17 July, 2013

#BookReview :: Two Brothers by Ben Elton

Berlin 1920

Two babies are born.

Two brothers. United and indivisible, sharing everything. Twins in all but blood.

As Germany marches into its Nazi Armageddon, the ties of family, friendship and love are tested to the very limits of endurance. And the brothers are faced with an unimaginable choice....Which one of them will survive?

The story is starts in 1920. Hitler’s National Socialist Party was just starting to take form. And unbeknownst to what it would come to mean, the people of Germany were mostly living a good life. It was the same for Wolfgang, a musician and Frieda Stengel, a medical student expecting twins. When one of their twins is stillborn, the couple adopts a child whose single mother had died in childbirth an hour before. They take home their children and raise them as their own twins. So much so, that even the children are not aware that they aren’t really related by blood.
But their bubble of a happy is abruptly broken with Hitler's continuous rise to power. The Jews were targeted for all that is wrong in the country. Increasing hatred against Jews and the slaughters of Jewish families put the Strengels’ on the edge. Their only chance of survival comes with a very difficult decision.

The Nazi reign in Germany is a well discussed and well explored territory. Between classroom syllabus, fiction and non-fiction books and movies, I doubt there is anyone who doesn’t know about the situation back then. But Ben Elton takes it to a whole new level through his characters in this book. The characters being so well developed, gives a sense of reality which in turn takes us on a high emotional ride because it is just that easy to get involved. The impersonal narration in history books to the fact based reporting in news articles – no matter how horrific doesn’t really touch your core because of the lack of emotions in them. ‘Two Brothers’ makes you feel for its characters and fall in love with them before narrating the horrors of their story – which could easily be the story of thousands of other families of that period. The Stengels can be described as an average family, whose experiences are anything but average.

I guess the author’s own family history has helped him to lend such authenticity to the story. His writing and narration style has complimented to the overall story. The humorous edge during the boys’ childhood to the darker shade of narration during their later life helped with the flow. The twists and turns in the lives of the ‘twins’ are unpredictable touching.

From the first page to the last, this book held me in a vice tight grip that I didn’t want to break away from. A real page turner that make certain ideas turn to feel like reality.

Buy the Book

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