QUICK REVIEW: The Emperor Waltz

the-emperor-waltzThe Emperor Waltz

Philip Henscher

Jonathan Ball

ISBN: 9780007566747

REVIEW BY: Karin Schimke

I was not one the thousands of people who loved David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas. I found the radical introduction of numerous new story lines about new characters in vastly different times and places too disturbing to the pace and to my concentration.

Henscher does the same, but this time I moved more fluidly in this changing river of narrative. The author shifts styles to accommodate the various storylines, displaying an impressive range. Some stories work better than others (Germany in the 1920s and London in the late seventies), while some – or some parts of even the good parts – felt a little too random and slightly self-conscious.

If you can overlook the book’s short-story feel and give it its novelistic dues, you’ll find it an expansive and accommodating novel that sweeps readers along, keeping them on their toes as they link images and themes in the disparate stories.

  • This review first appeared in the Cape Times in October 2014.

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