Mann, Thomas. Buddenbrooks: the Decline of a Family. Translated by H.T. Lowe-Porter. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1931.

To sum up Buddenbrooks it is a four-generational story about the downfall of a middle class family. There is no storyline other than following the lives of the Buddenbrooks from 1835 to 1877. The Buddenbrooks are a typical family. They have their problems like everyone else. Faulty business deals, unstable health, failed marriages, partnerships made and broken. My favorite parts involved daughter Tony and her relationships with her family and the men who pursued her. The way her father simultaneously protects her and throws her to the wolves is eyebrow raising, but pretty typical of a father-know-best attitude. It is no secret that this saga doesn’t end well (just look at the title).

Quotes that struck a thought: “Hopes, fears, and ambitions all slumbered, while the rain fell and the autumn wind whistled around gables and street corners” (p 45), “She had never given him either great joy or great sorrow; but she had decorously played her part beside him for many a long year…” (p 68), and “Her face had the expression children wear when one tells them a fairy story about then tactlessly introduce a generalization about conduct and duty – a mixture of embarrassment and impatience, piety and boredom” (p 215).

Author Fact: Buddenbrookswas Mann’s first book, written when he was just 26 years old.

Book Trivia: An adaptation of Buddenbrooks was made into a movie in 2008.

BookLust Twist: From Book Lust in the chapter called “100 Good Reads, Decade by Decade” (p 175).

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