The Heilmanns in Berlin and the Kronings tending their land near Leipzig, two loyal families working hard and accepting the Fuhrer's assurances of eventual victory. It is through their respective children, Sieglinde and Erich that the domestic detail of life under the Third Reich is revealed, innocent eyes capturing the ascent of a dream and the failure of a monstrous regime.
Poignant and insightful, this is a remarkable story, aided by its mysterious narrator, revealing ordinary citizens believing until they could no longer. and asking the question - why did no-one ask questions? [Larger font]
Mixed feelings amongst our group. Some found the book difficult to get into. Others loved the atmosphere created by the mix of storytelling, historical details and symbolism,.
A few said it was one of their all-time top 10 books!
Most of our group loved this book, particularly the story offering a different perspective on WWII, and also the beautiful prose. A couple of people didn't enjoy it at all!
An unusual, yet appealing, focus on ordinary German family life during World War 2. Chidgey captures well the innocence of children as they face the growing organisation and tightening restrictions placed on them by the harsh rule of their beloved leader. The Fuhrer can do no wrong, but the reader, with the hindsight of history, fills in the gaps and wonders how even the adults are carried along with propaganda. The two women, Frau Miller and Frau Muller, were a welcome ease of tension and were so believable! Discovering the identity of the narrator came to some of our group earlier than expected, as we wondered at the wistful, fragmented passages of vague longing. An interesting and talented author we would like to meet again.
Three of our group did not finish the book finding the plot difficult to follow, resulting in a 4 star rating. Those that did read the book felt that it was well researched and very cleverly written. It gave a very different perspective on the war and showed how propaganda was used effectively to manipulate a population's view of the world. Having just watched the Netflix documentary 'The Social Dilemma' many of our group felt that there is a real risk for something like this to happen again with social media being used to manipulate the way groups of society view the world.
Group found this a challenging read, and would not recommend to other groups. We thought it was overly ambitious and overly complicated with too many themes. We liked the author's style of writing.
Excessive themes and devices made for confusion and lack of cohesiveness. Hard to get into. Generally pleased to have read it but wouldn't readily recommend.
Technically well-written but for most members it lacks real depth, hence the average rating.
Only 2 people finished the book. Most found it a bit obscure. It did give a very good idea of peoples' adoration of and belief in Hitler.
Whilst we appreciated the historical research, none of us enjoyed this book.
We loved this book, such beautifully crafted writing. And excellent discussion questions too.
More than one of our members said that this book is one of the best books that we have read in this programme of 30 years! It took most of us a while to adjust to the metaphors and the many threads of narrative. We improved on this as we progressed with the book. The insight into the lives of ordinary German citizens in the war was alternately fascinating and horrifying...
All enjoyed the book - one member felt Catherine Chidgey to be a genius, another found the writing fantastic, but the plot a bit overburdened. One member taught in the English Dept of the author's secondary school, and took full credit for it all:-)
Most of the group read part of the book and found it hard to get into. The 3 who finished it loved it.
Very good notes. Very well-written and well-researched.
This story was brilliant. It was such a clever depiction of the insidious way in which ordinary law abiding people were manipulated into becoming wilfully ignorant citizens... This was a very different story of World War II. Excellent notes!