Wednesday, 29 February 2012

You'll weep, you'll cry, you'll bawl - and then you'll thank me (or, why historical novels are awesome)

general3 via alexbracken

Sex, drama, tension, humour, joy, sorrow, disgust - no, I'm not talking about the Oscars ceremony, but rather the many, MANY things that historical novels manage to fit in a couple of hundred pages.

Now, I'm a bit of a historical novel groupie. Throw in a bit of ...

With a bit of ... 
And what you get is pure awesome (disclaimer: I understand that these films aren't accurate portrayals. Queen E was way more of a bad-ass than Cate). 

Unfortunately, I haven't read any of these bodice-ripping extravaganzas recently. 

It kind of turns out that all the historical novels I have read in the past couple of weeks have been about WWII: the yet-to-be released FitzOsbornes at War, All That I Am and I've just started Code Name Verity.

And it must be said, these are not happy books. If you want to turn that frown upside down, put a smile on your dial, put on a happy face, *insert more international cliches here* then probs best to avoid (you hear what I'm laying down?). 

The FitzOsbornes you can probably handle without withdrawing from the world too much, but after reading All That I Am be ready for some heavy-duty fetal-position hiding-under-the-table crying. 

All That I Am starts off in Bondi circa now. This bird-chirpingly sunny suburb of Sydney is basically as far as you can get, in location and tone, from Berlin in the 1930s. 

Our main character is Ruth, an old lady when we first meet her. Ruth is pretty awesome, laidback, witty. 

She also happens to be the main character in the 1930s, when she hangs out with a group of German intellectuals, activists, playwrights, and other assorted cool people, including her activist cousin Dora. These people vigorously protest against the Nazis, and well, after that, it's pretty much what you expect. Most of this group are Jewish, and are doubly persecuted for their heritage and their leftist views. 

The story itself is captivating, grabbing your attention and shaking you right down to your booties. But the writing ... be still my reading heart. Oh. My. Dahl. It's writing that's so easy to read, but occasionally will have a turn-of-phrase so simply ace that you will need to stop reading the book so that you can hug it.

I'm not going to tell you anymore now (and don't read any more reviews, just GET THE DAMN BOOK). But read the author's note at the end. It. Will. Make. You. Cry. But seriously people. It's Anna Funder. You weren't expecting sunshine and lollipops? 

Anyhow, if you will excuse me. I have another WWII book that is waiting in line to make me cry. Expect a report soon on Code Name Verity

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