18 July, 2016


Title: A Time To Love And A Time To Die
Author: Erich Maria Remarque
Series: -
Genres: Historical fiction
Publisher: Brace and Companyh 
Source: Hardcover 
Pages: 379

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From the quintessential author of wartime Germany, A Time to Love and a Time to Die echoes the harrowing insights of his masterpiece All Quiet on the Western Front.

After two years at the Russian front, Ernst Graeber finally receives three weeks’ leave. But since leaves have been canceled before, he decides not to write his parents, fearing he would just raise their hopes.

Then, when Graeber arrives home, he finds his house bombed to ruin and his parents nowhere in sight. Nobody knows if they are dead or alive. As his leave draws to a close, Graeber reaches out to Elisabeth, a childhood friend. Like him, she is imprisoned in a world she did not create. But in a time of war, love seems a world away. And sometimes, temporary comfort can lead to something unexpected and redeeming.

“The world has a great writer in Erich Maria Remarque. He is a craftsman of unquestionably first rank, a man who can bend language to his will. Whether he writes of men or of inanimate nature, his touch is sensitive, firm, and sure.”—The New York Times Book Review

 My former roommate used to read like crazy and she suggested that I give this book a try, so actually going into it I had no expectation or knowledge of what it was about or how it would affect me. But I will forever be grateful to her for introducing me to this wonderful writer because this book became one of my most beloved and favorite books of all time! And I really would love to own a beautiful cover copy if I could find one, but not lock yet! But enough about that, let me introduce you to one of the most beautiful, sad, and heartbreaking stories of all time.

THE WORLD: The plot takes place in two main locations  - Russia and Germany during the end of World War II, so basically we have what we usually know about the war. Hunger, death, horror and a lot of unnecessary victims.

CHARACTERS: Now there are a number of speaking characters in this book, that have a line or two but I will exclude just six characters because I believe they are the ones who represented how the world was divided during the war.

So we have the main character Ernst Graeber, a German soldier, only a little over twenty years old. When we meet him he is stationed in Russia and he and his troops are given a mission to kill few rebel Russian civilians. Let me tell you from the moment you meet Ernst you fall in love with him! Well I did! You know how much issue he has to continue killing innocent people who are just trying to protect their home and you understand how difficult it must have been for people who realized that such things are done without a cause. We also see how terrified he is to see his home destroyed when he gets back to Germany on his two week leave, how he is in shock that his childhood home is gone and how he slowly accepts that he will never see his parents again. I have to be honest, reading the passages where he looks for his parents just made me cry so much.

While in search of his parents he meets Elizabeth Kruse, the daughter of his doctor when he was child or something like that, I don't remember clearly how he knows the doctor. Elizabeth is a strong girl, also just over twenty or even nineteen actually, she is just a true survivor. Not once in the entire book I got annoyed or anything, she had exceptional strength. Even then her home was burning down and Ernst tried to save as much as he could she just stopped him saying something like  'I'll always have memories' or something like that.Anyway, she too is trying to reach and save her father because was taken to a lager and is being held there as a prisoner. So the two meet and try to stay alive as much as they can while they slowly fall in love.

I would also like to exclude Professor Pohlmann, Ernst old teacher two hides Jewish people in his home. He just had so many good lines in the book, you know that one character that gives the main character tips on how to live and not how to become or let anyone make you into something else? Yup well that was Professor Pohlmann. At his home we also meet Joseph, a Jewish man who is afraid of Ernst at first but they eventually share a deep conversation and you get to see that Joseph too had a bright future but now understands that there is nothing for him anymore.

I also want to talk about two soldiers from Ernst unit - Hirschland and Steinbrenner. They were the complete oppose of how the war affected men who had to go and fight for no reason. While Steinbrenner represented the soldiers who raped, killed and destroyed everything in their way in the name of their country and leaders, Hirchland represented the ones who understood that this war will never be won and he actually commits suicide because he just cannot live with himself knowing what he was forced to do.

As I said there are other very good characters in the book, but these were the ones that remained with me.

LOVE: The main love focus in this book is between Ernst and Elizabeth. As mentioned before they fall in love in the middle of chaos, in the middle of world ending and I have to say their love brought me so much tears I literally had to put the book down to cry. Even going on a date was horrible because bombs were falling down, people were being shot and killed next to them, but it still made me feel so full of hope because even during such a horrible time something so innocent like love blossomed. True love didn't fear any war and I mean you could truly understand how they loved each other.

Now if you think you will ever read this book DO NOT continue reading below and jump to the next point, if however you think you will not read it please continue because I want to talk about a very specific scene that broke me heart:


So our two main leads actually do get married in the book, because Elizabeth loses her job and the government takes good care of army wives, so to make sure that she would have money and a roof over her head he offers to marry her (he is just the best right?). So after they get married, we actually understand that they have only two weeks together and within those two weeks they share, what it seems, a life time together. I like a particular scene when Ernst says something like 'If I knew this wasn't bombs blowing it would be actually beautiful'. You really see how these two people love each other by the way they take care of each other. But actually this is not a happy ending love story. Ernst does leave back to the war and the scene where they say goodbye....guys...it ruined me! I couldn't stop crying, literally! So he goes back by train and they make a deal that Elizabeth won't come to the train station to say goodbye because it would be too hard for both of them, they say goodbye at he room they rent and he leaves. But when he is finally in the train he sees how thousands of people are saying goodbyes and he secretly wishes she would be here too and the moment the train starts to move he sees that she did come, he shouts and waves to her but it's too late and she doesn't see him, and he rides off without them ever meeting again! You guys, this broke my heart, my soul, my every emotion I had! I literally cried the entire night. This was so beautiful and so sad I couldn't deal with it. I couldn't continue reading it for few days after this.

PLUS: I liked that this book didn't put labels. It didn't say that Germans were bad, or Russians were bad no. It made a point that people suffered everywhere, that just because Germany started the war it's people suffered as much as the entire world did.

MINUS: Maybe the only thing I didn't like was how much everyone in this book were drinking. Almost every scene had alcohol in it, but perhaps I understand this. I believe the author just wanted to show that reality was too much to handle so people had to forget it somehow.

OVERALL: As I said this is one of my favorite book of all time. I truly believe that every single person should read this or any book by Remarque. They are beautiful, realistic and stays with you for a long time. I also believe this would make a most wonderful movie. Simply beautiful book!


What did you think of  A TIME TO LIVE AND A TIME TO DIE?