Heaven Has No Favorites: Erich Maria Remarque

Heaven Has No Favorites, written by Erich Maria Remarque, is a (post WWII) love story entwined with an unforeseen twist. 

The premise revolves around two main characters – Lillian and Clerfayt – who experience life with parallel outcomes. For one, Lillian is ill from tuberculosis, while Clerfayt puts himself through danger as a race car driver. Though their livelihoods are different, they have similar beliefs about happiness, and the challenges depression and aftershock war can cause. Likewise, the two form a close friendship. However, as Lillian is dying and would rather live out her last days outside a hospital ward, Clerfayt agrees to drive her around Paris, Venice, and so on. At first, the arrangement works in their favor … until one of them begins to fall in love. 

This novel, despite its basic plot, has a distinct cast – most notably Lillian. Although Remarque was a male writer, he’s able to accomplish what so few have achieved: a strong, unique female character. Despite her illness, she (Lillian) is able to disregard death and simply enjoy the moments that remain. In turn, readers are able to (using her) explore one’s significance, illusion, and reality. Thus, while the book is (more or less) philosophical, it doesn’t overcomplicate the message it tries to achieve. 

By no means will I spoil the twist, although I’d like to put in a quick word about it. The surprise (which is never quite hinted at) made me shed a few tears! Its abrupt nature adds to the initial shock – so make sure you’ve attentive. 🙂

In all, Heaven Has No Favorites is a poignant tale anxious to make one imagine a time outside our own. 

-Emilia D.

6 thoughts on “Heaven Has No Favorites: Erich Maria Remarque

  1. I always love male authors who are able to write wonderful stories about women even if they are not the main character. Thank you for the recommendation! I will be sure to check it out.

  2. The premise of the story sounds very interesting and the time the story is set in makes it even more intriguing. It sounds like a great novel and I’d like to take a look at it. Thanks for the review!

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