Review: The Letter from an unknown woman

Book Reviews, Literature

She loved him even before the moment she first saw him. A child, infatuated with the mere idea of the handsome and well-educated young writer living next-door. Hours on end, she would look through the keyhole or stand beneath his windows, struggling to get a glimpse of the world that was his. Somehow, she thought, he was also thinking of her, even with all the women in silk dresses that come and go in the night.

Years go by, before the tragedy strikes. She is left utterly devastated, when her widowed mother decides to move away, leaving behind the man that barely knows of the girl’s existence. Yet, her return to Vienna was imminent. She spends the days working at a ready-to-wear shop, the evenings – by the windows of her old house, where the light burns as a beacon of hope inside the writer’s windows. All until one day, the object of her tender affections finally takes notice of her, without the slightest recognition.

The naive protagonist is captivated by the man and after a brief dinner, follows him to his apartment with no hesitation. Her happiness lasts three nights, until the writer announces he is about to leave and will get in touch with her once she returns. He never does…and she is pregnant. They see each other again, ten years later. She is a prostitute he spends the night with without recognizing her once again.

The Letter from an Unknown Woman by Stefan Zweig, once again, Zweig’s prose lays bare the essence of human emotion is a moving account of impossible love. The girl lays her heart out in a letter, a final testament of love she asks to pass on to the writer after the death of her son and her own. A story of devotion beyond all reason and incomprehensible hope, which ultimately led to a tragedy .

Rating: 4/5 


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