Fiction, Historical Fiction

The End of Days by Jenny Erpenbeck

Recently, I’m having a bit of a “book rut”. What I mean by this is that I will start a book that I’ve been waiting to read and then become disinterested for no reason. A friend suggested that I choose a book that I wasn’t expecting to read and see if that helps me break out of the cycle. That’s why I chose this novel. I heard it was good but it didn’t seem like my style so I hadn’t planned to read it. All I can say now is that I’m glad I did.

This novel is all about how life can be different depending on the choices we make. It’s all about the “what ifs”. We follow an unnamed female protagonist through five books, each which shows different stages of her life that could or could not have happened. In the first book, she is a baby that has died in the early 20th century Hapsburg Empire. But what if she hadn’t passed away? In the second book, we see our protagonist emerging as a strong-willed teenager who gets caught up in a relationship that leads to her death again. With each book, the story progresses further and further through the protagonist’s lifespan, thus exploring the opportunities that fate brings into each individual’s life.

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. It was told in the voices of different characters but all from a third-narrative point of view. We never find out the names of any of the main characters; although this could create some confusion when keeping all of the stories straight, it allows the reader to focus on the bigger picture being presented by the author. I love the idea of fate; it scares me to not know my future but it also gives me hope for change. Right now, I am going through a bit of a struggle where I feel forced to make many difficult decisions that I don’t feel ready to make. This novel was just what I needed to change my viewpoint:at the end of the day, we have only so much under our control; life is going to take us where it is going to take us and we are just going to have to go with it. This novel has the power to make you feel depressed but it also has the power to inspire you. Again, this is a choice that YOU will have to make. Again, this novel is deep and beautifully descriptive, and definitely worth reading. So give it a chance and let yourself go on an adventure with fate!

Happy reading ~

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