“Damaged people damage other people.”
Nelly Schütt – was brought up in her parent’s inn. She works the reception desk and longs for a ‘bigger’ life. She begins to have an affair with one of the hotel’s regular customers, Paul. A man who is married. When he doesn’t leave his wife as promised, Nelly travels to Berlin to confront him and his wife. This confrontation does not go well. A few weeks later Paul texts Nelly to meet at a hotel. Nelly is overjoyed.
Then, the police come to Paul’s home. Nelly Schütt’s body has been found…
Nadja Kulka – was born in Poland where she lived with her younger brother and her prostitute mother. Now she works as a legal assistant at a Berlin law firm. She is an ex-convict who is trying to create a ‘normal’ life for herself. She is desperately lonely and feels like an outcast. Nadja is friendless until one woman who works with her helps her in a time of need. This woman, Laura, later left the law firm and is now married to Nadja’s boss. Several years later, after not seeing Laura for all that time, Nadja gets a call from Laura who has a problem… She has killed her lover.
Gero van Hoven – Nadja’s boss and Laura’s husband is the head of Berlin’s premier law firm. A powerful man who values his marriage and child over all else. Why? Because he has been disappointed in love more than once. His own parents had the very opposite of a happy marriage, and then two of the women he later became involved with left him.
Interspersed with the dual plot-lines of Nelly and Nadja, there are myriad letters. These missives are written anonymously to a child. They are written at the behest of a therapist who thinks the writer of the letters will benefit by writing them. These letters are never sent. Later when the author divulges who the letter writer is, and who she is writing to, I became sad and sympathetic.
After loving this author’s debut novel “Dear Child“, I was eager to read her second offering. This time, I didn’t feel the love quite so much.
The story was interesting, the characters damaged, and the plot somewhat confusing. This was ultimately Nadja’s story, and what a tragic story it was. Life has always been unkind to Nadja – and the older she became, the more cruel her life panned out.
This is a novel about twisted people playing mortally serious games. About manipulation, adultery, betrayal, actions and consequences, and framing the innocent.
It is a sad truth that some people are deemed expendable, that their lives are somehow less valuable than others.
The title of this novel was very fitting. It ended with a twist that I didn’t see coming. In summation, this was a convoluted psychological thriller perhaps written for certain acquired tastes. I hope that Hausmann’s next book is the same quality as her debut.
This review was written voluntarily and my rating was in no way influenced by the fact that I received a complimentary digital copy of this novel from Flatiron Books via NetGalley in order that I could participate in the Flatiron Official Blog Tour.
Romy Hausmann was born in the former GDR in 1981. At the age of twenty-four she became chief editor at a film production company in Munich. Since the birth of her son she has been working as a freelancer in TV. Dear Child is her thriller debut. Romy Hausmann lives with her family in a remote house in the woods near Stuttgart.
“Dear Child” was translated from the original German language by Jamie Bulloch, a British historian and translator of German literature.