[NOTE: I received early access to this book through NetGalley in exchange for writing an impartial review. Thank you Macmillan Publishers.]
Originally published in 2017 in German (where it won the German Booksellers’ Favorite Book of the Year Award and became a bestseller), What You Can See From Here has now been skillfully translated into English by Tess Lewis, with a scheduled publication date of June 22, 2021. Awarded four stars on Goodreads.
What a completely delightful read!
While I find it hard to describe what exactly makes this novel so enjoyable, let me say that it feels like Mariana Leky’s style combines some of the best qualities of Jane Austen (hands down – my favorite author) with Fredrik Backman (A Man Called Ove and others). Like Austen, this is a study of small town life, where not much happens, but somehow everything ordinary people do everyday is full of drama. And like Backman (and Austen too), there is SO MUCH humor woven into the narrative. Almost as though the book is reminding us NOT to take our lives too seriously. This is a book where the author’s unique style enhances the story.
At the start of the book, the central protagonist, Luisa, and her best friend Martin are inseparable. Luisa’s parents do not give her the attention she deserves. Fortunately, her widowed grandmother Selma (whose dreams also predict the future) provides all the security and love Luisa could want.
There are other many other meaningful relationships — with the reclusive Marlies, the superstitious Elsbeth, the remote hunter (and Martin’s father) Palm, the ever attentive village optician Dietrich, the bookshop owner Mr. Rodder, even a psychotherapist Dr. Maschke. Later, a Buddhist monk named Frederik joins in.
As years pass, these characters support each other through tragedies, separations, secrets, attempted murder, and love affairs… always accepting each other’s quirks and foibles. So that the book becomes a lovely tale of how much we can all offer one another, when we don’t let personal judgements get in the way.
It’s a very enjoyable book, full of love, and I recommend it to everyone. And I look forward to reading more books by Mariana Leky.
More about the author, Mariana Leky.