WINTER OF THE WORLD by Ken Follett

WINTER OF THE WORLD

From the "Century Trilogy" series, volume 2

KIRKUS REVIEW

Follett continues the trilogy begun with Fall of Giants (2010) with a novel that ranges across continents and family trees.

It makes sense that Follett would open with an impending clash, since, after all, it’s Germany in 1933, when people are screaming about why the economy is so bad and why there are so many foreigners on the nation’s streets. The clash in question, though, is a squabble between journalist Maud von Ulrich, née Lady Maud Fitzherbert—no thinking of Brigitte Jones here—and hubby Walter, a parliamentarian headed for stormy times. Follett’s big project, it seems, is to reduce the bloody 20th century to a family saga worthy of a James Michener, and, if the writing is less fluent than that master’s, he succeeds. Scrupulous in giving characters major and minor plenty of room to roam on the stage, Follett extends the genealogy of the families introduced in the first volume, taking into account the twists and turns of history: If Grigori Peshkov was a hero of the Bolshevik Revolution, his son Volodya is a dutiful soldier of the Stalin regime—dutiful, but not slavishly loyal. Indeed, most of the progeny here spend at least some of the time correcting the mistakes of their parents’ generation: Carla von Ulrich becomes a homegrown freedom fighter in Germany, which will have cliffhanger-ish implications at the very end of this installment, while Lloyd Williams, son of a parliamentarian across the Channel, struggles against both fascism and communism on the front in the Spanish Civil War. (Lloyd’s a perspicacious chap; after all, even George Orwell needed time and distance from the war to gain that perspective.) Aside from too-frequent, intrusive moments of fourth-wall-breaking didacticism—“Supplying weaponry was the main role played by the British in the French resistance”—Follett’s storytelling is unobtrusive and workmanlike, and he spins a reasonable and readable yarn that embraces dozens of characters and plenty of Big Picture history, with real historical figures bowing in now and then. Will one of them be Checkers, Richard Nixon’s dog, in volume 3? Stay tuned.

An entertaining historical soap opera.

Pub Date: Sept. 18th, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-525-95292-3
Page count: 960pp
Publisher: Dutton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 2012




TOP 25 SEPTEMBER FICTION:

FictionTHE BOOK OF MISCHIEF by Steve Stern
by Steve Stern
FictionTELEGRAPH AVENUE by Michael Chabon
by Michael Chabon
FictionTHE GARDEN OF EVENING MISTS by Tan Twan Eng
by Tan Twan Eng
MysteryDEAD ANYWAY by Chris Knopf
by Chris Knopf

OUR CRITICS' TAKES ON MORE BESTSELLERS

See full list >
Cover art for SAINT ANYTHING
VERDICT:
BORROW IT
Cover art for THE ISLE OF THE LOST
VERDICT:
SKIP IT
Cover art for THE WORST CLASS TRIP EVER
VERDICT:
BORROW IT
Cover art for A GOD IN RUINS
VERDICT:
BUY IT

MORE BY KEN FOLLETT

FictionEDGE OF ETERNITY by Ken Follett
by Ken Follett
FictionPILLARS OF THE EARTH by Ken Follett
by Ken Follett
FictionFALL OF GIANTS by Ken Follett
by Ken Follett

SIMILAR BOOKS SUGGESTED BY OUR CRITICS:

NonfictionIN THE GARDEN OF BEASTS by Erik Larson
by Erik Larson
NonfictionDREAMLAND by Howard M. Sachar
by Howard M. Sachar