“Who am I, anyway, she thinks with a chill, what’s come over me? How can I be doing this? I was always so stiff and clumsy, the dance teacher said so, yet now I’m leading him instead of the reverse. And how easily I’m talking, perhaps even with some intelligence, because he’s listening so graciously, this eminent man. Had this new dress, this new world made me so different? Or was this inside me all along, and I was just so faint hearted, too timid? That’s what mother always said. Maybe everything’s not so hard, maybe life is so much easier than I thought, you just need courage, you just need to have a sense of yourself, and then you’ll discover your hidden resources.” 📮
Hello bookstagram! I was going to post something else today but going through my notes last night I came across this passage above that I’d highlighted back in December while reading Stefan Zweig’s The Post Office Girl. I don’t know what it was that made me highlight this at that time but I do know that this has great significance in the here and now. The past me was surely onto something, it seems.
This novella, set in post WWII Austria, tells the story of a post office girl, Christine Hoflehner, whose life follows the same pattern every single day: going to work, sorting and stamping the mail, and then going home to care for a bedridden and depressed mother. Having absolutely no hope of ever coming out of this poverty and desolation, she’s made peace with her life, until the day she receives a telegram from her estranged aunt inviting her to spend a summer with them by the Alps as a way of making amends for not staying in touch with Christine and her mother for over 20 years.
Her transformation as she goes from this life of drudgery to a posh hotel by the Swiss Alps - where everyone is merry and without a care in the world, and there’s laughter and dancing all day long - to being thrown back into that monotonous post office life in Austria, and what followed afterwards was just so real and heart wrenching to read. -
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