Buddenbrooks: The Decline of a Family

This was a re-read, my interest in Mann rekindled by Magic Mountain’s eerily wrapping itself around my brain. Short chapters work really well for me, but I did have to push a bit to consume this tale of a wealthy German family deteriorating into poverty and death. From the first chapter, we dine on descriptions of each family member’s laugh, “a high pinched giggle,” “giggled exactly like her husband,” “laughed the Kroger laugh which began with a splutter as her chin was pressed against the chest.”
The respectable old merchant has just settled his family into an enormous house at the beginning, and by the end, the estate is sold off, the last heir dies of typhoid fever, the widow moves back to Amsterdam, and Tony lives on, bemoaning her fate of divorce, abandonment, widowhood. In the early sections of the book, Tony grapples with not wanting to marry the merchant, falls in love with the seashore student of medicine, but is whisked back to town to marry Grunlich after all. The whole story I kept waiting for the doctor to reappear to sweep Tony off her feet, but she is doomed to have a few more awful marriages.
Much preferred Magic Mountain to this, but glad to have it behind me.