All That I Am

All That I AmTwo Years After Hitler Came To Power In Germany, The Bodies Of Dora And Her Friend Mathilde, Prominent Anti Hitler Activists In Exile, Lie Poisoned In A Flat In Bloomsbury The Room Is Locked From The Inside The Place Appears Undisturbed As London Buzzes With Rumours Of Gestapo Assassins Operating On British Soil, The Inquest Whitewashes Their Deaths As Romantic Suicides All That I Am Is The Story Of Four Extraordinary People Who Risked Their Lives To Alert The World To Hitler Two Narrators, Ernst Toller And Ruth, Tell The Story Of Dora, The Woman They Both Loved As We Come To Know Them, And Her, The Novel Reveals Itself As A Searing And Intimate Portrait Of Courage And Its Price, Of Desire And Ambition, And Of The Devastating Consequences When They Are Thwarted Closely Based On A True Story, All That I Am Brings To Light A New And Very Early Hero Of The Resistance In A Beautifully Written Novel That Speaks To Both The Head And The Heart. My story is reconstructed from fossil fragments, much as you might draw skin and feathers over an assembly of dinosaur bones, to fully see the beast So says Ann Funder in the afterword of her novel I m not sure it matters if you read this novel as pure fiction or fictionalised biography I went into this book knowing nothing about the real life characters portrayed and found it worked equally well as elegant literary fiction and page turning thriller All That I Am is about a group of German dissidents who are forced to leave Hitler s Germany and take up residence in London where they are impoverished and hunted It soon becomes clear London offers no guarantee of safety, especially when it s known they have at least one traitor in their midst The novel has two narrators Ernst Toller, the playwright and Ruth Blatt, whom Funder got to know late in her life and no doubt sparked the inspiration for this novel but the character who fascinates Funder and who this novel is essentially about is Dora Fabien To both Tiller and Ruth, the passionate and independent Dora is an indispensable flame of their wellbeing A few times I questioned why Funder needed two narrators, especially because there s an unevenness about th
None of us teacher or taught realised how an imagined life can sustain you as a possibility, a hope, and remain just that Like parallel train tracks, it runs alongside, but will never meet the life you are living This book took me absolutely ages to get into and I have no idea why You know when you know a book is going to be good and the writing is fantastic and the story is brilliant but there is just something stopping you from tearing through it I think the main problem that I had was that I seemed to have missed the one sentence that explained the date when each narrator was so I was getting all muddled But that s not really my fault because no one told me that when you read a book you actually have to you know, read it.Anyway, this book was fascinating I loved the era, I loved the story The characters, well, I could ve done with a bit connection to them.It seems, from other reviews on here, that I m not the only person who felt this book would have been so much better if it was a non fiction I ve never read Funder s Stasiland Stories from Behind the Berlin Wall but from the merits of this book, I really want to It is clear
The main effect this book had on me was a deep sense of my own lack of similar courage I was moved almost to tears by the fate of Ruth Blatt Becker, and the knowledge that this is basically a true story made it all the gripping This book is an excellent example of how best true stories can be converted into novels, without sacrificing either authenticity or readability All too often I ve seen obviously autobiography simply relabelled as a novel , when in truth the writer has not made an attempt to create a narrative arc or to develop characters so that we can identify with them and follow them on a journey that has a beginning, a middle and an end.This book made me realise in what privileged and easy times we live today and how little we are challenged to face the real life and death issues which are still there, even though they are invisible
I am very ashamed to admit that I could not finish this book, the most awarded and lauded Australian book of 2012 And another AWW Was I too tired Am I too frivolous Or was the book just too slow and self aware for my tastes It should have ticked all my boxes Historical fiction yay Set in Nazi Germany yay About a brilliant, independent woman mostly forgotten by history yay I really, really wanted to love this book, but it just put me to slee
This novel was a book club choice that I d never heard of but which gave me some new and interesting insights into a period of German and ultimately European history that I knew little about, namely that leading up to World War II when the world was refusing to listen to German refugees who tried to warn everyone about the dangers of the new regime Most of the characters in the novel were real people at the time, and we hear the story from two characters points of view, Ruth and Toller, who are looking back upon their lives, Ruth as an old woman in Australia, Toller, also much older, in New York The story is structured around their reminiscing and was for a long time confusing to me, partly because they take turns narrating from a first person perspective, and I had to go back and check the chapter headings to figure out who was who It took me quite a while to really get into the story the first 80 100 pages were a mediocre 3 star read to me.Then the real main character of the story, Dora Fabian, began to stand out clearly, and the plot thickened as regards pre war Germany Dora based on a rea
