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Book 16 of 80

March 4, 2010

When I was a little girl, I was in an Austrian wedding. My aunt Lori married a guy from Austria — my flower-girl costume was pretty darn cute. And then, during the prayer, I twirled my basket, filled with fresh flowers…with water in the bottom. I soaked my dress, the floor underneath me, and I stood there mortified until my mom grabbed my hand and led me down to sit next to her. Matt and I didn’t have any children in our wedding…but one thing is certain: They are the best part of every wedding I have ever attended. 

My aunt Lori didn’t stay married to her Austrian husband – he turned out to be a drunk and a mean one at that. I do blame the guy for being a jerk to my aunt, but what do you expect from the country that brought us Hitler?

Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

Austria also brought us the von Trapp family singers!! So, there you go. For every Hitler there are cute singing families escaping Hitler. 

Throw in some Franz Ferdinand (the archduke, not the band), some Mozart, some Gregor Mendel (thanks to Paul for that one), along with basic geography, and — who could forget — the governor of California Mr. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Well, that’s all I can conjure up knowing about Austria. 

So, have you figured out yet that my next book is in Austria? It’s called The Post-Office Girl by Stefan Zweig. Zweig is one of the most famous and lauded Austrian writers of all time. He is mostly unknown in the English-speaking/Western world. This particular book was published posthumously (I’m really going to have to do a stat sheet at the end of this journey to tally up random facts like this. I think this is my third or fourth book in this challenge that was published after the author passed away) and most critics believe that it was also (like The Trial) left unfinished.

It was recently translated into English (2008). And, according to my usual sources, it seems to be a depressing account of a girl in Austria post-World-War-I. In the aftermath of the Great War, a young woman is left in poverty and she works at, alright not too hard here, the post-office. She gets a taste of a luxurious life via her aunt who invites her to spend some time in the Swiss Alps. However, she is ultimately thrown back into her old life and then she meets a man — their relationship and the decisions they make will be “either be their salvation or their doom” (says the book blurb). 

The book is widely praised and it was recommended to me. Austria, here I come!

(For those of you who are curious: I have 7 (including this one) books left in Europe. I think the next three have some connection to war…then when I get to the Netherlands that changes. A co-worker recommended a book from Denmark, but I don’t know if I will fit it in there or not. Either way, we will make it to Africa in April.)

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