September 27, 2011

All That I Am - Anna Funder

I am not really sure how this has happened but I have a pile of books waiting to be reviewed - some that I finished reading months ago - so I have made a vow that I will get through them in the next couple of weeks in order to free the clutter that is currently consuming my mind - so many book thoughts!!

All That I Am is a book I had been eagerly awaiting as soon as I found out the author would be releasing her first novel. I am currently reading my way through Funder's first book, her non fiction work, Stasiland, and I am completely absorbed by her writing. I was so excited to see that her skill flowed over into the fiction genre as All That I Am turned out to be just, if not more, captivating than Stasiland.
All That I Am is a novel based on real people and events - although I have to say that I was not familiar with these people before reading this book. Funder explains a little about the creation of the novel and how she has intertwined real stories and people with other characters and events in the acknowledgements at the end of the book.
I was hooked from the first line of the book;

When Hitler came to power I was in the bath.

I just love it! So brief and simple and yet so powerful and evocative at the same time. The book goes on to tell the story of Hitler's rise to power in post WW1 Germany from the perspective of Ruth Becker, a young revolutionary opposed to Hitler's politics and his vision for her country. Ruth's older cousin, Dora and her husband, Hans are also involved in dangerous political and social activities and they are soon forced to flee Germany for London so as to ensure their safety. Another member of their activist group is the German playwright, Ernst Toller whom makes contact with Ruth through his writings many years later when she is living in Australia.
Funder has obviously done meticulous research for this book - not that the novel comes across as dull or research based - rather as clear, informed and authentic. Each of the characters are fully formed and explored - although secrets and new observations arise as the novel progresses.
The language and the writing style are engaging and intelligent - I fell totally in love with the structure of this book and the story it was portraying. I would definitely recommend this to any reader interested in the period prior to and during WW2 but also readers who love a novel driven by characters and their internal and external conflicts. Am amazing read.


Marg said...

That is a fabulous opening line! I think I am going to have to get this book!

Kelly said...

Ooo I love me a well researched novel! Definitely need to get my hands on this one :)

Rebecca Chapman said...

I saw Alice Funder speak on the First Tuesday Book Club and I thought that she seemed like someone that really puts a lot of thought into things. She was very articulate and easy to listen to. I had heard of Stasiland, but hadn't read it (I'm just not a non-fiction kind of girl) but seeing her speak did make me think that I would visit her fiction at some point. I am glad that I have read our review of the book, it has certainly made me think that it is a book I would enjoy quite a lot.

Karen said...

Hi Marg - It is a great opener isn't it?? I envy authors who can come up with lines like that! The good thing is that she follows it up with more great writing too!

Hi Kelly - From my perspective this book was definitely well researched.

Hi Becky - thanks so much for your comment. I saw Funder on the First Tuesday Bookclub too and thought she was a little restrained actually!! I felt like her writing demonstrated more passion than her in person (but that's only my perspective!).

verity said...

I loved Stasiland so intrigued to find out what she is like at writing novels. No copies yet in the library, but added to my wishlist!

Karen said...

Hi Verity - I think if you enjoyed the style of Funder's writing in Stasiland then you will definitely like this. I hope a copy becomes available soon!

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