The Stronger Sex
Hans Werner Kettenbach, translated by Anthea Bell
Bitter Lemon, May 17 2011, $14.95
Dying wheelchair bound septuagenarian industrialist Herbert Klofft fired his thirtyish assistant Katharina Fuchs though they had an affair for most of the eleven years she worked for him. Outraged because the engineer felt she was extremely loyal to the ruthless elderly Klofft, Fuchs sues for wrongful dismissal.
Seventy-seven years old Dr. Hockeppel orders employee Dr. Alexander Zabel to defend Klofft. The twenty nine years old attorney quickly realizes the case is a loser as his client is infamous as much for being a philander as he is for his unethical business practices. Worse Zabel is embarrassed that he is attracted to Klofft’s elderly wife Cilly. His sexual desire makes him better understand his client as he sees similarities between them and between him and his boss, but the case remains hopeless.
This is an intriguing psychological thriller that is totally character driven by the three men in Frau Kloftt’s life as she is a seemingly benign femme fatale. The story line is leisurely paced to enable the audience to feel they are in Germany whether riding the car driven by Karl or smelling Cilly’s perfume. Not for everyone as the action is limited, The Stronger Sex is a deep look at relationships that cross the acceptable ethical barriers.