Book review – A gripping read for the big holiday

2012-11-23 10:57

Spare a quarter of your suitcase for this one. The sequel to Fall of Giants, it is the second in Ken Follett’s Century Series.

The first book introduced families in England, Wales, America, Russia, Germany and Austria on the brink of huge changes, the turmoil of the Russian Revolution and the coming of the Great War.

This book picks up the action in the aftermath of the Great War and leads the reader through the rise of Adolf Hitler, through the terrors of the war – in Russia, Germany, England and America.

Follett’s canvas is vast. The threads of this ambitious historical fiction weave a vivid picture of Europe in the mid-20th century.

Ethel, the former housemaid who was knocked up by an Earl’s son, is now a member of parliament. English aristocrat Maud is trapped in Germany and in the cross hairs of the Nazis, while her son dons a Brown Shirt and her daughter works for the underground.

The Russian brothers – Lev and Grigori – make contact again under uneasy circumstances while their respective children join the war effort.

At more than 800 pages, you’d think Winter of the World would be hard going. It isn’t. The characters feel like friends – or foes – and I was through it in a weekend. The characters who were idealists in love in Fall of Giants have matured into parents and political players.

This series captures the world order-shaking events of the 20th century in human stories – each one of which is probably pretty close to the truth.

Winter of the World by Ken Follett
Macmillan
832; R206

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