Book review: ‘Ariadne's Thread’ by Philippa Comber

‘Ariadne's Thread’ by Philippa Comber

Ariadne’s Thread describes Philippa Comber’s long-term friendship with the UK-based German author W.G. Sebald.

True to its Sebaldian theme, this is an entertaining, enigmatic book. Like his character Austerlitz, Sebald keeps popping up as if from nowhere—yet, by the end of the book, our mysterious hero seems as mysterious as ever.

The book is very well written, and Sebald comes across as pretty much how I imagined him. It was particularly interesting to read how Comber seems to have influenced some of Sebald’s research into topics familiar from his books. But I did wonder how much Comber left out. There are hints of a (perhaps unreciprocated) romantic attraction, and Comber never once mentions the fact that, throughout their friendship, Sebald was married and a father.

The final section of the book describes a European tour Comber took after Sebald’s untimely death, visiting some of the places mentioned in his books and poetry. This section was less interesting, and felt to me like filler.

A fascinating read for all Sebald fans.

Note: I will receive a small referral fee if you buy this book via one of the above links.

Richard Carter

Richard Carter is a writer and photo­grapher living in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire. He is currently working on a book about looking at the world through Darwin’s eyes.Website · Newsletter · Mastodon · Facebook

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