Erika Mustermann* by Bettina Peters
Published by Eden Books on September 12, 2016
We all have heard of her: Erika Mustermann. But who is this mysterious woman, which stands for the German woman par excellence? In this book, she tells her story. A story which is anything but ordinary. Midlife-crisis, a garden gnome and no control. This wonderful fictitious autobiography lets you laugh tears and shows you how we Germans – according to the statistics – really tick.
This is a book you can read easily in-between. And you will be surprised how much of what this story tells you, sounds very familiar.
Guess, in English, this book would be titled: Erika Mustermann – The Secret Life Of The Known Average German – and that sums it up perfectly.
Erika is from the day she was born the perfect model child. Doing what Mom told her to, keeping everything and anything in order, never loud, never doing something wrong etc. etc. Short said: boring and colorless. But her face seems to be recognized by everyone. No matter where she goes, people tell her that they know her that she is Sonja, Susanne or Katja from god knows where. For 45 years no problem at all for Erika; until that day where an unsuspecting mailman and his witty comment about her perfectly cut and weed free lawn let her explode. Literally. Garden gnomes fly through the air, she yanks down her beautiful blooming roses with a rake and finds herself within no time eye to eye with a judge, ordered to seek help!
Written from Erika´s first-person perspective this wonderfully written story gives you the perfect impression of what the Germans love most: statistics. But not in a dry or boring way but with a winking eye.
Bettina Peters writing style is open, ironic, cynical, sometimes very sarcastic and direct. But always with the right amount of charm, to make even the driest facts sound hilarious. And yes, some things sound very, very familiar during others you kind of think oh common, that can´t be that bad!
Okay, I admit, I didn´t laugh tears as the summary told me I would, but I had really fun reading this beautiful, charming story and to see how Erika finally gets her own love story. And I am not talking about her cat.
The perfect model family, a mother who does everything to proof that the statistics can´t be that wrong and two kids which couldn´t be more opposing. Yes, life in the early seventies was not easy, especially when you had to think of what the neighbors might think of you if you don´t have the perfect mown lawn, the perfect kids, the perfect marriage …
Erika is easy to handle from the very first labor her mother had to go through. Within no time she was born, unlike her elder sister, and from that day on forward she was taught how to keep everything neat and clean and that lists save you at least ninety percent of your time. Oh yes, she is the model daughter other mothers would love to have if that wouldn´t be as boring and annoying as whatever. The moment the new workmate arrives at her office, Erika starts to change and see things from a different perspective. And the boring and annoying became enterprising, relaxed and a lot more.
Okay, the cover is not really my thing, but it kind of seems appropriate. And it shows things that are part of the story. And sometimes you simply can´t judge a book by its cover – and this is the case here. So if you are able to read a German book and want to just lay back and relax, turning off your head, this is your book.
*This title was at the time of review only available in the German language.