I found this slightly disappointing. The woman of the title is Maria Eich, a creation of Amette?s who is employed by the Stasi to spy on Brecht, who has returned to Germany after a number of years in the U.S.: they fear that he has been ideologically contaminated by the Americans. The novel is mainly seen through Maria?s eyes, although towards the end of the book the plot sags when Brecht tires of her and Amette then foregrounds the unrequited love sub-plot to prop the novel up.
For me, the novel could have been made more interesting, and without compromising any of Maria?s passivity ? she in some ways resembles Jean Rhys?s lost women ? by intellectualizing her more: we discover a little of Brecht?s aesthetic and we catch a glimpse of Luk?cs meeting him, but we don?t learn anything of the dialogue between Brecht?s modernism and the literary Soviet realist norm.
Nevertheless, apart from the narrator?s obvious feminist sympathies for Maria, another interesting issue is the overwhelming inability of some of the characters to communicate with others. I?ve never read any other book by Amette ? does anyone know if this is a prominent theme in his work? (Obviously communication in general was a problem in a Soviet Bloc country, but this seems to be more existential.)