I feel somewhat ambivalent when recognising I m in the process of reading a masterpiece and make no mistake, Anna Funder s All That I Am is a masterpiece The reason for my ambivalence is because, although I ll begin to slow down, take my time with every page, to soak it up, to wallow, call it what you will, the book must still, eventually, come to an end Just to reiterate Anna Funder s All That I Am is such a book.There s my own, personal story behind it, too A couple of years ago, I was on the local university campus, Norwich s UEA to be exact, having just attended a Fiction in Translation presentation it was, indeed, my teacher of German at the UEA who d recommended her first work, Stasiland, true stories from those who d worked for the Stasi behind the Berlin wall, and a book for which Anna received great acclaim Straight after which, with a friend, I called into the campus Waterstones we browsed a few of the studied books in translation and so on In time, I happened to come across Anna Funder s masterpiece , out on a table I tapped the book and whispered to my friend She s good She s standing there, at the counter, said my friend, muffling a laugh She meant Anna Funder No time like the present, I thought I b
This is an important story, beautifully written, about selflessness, determination, intimacy, collaboration, separation, exile Told in two voices, it s an interesting juxtaposition of times in history Ruth s story with her cousin Dora told from the present day and Toller s story of his relationship with Dora told from New York in 1939 Knowing all we know now, reading about the tense and frightening days when Hitler was new to power, and about the brave intellectuals and exiles who fought against his regime, and attempted to warn the world, even before the very worst happened, makes all the sickening that Hitler ruled at all The eve of World War II, the politics, the lawfulness and lawlessness, the Independent Social Democrats who became the Socialist Workers Party, a bridge between the Communists and the Social Democrats This novel is as taut as a thriller, as detailed as a period piece, and as graceful as a love story Skilled and unforgettable When Hitler came to power I was in the bath. A great first line His only mode, with everyone, was intimacy. abt Toller But I must say it has been, in general, a boon not to have been a beautiful woman Because I was barely looked at, I was free to do the looking. I wanted to read this book before the Mile s Franklin award for 2012 is announced as I m predicting this book will win All That I Am by Anna Funder is told from the perspective of Ruth Becker and Ernst Toller in alternate chapters Both Ruth and Toller are remembering life in 1930 s Germany as political activists Both characters, along with Ruth s husband Hans and Toller s lover Dora, publically speak out against Hitler and everything he stands for, advocating independence and freedom of speech for Germany This book starts out very heavy trying to cover all the relevant back story of Germany in the 1930 s while still trying to drive the story along This is a delicate balance to manage but I think Anna Funder did a good job at managing this I know people may disagree with me but I think with the subject matter and the back story that needs to be covered, the author still manages to keep the reader turning the page, and for me, that never felt boring I love the fact that this story is about the politics and the effect Hitler s rise to power will have on the German people rather than dealing with the holocaust.The simple fact that this book tries to deal with the social impacts of the changing Germany has been the biggest contributing factor to my enjoyment of the book I couldn t care less about Toller who is writing
This is the kind of historical fiction I so very much love You learn history and at the same time feel the emotions of the people who live through the historical events I would suggest reading Sebastian Barry s A Long Long Way and then continuing with this book by Anna Funder Barry s book takes you to the trenches of Belgium during WW1 WW1 is the basis for what happens in Germany leading up to Hitler and WW2.The people who are the prime protagonists in Funder s book lived through WW1 and were shaped by it They were pacifists and became socialist activists who sought to prevent Hitler s rise to power You cannot understand one event without understanding what came before You have to feel in your gut what those who lived through WW1 felt Funder s book of historical fiction is based on true events and real people The author has gone beneath the events and depicted the emotional underpinnings of these people s lives It is the emotions that Funda has imagined, drawing from her in depth study of the known facts I cannot recommend these two books highly When I read a wonderful book of historical fiction I need to know exactly what is true and what imagined Half way through I was going crazy because search in Wikipedia did not provide all the answers My GR friend Jennifer helped me find the link about Dora She point
I m not going to give this a rating as that would be unfair based on how much of it I read However, it would be a 1 star rating for what I have read This book was totally not for me I picked it for a reading challenge and because it was based in Germany Let me say, Ms Funder writes very nice That isn t that problem with the book for me I had two main problems One The changing from character to character and present to past per character was annoying for me It was bad enough keeping track of who was talking let alone what period it was in Second As I am from German and Prussian heritage, with parents that were in World War II, grandparents in World War I, who lived and grew up in the areas such as Charlottenburg , I found