Tag Archives: Austrian literature

{Review} Letter from an Unknown Woman – Stefan Zweig

As read for European Reading Challenge (Austria)

This may just be my book of the year…


‘To you who never knew me… my child died yesterday’.

On his birthday, a famous writer receives a letter from a woman he does not know but who has loved him since she was a girl. As her life ebbs away at each stroke of her pen, he learns about a love he never knew could exist.

Zweig’s short stories are good, but Letter from an Unknown Woman blows all the ones I’ve read until now out of the water. The concept is simple, the characters are few and the story is short but this somehow made the lady’s tale still sadder. It also made her convincingly obsessed with the man she is writing to.

Her acceptance of his superficiality should have annoyed my inner-feminist. Instead it made my heart bleed to hear her recount the lack of recognition on the love of her life’s face at each chance (or otherwise) encounter. His employee on the other hand, recognised her immediately after not having seen her since she was a girl. This man evidently thought that all women are the same (ie. not worth remembering) even though he treats them courteously in the bed-room.

Wild Night In does not condone stalking BUT, and I don’t know how to explain this…  But when Edward-from-Twilight told Bella that he watched her every night when she slept, it was a bit creepy (especially as they had barely spoken before) and made me want to hit my head against things. In Letter from an Unknown Woman, the lady’s confession that she had sat and watched his window just seemed unbearably sad. She never demanded anything from him that he wasn’t willing to give.

Every twist or rather, unravelling of the plot spurred me to read on and hear this woman unburden herself of her story for the first and last time. I am going to break the self-imposed book buying ban for this one. It is worth it.

Wild Night In’s Verdict? WIN!


Posted by on March 30, 2012 in Books, European Reading Challenge


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