Around 250 pages
The fallen woman novel. It is a common trope that we have seen from a number of talented authors, including Zola, Hardy, Tolstoy, and Flaubert. I'll admit I have enjoyed the stories, but it is getting old. Also, it is irritating, obviously, that they are always written by men, but that's another topic for a different day (how's tomorrow work for you?).
Effi Briest is a young woman who can't get over how young she is. In a letter she writes to her mother, she writes something along the lines of "oh, how young I am! I should still be in a nursery!" Would a teenage girl ever possess or express this thought? I knew as soon as the book began Fontane was going to make her swoon at some point...I wasn't disappointed. But back to the plot. Effi is married off to some old guy and...well, you can probably guess the rest.
I know that this isn't meant to be an attack on women, and Fontane is criticizing the oppressive circumstances that allow Effi's fate to happen. But I still felt like Fontane was of the opinion that the most interesting thing a woman can do is cheat on her husband. I didn't relate to Effi in the slightest. The only thing I could tell you about her is that she likes to stretch in between doing housework. Oh, and she is young, ever so young.
The Book underestimated the hardness of my heart, and thought I would be in tears over this novel. Actually, I predicted everything that would happen to poor Effi, and kept wishing Fontane would just get on with it.
So if you've ever found yourself thinking "I wish Madame Bovary was German..." this is the novel for you! Oh and if you have ever found yourself thinking that, please explain yourself in the comments weirdo.
Thomas Mann said that if one had to reduce one's library to six novels (why six? Who would make someone do such an awful, arbitrary thing?), Effi Briest would have to be one of them. Shut up, Thomas.
UP NEXT: The Time Machine by H.G. Wells. I've read this one already, so expect a review up shortly!