Homecoming - Bernhard Schlink

AS a child raised by his mother in post-war Germany, Peter Debauer becomes fascinated by a story he discovers in the proof pages of a novel edited by his grandparents. It is the tale of a German prisoner of war who escapes from a Russian camp and braves

AS a child raised by his mother in post-war Germany, Peter Debauer becomes fascinated by a story he discovers in the proof pages of a novel edited by his grandparents.

It is the tale of a German prisoner of war who escapes from a Russian camp and braves countless dangers to return home to a wife who believes him to be dead.

But the novel is incomplete and Peter becomes obsessed by the question of what happened when the soldier and his wife met again.

Years later, the adult Peter remembers the novel and embarks on a search for the missing pages that soon becomes a search for his own father, a soldier whom he always believed was killed in the war.

Homecoming (�7.99, Orion) is Bernhard Schlink's follow-up to his hugely successful The Reader, the film version of which recently won an Oscar.

It draws heavily on Homer's ancient Greek epic, The Odyssey - both in the incomplete novel's parallels and in Peter's own search for his roots.

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Elegantly written, it is thought-provoking, repeatedly raising philosophical questions about justice. But the strange scenes at the retreat Peter goes to in a bid to get to know his father better, do not seem to fit well with the rest of the novel. And ultimately there is nothing to make the book particularly memorable.

- LINDSAY JONES