I think if you read a brief summary of this story, you might come to the conclusion that you’d forego wanting to read it, thinking it too simple, or too bland...labeling it as one of those sentimental stories you could easily watch on TCM. Yet in Zweig’s capable hands, this journey into the past seems a personal one and because of this, this simple story, plainly told transforms into something that is truly special. The story is beautifully rendered, telling a tale that is true to life. Love is often times portrayed as something entirely beautiful—all flowers and roses. Yet, love could also be viewed as something selfish, especially when considering circumstances, situation, and time. In this story, Zweig constructs an excellent balance. The love shared by the two main characters is something beautiful and lustrous, yet it becomes almost too brilliant, a love in danger of becoming all consuming. It’s very real.
Because this is a novella, each sentence is significant, and words are never wasted. Ludwig’s progression of thoughts and reflections depict genuine emotion and feeling, seamlessly linking the past with the present through a constant natural flow, that never becomes overly psychological. As well, the images Zweig creates through Ludwig’s eyes—the plays of light and dark evoking past and present—are masterfully done. This is truly an excellent book.