Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Two Brothers - Ben Elton

I'm revisiting this book having finished reading it yesterday.

I was really, really impressed with it.  It is a super read, challenging at times and not a light hearted jovial read but I thoroughly recommend it.

The scenario is two boys born on the same day in 1920. The same day the Nazi party was founded.  One was born a jew, but his twin brother was still born.  The hospital ask the Jewish mother if she would raise the second boy who is an orphan his mother having died in childbirth.  Two boys, one Jewish, one not but both being brought up in a Jewish family in the 1920s and 30s in Berlin.  Some of the book is written as a retrospective from the point of view of one of the brothers, the one that survives WWII in 1956.

Cleverly written which plenty of twists, some of which I did suss out but the book is no worse for that.  However being put into the shoes of these boys and their family and friends during those times has brought alive to me some of the horrendous nature of that atrocity.  It is also a book about love, the sacrifices some will make for love and the manipulation others will carry out in the name or love.  It is also reflects on how do you deal with the pain of resentment that injustice can bring to you.

I'm very lucky.  I'm male, I'm white, I was born in England and have lived here all my life.  I take all the freedoms and benefits I have just through those three facts about me which are simply luck of the draw very much for granted.  This book reminded me that should remember that gratitude more often.

Ben Elton comes himself from Jewish stock that fled from Germany during the pogroms.  He has links to family there still - so some of this he has based loosely on family accounts - that makes it all the more compelling as well.

I do totally recommend it... anyone remember the old Furtheron Thumbs Up Book Review (FTUBR) scale?  No ... not surprised... anyway... this is a double thumbs up with a grin and a "read this it is really good" - the highest accolade on that scale I've ever given a book.  Only Stuart: A life Backwards by Alexander Masters has bettered that!

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