my mother
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Sunday was his day off, as was Monday.
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Set in pre-war Germany during the Nazi regime, Julia is the story of a life lived wrongly, of a love so great that it endures for decades - and yet still fails.

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