This is my second year participating in Lizzy’s and Caroline’s German Literature month. I’m doubly excited this year since not only did I read an interesting novel, but I won the novel in a giveaway that Lizzy and Caroline hosted. Winning a book is such a great thing. First I received the email that I won. Then I forgot about it until the post delivered it. I felt the excitement all over again.
Mesmerized by Alissa Walser is a novel based on Dr. Franz Anton Mesmer and his process of curing patients through the use of animal magnetism. Set in Mozart’s Vienna, scientific discoveries popped up every day. Mesmer believes he is the next big thing when it comes to medical breakthroughs. He wants to garner attention from the imperial court. When the blind daughter of one of the court’s secretaries arrives at his hospital for treatment, Mesmer senses his chance. The young woman, who is also a musical sensation, is sponsored by the Empress herself. If Mesmer can cure her, then surely he would be the talk of Vienna. As it turns out, he does become the talk of the town, but not to his liking. People question his methods, his successes, and his closeness to his patients, especially with the young daughter.
This is Walser’s first novel, and she won the Spycher Literaturpresis in 2010. At first I found her writing style jarring. There are many short sentences, and the author switches viewpoints frequently. A couple of chapters in and I convinced myself that I wouldn’t like the novel.
Then I settled into her style. That’s when Walser sucked me into the story. Her novel put a spell on me and I couldn’t put it down. Her words and descriptions are subtle. Sometimes when I read a writer’s first novel I get annoyed with their attempt of proving their worthiness. I didn’t feel that from Walser. She didn’t come across as someone with a mission to be noticed. She’s a storyteller, plain and simple. I admire her skill.
This novel also fulfills my Award Winning books challenge.