Q&A with Bernhard Schlink
Q: Do you think Michael is capable of ever letting go of the impact his relationship with Hanna had on him? It's strange in that, certainly, our first loves stay with us somehow, no matter how they might have hurt us or who they turned out to be. Could the same be said of Michael?
A: Well, it was a first love, and it had been particularly powerful love situation. Hanna's age, her experience, combined with both her softness and her cruelty, made her a very complex woman. More complex than a 16-year-old would have experienced. In the second act of the book, meeting her again in the courtroom, you realize that the experience will stay with him for the rest of his life.