Five women attempt the impossible – to love, to be strong, and to stay true to themselves.
Bookseller Paula has lost a child, and a husband. Where will she find her happiness? Fiercely independent Judith thinks more of horses than men, but that doesn’t stop her looking for love online. Brida is a writer with no time to write, until she faces a choice between her work and her family. Abandoned by the ‘perfect’ man, Malika struggles for recognition from her parents. Her sister Jorinda, an actor is pregnant for a third time, but how can she provide for her family alone?
Love in Five Acts explores what is left to five women when they have fulfilled their roles as wives, mothers, friends, lovers, sisters, and daughters. As teenagers they experienced the fall of Berlin Wall, but freedom brings with it another form of pressure: the pressure of choice.
I won this book on Instagram earlier this year and liked its premise. Five chapters about five women whose lives are linked, these chapters could read as short stories but I really appreciated how the stories wove together. The stories are stark and raw, the women experiencing a range of life experiences, including love and loss, dating, friendship and family life. Told bluntly these women are daughters, mothers, wives but at the time of meeting them they all have relationships behind them and are revaluating what is to come. Sex plays a significant part and female sexuality is explored although not as a main theme but rather as a part of life. Love seems central, passionate love, married life and loves end, the impact of children on a relationship and the gender roles of men and women, particularly when parenthood happens all feature strongly. Ambition is a theme, with these women carving careers for themselves in a range of jobs and the challenges this can bring. Each woman felt authentic, her story real and I liked the unsentimental way in which their stories were told.
I am a big fan of short stories and the format of this book worked well for me; the links between the stories but also the individual lives of the women featured. Aspects of the book were in places hard to read – the sexual desires of others, the rejection of a child by parents, but for me throughout this was an interesting and absorbing read.
About the Author
Daniela Krien was born in 1975 in Mecklenburg – Vorpommern in the then G.D.R. Her first novel, Someday We’ll Tell Each Other Everything, was published in English in 2013 (MacLehose Press) and in fourteen other languages. For a subsequent volume of short stories, Muldental, she was awarded the Nicholas Born Prize. She lives in Leipzig with her two daughters.
Jamie Bulloch is the translator of novels by Timur Vermes, Steven Uhly, Martin Suter, Arno Geiger and Roland Schimmelpfennig, and of crime fiction by Romy Hausmann, Oliver Bottini and Peter Beck. For his translation of Birgit Vanderbeke’s The Mussel Feast he was the winner of the Schlegel – Tieck Prize.