The Vision of Emma Blau by Ursula Hegi: Book Review

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Cover of The Vision of Emma Blau by Ursula Hegi

3 Stars

Stefan Blau runs away from his home in Germany when he is a young man. He’s always dreamed of living in America. He eventually finds himself in New Hampshire, building a beautiful apartment building, running a restaurant, and doing his best to provide for his family.

Honestly, this book might have suffered from too many interruptions. My review is definitely suffering from allowing too much time to go by between finishing the book and reviewing it.

I mostly enjoyed this, my problem was that I felt a little too distanced from the characters. An immigrant acclimating to America, German-Americans living through WWII, love, loss, family, strange neighbors–any of these should have made a book that I loved. The third-person narration felt so very distant from the action though that I just couldn’t click with anyone. Also, this family is just desperately unhappy. The narration changes from Stefan to Helene to Robert to Emma and not one of them is happy. I just can’t take that.

The meaning of the title just dawned on me. I was understanding it as “Emma Blau’s Vision,” and it has a little to do with that, but mostly it’s about “Stefan’s Vision of Emma.” If that had clicked earlier, I might have gotten a little more out of this. I kept waiting for Emma to show up and she didn’t make her appearance until page 268. That’s a lot of waiting.

Once Emma did appear, she was actually my least favorite character. She’s so very pushy and clingy, I felt a little smothered just reading about her. As an adult, she makes horrible choices in her life and doesn’t really understand why she’s unhappy. She’s terrified of change and fights it however she can. She’s one character in a line that takes care of the inheritance of the apartment house in a less-than-optimal way.

I honestly feel like there was a deeper meaning to this book that I just didn’t understand. Without that, I just feel lost writing this review, so I’m just going to stop here.

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  1. It does make me curious as to why they're all so unhappy. But I'm not entirely sure I want to read a book that's so distant from the characters. I need a good connection with them. Hmm… And the fact that you were unable to finish the review doesn't make the book too apealing. *sigh* Shame. The title and cover caught my eye. Oh well.

  2. Thanks for sharing this! The description looks interesting, but maybe the book itself was a bit bland if you could not finish the review, or maybe too abstract in some sense. I have read this kind of books and they're a torment, to be honest.;)

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