Book Reviews

‘The best moments in reading are when you come across something - a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things - which you had thought special and particular to you. And now, here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead. And it is as if a hand has come out, and taken yours.’ Alan Bennett

“Many a book is like a key to unknown chambers within the castle of one’s own self.” ― Franz Kafka

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Every Seventh Wave - Daniel Glattauer

Translated from the German by Katharina Bielenberg and Jamie Bulloch

‘A wave that broke free, changing everything, recreating the landscape, leaving nothing the same as before.’

Every Seventh Wave is the sequel to the novel Love Virtually. (You can read my review of Love Virtually here.) Readers of that first installment will know that we were left wondering what would happen with Emmi and Leo, our two protagonists, at the end of that book. Now is our chance to discover what happens next...

It’s quite difficult to say a lot about this follow-up without including any spoilers, so I will try and be very careful in my review, but if it seems quite short, it may be because I needed to avoid mentioning much of the story. 

Once again Emmi and Leo are corresponding with each other via email. (Although readers were left uncertain at the end of the first book as to whether they would be in contact again, I think it’s fair to say that if you’ve gotten as far as thinking about reading the second book, it’s not too much of a spoiler to say that they do start to communicate again – otherwise there wouldn’t really be a second book!) What is for the reader to discover though, and not for me to reveal here, is how this romantic correspondence develops, and whether anything else will happen between the pair - will their love ever transcend the boundaries of email and become the real thing? After all, as Leo tells Emmi; ‘I’m sorry to say that happiness is not made of emails.’

The format of the novel, written totally in emails just like the first book, is a very effective idea and it is very well executed by the author. The exchanges are very often short and fast, the conversation zipping back and forth; this makes for quick and dramatic reading.

Without seeing each other’s faces, there is always room for misinterpretation and doubt; there’s a risk that one turn of phrase or sentence that is perhaps not quite clear in meaning could be misconstrued and thereby damage the bond that they share. The words in the emails that Emmi and Leo exchange enable a strong impression of each of the two characters to form in the reader’s mind.

The storyline builds with tension and uncertainty, and kept me turning the pages. At times I was frustrated by the behaviour of Emmi in particular, and I think I warmed more to Leo and empathised with him. They are both flawed in their own ways and this makes them all the more believable. This sequel sees Emmi and Leo discussing aspects of their separate lives, including each other’s current partner, and wondering if there will ever be a real life, away from the relative safety of hiding behind the computer screen, that will involve the two of them being together.

I loved revisiting these two characters, and reading their exchanges once again; they are at times very witty and funny, at other times full of anxiety and uncertainty, and sometimes so beautiful and passionate, but always with that very strong emotional connection between them. I felt by turns sad, delighted, anxious, frustrated and more by the two of them as I read.

The author has created two characters with a strong dynamic between them that makes for compelling reading. The way the idea of what happens with 'every seventh wave' is incorporated into the storyline is lyrical and apt. A word on the translation; it is beautifully done, I couldn’t fault it.

If you read and enjoyed Love Virtually, I would definitely recommend reading Every Seventh Wave and continuing the journey alongside Emmi and Leo.

Published by Maclehose

The story is being read on BBC Radio 4 on February 14th 2013 by David Tennant and Emilia Fox - click here to find out more.

Thanks very much to the publisher for kindly sending a copy of this novel for review. 

You can follow the twitter account for Love Virtually @LoveVirtually

Read as part of the 2013 Translation Challenge


  1. I think I will need to add Love Virtually onto my list for this year.

  2. Lins, I love that I get to read about different books on your blog. Fab review x

  3. I quite understand that you couldn't say too much but I'm delighted to know you enjoyed this one. I have it on order in the library - first in the queue - and I'm hoping it comes in time for me to read it before the radio adaptation on the 14th.

  4. Lindsay, thanks for linking up with Books You Loved. Cheers


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