Author: Daniel Glattauer (English translation by Katharina Bielenberg, Jamie Bulloch)
Publisher: Deuticke (German), Silver Oak (English)
Read: December 26 - 28, 2012
Love Virtually ended as Leo abruptly departed for a new life in the United States, determined to end once and for all the intense cyber-exchange that threatened Emmi's marriage and his own happiness. But shouldn't these unconventional lovers--intimates who have never met in person--get another chance? Readers thought so, and begged for more. The captivating story continues as Leo returns from Boston and gradually resumes his email contact with Emmi. But now he has his own real-life relationship, with Pamela, a woman from the US. Still, Emmi and Leo cannot stop writing to each other, no matter the consequences. When Pamela learns of Leo's secret and unusual liaison, she returns home, and Emmi's marriage to Bernhard is tested to its limits. Once again Daniel Glattauer delivers an irresistible page-turner--and a sequel worthy of the original.
After breaking off contact with Emmi and moving to Boston for almost 10 months, Leo is back in town and answers one of Emmi’s old emails, rekindling their electronic correspondence. Whereas their earlier emails read like light and playful romantic flirtations, the post-Boston exchanges are more serious attempts at finding a place in the real world for their unusual friendship. After all, Emmi is still married with children, and Leo has a new girlfriend who wants to move in with him. So where does that leave their desperate longing for each other’s correspondence? Finally, Emmi and Leo meet in person (which the reader only finds out through subsequent email exchanges). Now that they have met in the “real world”, can their friendship go on as before? Will meeting split them up, or take them to the next level? These are questions Glattauer attempts to answer, again solely by sharing Emmi and Leo’s email exchanges with the reader.
Personally, I loved the cliffhanger ending of Gut gegen Nordwind and admired the author for having the courage to defy the temptation to serve up a neat, tidy and happy ending. Because of the uncertainty of the ending, the novel stayed with me for some time, and I kept thinking about Emmi and Leo, picturing several scenarios of how their relationship may have fared in the future – and I was content with that. However, when I found out that there was a sequel, the temptation was too great to resist, and of course I did rush out to buy a copy. I don’t regret reading the sequel, but in some regards it took away some of the originality and the charm of Emmi and Leo’s unusual love story.
Whilst the first instalment was charming, unique and very addictive, number two describes the struggle of merging fantasy with reality, of trying to integrate a virtual world with the real one. Glattauer does an excellent job in portraying the challenges of being confronted with reality, the sacrifices and choices which need to be made by Emmi and Leo to continue their friendship. The euphoria of first love has gone – and they are now faced with tough choices. Continually drawn between their attraction to one another and their other responsibilities, their on-again / off-again relationship is reflected in their verbose email exchanges, which lack some of the charm of the earlier novel but still managed to make me smile and enjoy the journey. Emmi’s rejection and bitterness is reflected in her earlier emails, as is Leo’s resignation – despite several attempts to break it off, their addiction to one another continuously makes them write back again, despite all logical reasons not to.
Glattauer’s writing style still managed to charm me and draw me into the story, and his word plays were fun to read. If you liked Gut gegen Nordwind, and have longed to find out what happens to Emmi and Leo, then you will probably enjoy this book. If you hated the first one, then I don’t recommend reading the sequel. All in all, “Alle Sieben Wellen” is a light, enjoyable and feel-good summer read, which left me with a smile on my face.