Portrait of the Mother as a Young Woman by Friedrich Christian Delius

Portrait of the Mother as a Young Woman

Friedrich Christian Delius

WW2. A young, heavily pregnant woman makes her way through the streets of Rome to a concert. We eavesdrop on her inner conflict between being a good German and a good Christian and in doing so understand how innocent people can be complicit in evil. Don't be put off by a book written in a single sentence; the stream of consciousness delivery captures perfectly the private thoughts of the woman, which lets us feel such empathy and compassion.

Extract

... something fascinated her from the start about those eagles, they looked familiar and yet different, it had taken her a while to solve the puzzle and identify the difference, the German eagles looked sterner, they stood erect down to the last feather, fanned their wings in military fashion, or clutched the swastika,
whereas the Italian eagles were represented more like real eagles, almost like pets, with softer, more naturally formed feathers, stern also, but watching and waiting, they were more paternally strict and protective than militarily correct, and she had to admit that she preferred the Italian eagles, particularly these four, flanked by grinning, smirking griffins which, at her eye-level, looked out in every direction from the roof of the entrance gate to the Villa Borghese,...

Parallels
  • Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce
  • Before She Met Me by Julian Barnes