The one thing I can say about my 7 years in Hesse is that they were not reading years. Released from the rigours of study, single with disposable income, the first of these were quite carefree casting aside inevitable romantic woes. Marriage and motherhood did follow eventually as well as a career. As you can see I had preoccupations other than literature in my twenties! I wasn’t even that impressed with the Frankfurt Book Fair. It was totally trade-oriented back then and I only went once in all those years. There’s much more for the public to enjoy now. Here are some notes from my visit in 2016. Note 1, Note 2
The photo albums from what I now refer to as my socialising years are filled with people, some of whom became lifelong friends. The 1980s were pre-smartphone days, so no quick shots of impressive views or sights as you were just passing by. My touristy photos of Frankfurt and environs were all taken after I had moved away!
Frankfurt am Main’s most famous literary son, is that giant of German Literature, J W von Goethe. He wrote The Sufferings of Young Werther here. The psychiatrist, Heinrich Hoffmann was also born in Frankfurt am Main. His literary claim to fame is the grisly Struwelpeter, tales aimed at 3 to 6 year olds. Marketed as “”funny stories and comical pictures”, I’d love to be a fly on the wall during a conversation between Hoffmann and modern-day psychiatrists!
My son was born in Hanau, a small town which hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons in February this year. On a happier note, it was also the birth town of the Brothers Grimm. From Hanau you can travel north on the famous Fairy Tale Route, which takes you into the area from which many of the Grimm’s fairy tales originated. This area north of Kassel is completely different to the metropolis of Frankfurt. I think it was the Reinhartswald that sowed the seeds of my passion for woods and forests. Although you do meet some very strange characters round and about …
Favourite reads from or about Hesse
Münster-born author Nele Neuhaus comes from Northrhine-Westphalia but her Bodenstein & Kirchoff crime series is set in the Taunus. Her crime breakthrough was the brilliantly entitled Snow White Must Die.
Charlotte Link (born Frankfurt am Main) writes psychological thrillers. Her harrowing The Other Child takes us to an authentic UK during WWII.
I reviewed both novels here.
One of the clichés in life is that you frequently don’t pay much attention to the history of the place you live in. And so it was that Annette Hess’s novel The German House was the first inkling I had of the Nazi War Trials held in Frankfurt am Main in 1963.