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Summary

Often compared to Madame Bovary and Anna Karenina, Theodor Fontane's Effi Briest tells the poignant story of a passionate and spontaneous young woman who becomes trapped in a dull and restrictive upper-class existence. 

Married at the tender age of 17 to Geert von Innstetten, an ambitious nobleman and civil servant nearly 20 years her senior, unworldly Effi is whisked away to the quiet town of Kessin, on the Baltic coast of Prussia, where she is left to raise a daughter alone while her husband travels for work. Effi's loneliness drives her into the arms of Major Crampas, a cunning womanizer who tempts her into adultery and lets her live out her passions. The affair is soon ended, and almost forgotten, until fate and negligence resurrect it, with devastating results.

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Public Domain (P)2020 Naxos Audiobooks

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A valiant attempt at a classic

Knowing this to be one of the most celebrated German novels of the 19th Century, I listened to it enthusiastically and, having been vaguely disappointed, immediately listened a second time to form a deeper view. On the second reading, I noticed many clever little twists which I had missed the first time, but I still felt that it is a valiant, but not quite successful, attempt at matching the quality of the English classics. Please don't think I am being chauvinistic. I greatly admire German culture and music, and they have certainly produced plenty of great writers (if I may make a suggestion, do consider reading Buddenbrookes), but this is like a second third rate Jane Austen. 3 stars for the novel, 5 for the performance