The Post Office Girl by Stefan Zweig

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A favourite recent book was Zweig’s Beware of Pity, which I thought was his only novel so I was delighted to find out this manuscript was discovered after his death.

The first half of the book is about Christine, minor civil servant in a forgotten Austrian post office. Her life is colourless and joyless. Picked up by wealthy relatives, she undergoes a transformative experience. Enveloped in luxury, she takes on a new persona and for the first time in her life revels in wealth, joy, admirers.

Then she is suddenly dropped by her aunt, and return to her life before desolate and dissatisfied- part two of the book.

But woe! Why did the blurb not think to mention it was an unfinished novel?! The book is, as a result, so unevenly weighted that I much preferred the first half to the second, where she tried to reconcile herself to dark corners of Vienna. The story takes a turn for the darker- post war politics and the grim realities of poverty intrude on the Cinderella story.

Maybe I’m like Christine and I’ve fallen for the glitz and glamour of Austrian high society and therefore disinterested in the return to boring bureaucracy.

Read: If you’re desperate for something you can’t afford.

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