The Post-Office Girl | Stefan Zweig

novel | german | literature

Published posthumously in 1982

A copy of The Post-Office Girl by Stefna Zweig lying on a wooden floor

Christine Hoflehner is The Post-Office Girl in Zweig's novel set in post-World War I Austria. Her wealthy aunts interrupts Christine's mundane and dull existence by inviting her to the Swiss Alps for a holiday. The wealth of the people at the mountain resort is in such contrast to Christine's life working in the village Post Office and caring for her sick mother, that she almost goes mad, especially when her "lower class" background is revealed and she is forced to return home.

Christine visits her sister in Vienna and meets ex-soldier and frustrated architect, Ferdinand. Like Christine, Ferdinand is another of the many ruined souls left behind and forgotten in the wake of the war. They want to fall in love, but know deep down that for people like them, there is no hope left. They make a plan to commit suicide together, but change their minds at the last moment and instead decide to rob the post office where Christine is employed. They hope to create new lives for themselves somewhere else.

My Verdict: Stefan Zweig, an often forgotten writer in the English language world of literature, is the master of describing the world coming to and end. The downward descent into tragedy is typical of his style and one of the many, many reasons why I love him. He creates the feeling of clautrophobia that poverty creates in people, taking away all hope and choice. This was an incredibly sad book, which we know (with hindsight) was only the beginning of the sadness that was to come.

Review Award | 4/5

Posted 05.12.2023

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