Image from sarahamina used under a Creative Commons license.
Siegfried Lenz, Stella (Other Press, 2009).
A simple and bittersweet novella, a coming-of-age story set on the coast of Germany in the 1960s. Seventeen-year-old Christian falls in love with his young English teacher, Stella. The story opens with Stella’s funeral, and yet its innocence is not lost and its tragedy does not seem ordained. N.B. — While the publisher and many reviewers place the setting on the Baltic coast, an early reference to a North Frisian island prompts me to think that the setting is rather Germany’s North Sea coast, in the area known as Frisia or the Heligoland Bight.
Here is Wikipedia’s entry on Lenz. The Complete Review says it is well crafted, if too obviously so, but isn’t all that moving. David Vickrey says Lenz tells an old story with such grace and control that it seems new, just as the world seems made anew in the eyes of young lovers. Boyd Tonkin (The Independent) calls it a tenderly evocative sense of place, mood and era, and thanks Anthea Bell for “a flawless translation which captures a prose that shifts in nuance as often as the North Sea winds and currents that run through the story.” It didn’t rock Katy Derbyshire’s boat. According to beer good, it has a tone that reminds one of the Skagen painters; the wide open sky, the false nostalgia of easy life in a place where most people have to work hard for everything, the hazy North Sea light.