This book seemed to appear on quite a few of the "Best books of 2011" lists that I happened to see over the New Year period. It was this, and the number of reservations on it at the library, that I thought it would be worth a look. I didn't even KNOW until I started reading, that the plot is centred in one of my all time favourite settings, Nazi Germany circa WW2. A strange preoccupation, you may say, but it is a period of history that I find deeply interesting.
I've read a couple of novels recently that take place in Berlin more towards the beginning of Hitler's reign (Rebecca Cantrell's Hannah Vogel spy thrillers) and in All that I am, I found that the basis on real people and events from the time was truly fascinating. It is the story of activist German emigres, forced from their homes in Berlin for their contrary political activities, and their efforts in trying to warn the indifferent British against the Nazis.

At the centre of the story is Dora, a strong character who is single minded in her efforts to derail the rise of the Nazis and fight against them in any way she can. The story of this community of exiled Germans is told from the perspectives of two people whose lives Dora profoundly impacted, that of Ernst Toller, a playwright, WW1 veteran and political prisoner, and that of Ruth Weseman, her young cousin.

Their fragmented reminiscences combined paint a strong picture of their shared sacrifice, loss and regret, and the love they had in common for this woman whose life is otherwise unrecorded in the known history of the time.

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Nazi Germany is not so strange a preoccupation.. I'm also a sucker!  Despite the terrible human suffering that went on, some of the most courageous stories of endurance have come out of it and it is these stories that make this era so fascinating. This particular story is no exception and it had me rapt throughout. Based on real life people and events Anna Funder has created a novel that reads like a spy thriller with a bit of romance thrown in.Some have criticised her for not sticking to non fiction but I completely disagree. I think she did a brilliant job with this book and by making it fiction she got to add an extra dimension to the writing that non fiction would have lacked. Loved it!!! 

This book is really non-fiction.  I can attest to this as the main character was my French and German teacher at M.L.C. in Melbourne 1947-1949.  Her name was Dr. Ruth Blatt.  The book is well-written and interesting - but loses a star because it is confusing.



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