Can you move forward without making peace with your past? What makes a marriage successful? Is infidelity ever acceptable? What defines love? Burying Leo by Helga Gruendler-Schierloh would make these questions pop into your head time and again. Ingrid Bassen has been married to Joe Bassen for about fourteen years now but she is not sure whether this is a marriage or she is just a pawn in his pursuit of success. He uses her as a bargaining chip in his business negotiations. She would gladly forgive him for using her if he would just grant her the wish of having a child. Any time she even tries to raise this subject, he storms out of the house. There was once a time when she managed to be pregnant; however, she went through a miscarriage. As much as she blames her husband for being devoid of the joy of becoming a mother, there is someone in her past, who goes by the name Leo Rehmann, whom she holds the most responsible for her condition. She knows that she would not be at peace until she puts the demons of her past in their true place.
The story of Ingrid is filled with lots of mysteries. Her strange relationship with her husband made me extremely curious. I had to know why would anybody be in such an unfulfilling and disrespectful relationship. Joe Bassen does not hurt Ingrid physically, but he hurts her nonetheless. Keeping a woman devoid of being a mother for your own selfish gains is never acceptable. Joe Bassen could not care less about her dismay or desire. He takes decisions, no matter how big or small, without asking for her viewpoint. Their disturbing relationship kept me turning pages to understand the reason for them being together in the first place. The moment I discovered this reason, the author threw Leo in one of the chapters. When I read how much disgusted and inconsolable Ingrid became the moment she was reminded of Leo, I got another incentive to know what he did to her that made her so vengeful.
Since Ingrid’s origin is Germany, there is so much to learn about the place and satiate a traveler’s thirst of places to visit. I know I noted many places that I would love to see. The author has filled quite a few pages with this knowledge and I am grateful for the same.
The author has put forth a version of love which does not require a sexual relationship. While many feel that a love is incomplete unless you have been together in every possible way, Helga Gruendler-Schierloh has presented a love that is beyond these boundaries, yet it is as real as any other kind of love. The execution of conversations and emotions of the characters is extremely proficient. I connected with Ingrid, her concerns, and worries very quickly. I wanted to see her happy after all the sufferings that she endured. I forgave her when she did something inappropriate in her moments of weakness and could not wait to see her happy ending. The story-telling is quite engaging and interesting.
There is one more aspect to the story that is worth highlighting. When you lose everything, sometimes your forgotten talent come to your rescue. The author, I believe, has a hidden agenda of encouraging her readers to not let their flames die. Ingrid was a passionate singer, but along the way, she forgot her passion and ended up losing her way. Only when she was reminded of her one true love did she manage to find some meaning in the life.
I would recommend this book to the patient readers who like peeling the layers of a complex character and his/her life. If you are a reader who likes being challenged by a character and various between-the-lines life philosophies, then this is the book for you.