Monday, January 7, 2013



I listed to this as an audiobook - all 24 discs! Over 24 hours worth of epic novel. It took weeks...and I still wanted more!
Follett put together a masterpiece here. The size and scale of this story was immense. It could easily have been broken down into five books and still made for lengthy indepth reading. But, his skill at putting them all together made for a much more rewarding read. He weaved the stories of five different families together to give us a fictional account of the huge changes that were going on at the beginning of the twentieth century and how they effected the entire globe. A welsh coal mining family, a British Earl, an American diplomat, a cosmopolitan German family, and a lowly Russian factory labourer are the pieces Follett uses to assemble his puzzle.
World War one is an event that is hard to decipher; why did it start, why did it last so long, why was it so bloody? Taking a look through all the different pieces, Ken gave us a glimpse of the varied interpretations of how the war began, how it was fought, and how desperate things became after years and years of destruction.
It was very interesting to read about the rigid social structure of the early 1900's and see how quickly it changed. I kept picturing Downton Abbey while reading, mostly because of the Earl and the maids. The storyline in this book and the storylines in Downton Abbey were strangely very similar.
The book took us right through to the 1920's where it just kind of ended. Typically series books end with a cliffhanger of some sort, but, there was nothing like that here. Just a kind of, uh, I don't Follett went for a bathroom break and never came back to the ol' typewriter? You know the stories are not done, you know there is going to be a World War was just unexpected when the book ended - just like that!
I do have one small criticism of the story. All of the characters rose to a level of importance that seemed a bit unrealistic, seeing as the story took place in the real world. For eg, at many points during the book characters were advising Prime Ministers, Presidents, and Kaisers. They were in positions that, in the real world, would have made a giant impact on how things really worked out. It  felt a bit too far fetched, but, just a bit. It was easy to overlook until you finished the book and took out your critical pair or eye glasses (from that special radioactive-proof case you keep in the cabinet under the sink in the downstairs bathroom) and looked the book over again.
I'm looking forward to book two - Winter of the World - which I will mostly likely listen to. To save time. I can do it while I'm inputting data, mindlessly, into the computer system at work. It would take me months to read the entire 900 and some odd pages...I have other big books to read. Plus, the reader of these books does a great Cockney accent, and a fair Russian one as well...his American accent is a bit too 'Texan' for my liking though.


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