This exquisite book about a simple life in the Austrian Alps is a new favourite. There aren’t many books that make me want to savour every line, not only to enjoy the spare, powerful prose, but to ensure I didn’t get to the end too quickly!
At only 150 pages long, this exploration of Andreas Egger’s life in his mountain home examines the important moments, big or small, that make up a life, expressed through wonderful observations such as these:
“Then he would think about his future, which extended infinitely before him precisely because he expected nothing of it. And sometimes if he lay there long enough, he had the impression that beneath his back the earth was softly rising and falling, and in moments like these he knew that the mountains breathed.”
We learn about Andreas’ childhood, his working life, who he falls in love with, and his unique relationship with the landscape that surrounds him. There is a simple, natural rhythm to the prose that to me, enhances the descriptions of the mountains and his way of life. I love these lines:
“Up here the ground was soft and the grass short and dark. Drops of water trembled on the tips of the blades, making the whole meadow glitter as if studded with glass beads. Egger marvelled at these tiny, trembling drops that clung so tenaciously to the blades of grass, only to fall at last and seep into the earth or dissolve to nothing in the air.”
I read it while on holiday in the Alps and it made me see the landscape in a whole new way – one not to be simply visited, but to be lived in, to be a part of. I couldn’t put it down.