…by Anna Funder.
Ruth Becker is living out her last days in the Eastern suburbs of Sydney. In another lifetime away in 1939, Ernst Toller recounts his life sitting in a New York hotel room. When Toller’s story arrives at Ruth’s doorstep, she is caught up in the memories of their shared past. Of when Hitler came into power. And Ruth along with her outspoken cousin Dora, Ruth’s husband Hans, Toller, and others escaped Germany to seek refuge in neighbouring European countries while at the same time attempting to fight his reign. The four of them find refuge in London and continue to take risks. However, things are not safe even in England. And following several threats and break-ins, the ultimate betrayal by one they trust will tear their lives apart…
Inspired by true events and based on real characters, this piece of historical fiction is brilliantly penned. While initially it takes a little while to get into, it speeds up dramatically as you go on. The chapters move from Ruth reminiscing in 2001 about the events prior to 1939 to Toller recounting the same events in 1939. Dora is the main character around whom both their memories revolve. Brave, passionate and determined, this feisty young girl tries to stand up against the tyranny of Nazism. Half-way through the book, I had an idea about who would be the betrayer and I was right. But that didn’t take away the drama and suspense which had me holding my breath. And in the end I think I was gobsmacked more so because these are based on true life events. Dora was a real person. As were Ruth, Toller and Hans. And that’s what made it even more chilling.
A highly recommended read, I give it a rating of 4.
Until next time,
Note: This was originally published on my personal blog.