There seems to be a trend I'm following this year of 'read the book first'. It's a bit of a problem, sorry not sorry. But I love a good thriller, and mystery, a why vs a who, if you will. This month I jumped into Petra Hummasfahr's The Sinner, which is now been renewed for a second season, starring Jessica Biel.
This book is filled with a deep routed psychological mind bender (no pun intended) question of WHY? Cora Bender just murdered a stranger, with a pairing knife, in the middle of the afternoon at a crowded beach. She is now being held in custody while questioned. What on earth would make this sweet, kind, soft-spoken young wife and mother do such a crazy thing?
Cora, a pathological liar from way back has a troubled and ultimately secret past that she has been running from for years. The plot of the book is focused mainly around unearthing the truth, through the incessant stream of lies that Cora spews, sometimes methodically, and other times sub-consciously, to her interrogators and lawyer.
Cora is untrustworthy, which makes a tricky read for any self-proclaimed detective (I swear, I always see an ending coming), distrustful narrators create a challenge in being able to identify a protagonist. It’s a biased and loaded question when dealing with a character like Cora Bender. The book flows between past and present, lies and truths, and bleeds together until you’re unsure which is “fact” and which is fiction.
But once you get to the meat of book, you start to understand Cora’s twisted views because of psychological trauma she has had to endure. It’s quite fascinating, actually. The human brain will go to no ends to protect itself, even if that includes creating an entirely made up version of reality.
When you do find out what happened, you’re going to be shocked. The truth — while yes, EXTREMELY disturbing — isn’t at all what you think. Though the author tries to fool you, you THINK you know what happened, but you’ll be quite shocked at the ending. At least I was.
I highly recommend this book for a book club though, as it is definitely one that will keep you talking and raising questions. Below, I’ve provided you with some discussion prompts for your own book clubs, or even yourself!
*******SPOLER ALERTS START NOW!!!!*******
Like many great thrillers, this novel has been translated from it’s original German. Do you feel that there is a sort of language barrier that presents itself through the translation at times?
There is a distinct correlation between beauty and evil in this book. This is a major theme throughout the bible as well, temptation through lust. Magdelena is presented as beautiful as God making up for her health, do you think though it is intended by Hammesfahr to be the other way around. Both girls are beautiful, but both are manipulative, one more so than the other.
What do you think of the implied, and presented, incestuous relationship between Cora and her father. Her father, Willhem is forgiven for his actions because of his “needs”, this is a very relevant topic in 2018.
We are left initially feeling as though Cora is getting better, however, the final note of her suicidal thoughts at the end make you second guess this. Did you expect this? Do you think it is still a peaceful ending in the way she considers going about her suicide?
As always, don’t forget to tag #HFSFallReads2018 and comment below on your thoughts.