Review: Someday We’ll Tell Each Other Everything by Daniela Krien

My Review:
SomedayMy tour of post-Soviet literature continues with a book that describes the last few months of life in the German Democrat Republic (G.D.R.).  The story is told from the point of view of Maria, a seventeen year old girl who is trying to find her way in the world while living through some very tough circumstances.  This book has three important aspects to explore, the first and foremost of which is a coming-of-age storyline.  Maria is on the cusp on adulthood and has never had much guidance or supervision in her life.  She has never known her father very well because he keeps leaving on trips to Russia throughout her childhood.  She finds out that this distant father is about to marry a Russian woman that is Maria’s own age.

Maria’s mother is not someone she can rely on because of her constant sadness and depression that is the result of her failed marriage. Maria doesn’t hesitate to leave her mother’s home when she is given the chance to live with her boyfriend Johannes and his family on their farm.  For the first time in her life Maria feels at home on the family farm; as she begins to help with the cooking and the daily chores on the farm her life suddenly has meaning and value and she is genuinely happy.

The next aspect of the book, which is arguably the most interesting,  is the intense love story.  But it is not a love story between Maria and her boyfriend Johannes.  There is a man named Henner, a loner with a reputation for excessing drinking who lives on the farm next door, that attracts Maria’s attention.  Henner is enigmatic and handsome and although he is twice her age, Maria is inexplicably drawn to him.  Their love affair is passionate and intense and Henner is even rough when he makes love to Maria.

But Henner also has a tender side and as they spend time together he slowly reveals his story and his personality to Maria.  Maria knows that what she feels for Henner is true love and she is living a double life.  Maria has a much deeper and more mature connection with Henner despite their differences in age.  She is torn apart trying to decide whether or not she should leave the comfort and safety of Johannes, his family and their farm in order to try to make a real life with Henner.  Living with Henner as his lover will surely shock the whole town and Maria will be shunned for it.

Finally, this story is about a very interesting time period in German history as the G.D.R. falls and the country is once again reunited.  The contrast between east and west in the novel is stark.  Johannes has an uncle who, as a young man twenty years earlier, managed to escape to the west and get an education and work as an engineer.  When the uncle comes to visit Maria feels frumpy and backwards compared to the uncle and his western-born and sophisticated wife.  Maria is excited but also nervous about the anticipation of being able to experience all of the exotic things that the west has to offer.

This book is an intense and quick read that I highly recommend.  This was actually the first book I read from Maclehose Press and I look forward exploring more of their catalog.

About the Author:
Daniela Krien was born in 1975 in what was then East Germany and lives in Leipzig, where she is an editor and scriptwriter for Amadelio Film. Someday We’ll Tell Each Other Everything is her first novel.


Filed under German Literature, Historical Fiction

9 responses to “Review: Someday We’ll Tell Each Other Everything by Daniela Krien

  1. I just read this book 2 months ago; I liked it as well. For me, the most interesting aspect was the contrast between East and West Germany from an East German perspective. I didn’t find the love story quite as engaging (although the end was quite something!).

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Well worth keeping in touch with Maclehose Press’ output as they publish many great books. Like you, I’m attracted to the time period, but the story sounds a little cliched – presumably that’s not how it reads?

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Great review, Melissa. I think you’ve really captured the different themes in this novel. (It was one of my reads for a previous German Lit Month.)


  4. Sounds intersting, I’m noting down the title because I feel this era/region follows on really well from my Russian Reading challenge last year. Looking forward to following more of your post-Soviet lit tour!


  5. Lovely review, Melissa. I have a fascination with the way in which the events of 1989 affected both sides of the German divide and thought this novel explored that beautifully. I hope you will enjoy finding your way around the Maclehose Press list – it’s certainly an interesting one.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thanks for your review. Just finished reading the novel — read it in German. The constant and colloquial “der Henner” and “die Frieda” got on my nerves a little, but overall I thought it was a compelling story. She’s a good story teller. On Amazon reviews some readers, German reviewers among them, dismiss this as soft porn. I didn’t think so. Krien does describe some of their sexual interaction but only insofar as it suggests or reveals elements of their relationship. She certainly could have described more if she had wanted to be salacious.

    It’s interesting but I don’t think a story like this would have been as compelling twenty or thirty years ago. Their age difference (especially her being 16) and the relatively recent sensitivity to questions surrounding consent make for, probably, uncomfortable reading in a way that wouldn’t have been as prominent before the “me too” movement. I thought Krien handled Maria’s combination of teenaged immaturity, self-delusion, and genuine feelings of love for Henner (though some might question that) quite well. The reader is aware that Maria isn’t a wholly reliable narrator and that’s to Krien’s credit.

    Spoiler Alert!

    Henner’s death was a surprise but anticipated by Krien. One gets the sense that Henner took his own life for Maria’s benefit—and yet. There was a rush of biographical background concerning “who Henner was” in the last couple chapters of the book; and that’s because Krien, up until that point, hadn’t done much to define Henner. He was just an ill-defined and potentially menacing figure. If there’s a flaw, it’s that Krien waited too long, in such a short novel, to define him. And that makes his suicide, if that’s what it was, seem somewhat anticlimactic and strangely inconsequential. This also makes the book feel like the first third of a much longer novel. I found myself thinking that the real interest is in what happened to Maria afterward and in Leipzig. I can’t see her spending her life with Johannes. The city life doesn’t seem as compelling to Maria, but I would also imagine that her life at the Hof is something she wants to put behind her—too many associations.

    One observation on an old post 🙂 : “for excessing drinking” should read excessive. I’m still correcting typos even on my oldest posts…

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s