This was an exceptionally difficult book to read, largely because of the author's habit of not clearly introducing characters, relationships or events, but leaving the reader somehow to devine what is going on. The writing is highly stylised, and the dialogue is opaque.
The setting, newly united Germany in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, is potentially an interesting one, and students of that period would probably understand a great deal more of the subtext than I did. Clearly the roots of both World Wars are under scrutiny here, but they are buried so deep under the pretentious style of writing that it is hard to dig them out.
The characters are so lightly sketched as to be transparent, and their feelings and motives impossible to discern most of the time. The story hinges on a number of significant marriages, but we never truly understand why the characters undertake them, especially when some of them seem spectacularly unsuited.
There is a good story lurking within this book, but the writing style does not do it justice.