Monday, November 10, 2014
Review of The Spring of Kasper Meier by Ben Fergusson (Little, Brown, 2014)
The strength of The Spring of Kasper Meier is the post-war desolate atmosphere of Berlin, the sense of place, and the details concerning how ordinary people seek to survive amongst the rubble on meagre rations. Kasper Meier is interesting character, complex, brusque, tough, yet compassionate, who has long lived a secret life, managing to survive in Nazi Germany. Eva is more open and friendly, a little naive, but with an edge hardened survivor mentality. Their somewhat awkward relationship is nicely portrayed. The plot, centring round find a British pilot and supposed revenge killings is an interesting idea, but its telling is not always convincing and often a little drawn out. The plot hinges on a threat of blackmail that, for me at least, didn’t seem strong enough and the fear exerted by two omnipresent twelve year old twins that did not feel credible, regardless of how feral they’re portrayed. And for someone who has managed to survive, specialises in sourcing information and trading on the black market, and possesses a gun and physical strength, Meier doesn’t always act in line with personality and circumstance. The result was the story felt a little uneven and contrived at times. Overall then, an engaging and atmospheric, but sometimes patchy, story of survival and struggle in the ruins of Berlin.