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All That I Am (2011)

All That I Am (2011)

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3.76 of 5 Votes: 2
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0062077562 (ISBN13: 9780062077561)

About book All That I Am (2011)

After an indifferent beginning, as I found the first few chapters difficult to focus on, it all came together for me in the second half with an enthralling finale.When I read, and that is generally in short spurts on the bus or before sleep, I rely on a quick attention grab at the start to draw me in, this story didn't really do that until halfway. All that I am is a fascinating insight into a not too often told story of German resistance. In school, this whole aspect of WWII history and English appeasement of Hitler's regime, is pretty much glossed over in favour of the actual conflict, but I am now intrigued and will look into it a lot deeper. "Hans, who was shy speaking to the English, spoke of them as they fitted his preconceptions: a nation of shopkeepers, tea drinkers, lawn clippers. But I came to see them differently. What had seemed a conformist reticence revealed itself, after a time, to be an inbred, ineffable sense of fair play. They didn't need as many external rules as we did because they had internalised the standards of decency."(from the blurb) When Hitler comes to power in 1933, a tight-knit group of friends and lovers become hunted outlaws overnight. United in their resistance to the madness and tyranny of Nazism, they must flee the country. Dora, passionate and fearless, her lover, the great playwright Ernst Toller, her younger cousin Ruth and Ruth's husband Hans find refuge in London. Here they take breathtaking risks in order to continue their work in secret. But England is not the safe haven they think it to be, and a single, chilling act of betrayal will tear them apart.Often a book seems driven by one of three things to me - plot, characters, or beautiful writing. This seemed a half-and-half study of plot and characters. The plot moved at inconsistent speed (and jumped around - but more on that later), but while we stayed in one place and time, particularly in the early 30s in Germany and then in the mid 30s in London, it was well-crafted and progressed. A level of tension is well-maintained without being exhausting. I didn't see the plot twist coming at all. I was surprised when it came, who it was that was responsible, and the effects.I already protested about the back-and-forth perspective, the way we flick from Ruth as an old woman, to Ruth as a young woman during the Nazi years, to Ernst Toller at the start of the war, and back again. I still maintain that Ernst's story served no purpose at all - it was necessary that some of the information about Dora came through him, but that was really it.Young Ruth was my favourite character (I suspect this is Funder's intention); gentle and idealistic, committed and loving. I found Dora more difficult; headstrong, impetuous, strangely unconcerned with consequences. Ernst was sanctimonious and selfish, and Hans was strangely nothing. He was inspired and gregarious as a young man, but he petered out into nothingness in a new country. I loved old Ruth's observations on Bev (her carer) - a little comic relief in the other timeline.This is such a depressing book. So naturally I read it on holiday in Rome in the sunshine. But still. I can't decide whether it needed heavier editing, redirecting, or whether I was never going to like something so dark.One thing this book did teach me was the experience of living in 20s Germany. At school we only heard about the rampant inflation and needing a wheelbarrow full of cash to buy a loaf of bread; this book managed to convey the joy and freedom and idealism and optimism of the early 20s. No mean feat.Not bad, and others will enjoy it more than I. But so, so depressing.

Do You like book All That I Am (2011)?

No quite as good as Anna's first book. A bit slow to start but got interesting later on ...

liked the writing style, but just couldn't absolutely engage with this novel for some reason

Well writtengood pace throughoutloved it!

Very well written but very sad.

Raw and heart-breaking.

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