Jess's Reviews > All That I Am

All That I Am by Anna Funder
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's review
Mar 25, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: australian-literature, australia, historical-fiction, immigration, new-york, refugees, sydney, war, politics, germany
Read from March 06 to 25, 2012

While Anna Funder is a skilled writer with a deep knowledge and passion for German political history, this novel never quite captivated me but I feel that, with one exception, that was more about inattention than any failing in the quality of the writing. The interchange between Ruth's and Toller's narration served a particular function but I cannot help but think that it also served to interrupt my connection to the narrative and characters. Toller's voice never felt real to me, whereas I did find a greater sense of appreciation for and connection with that of Ruth, so I was often irritated when her chapters came to an end and Toller appeared once more. This is the only feature of the novel itself that I felt disrupted my connection to and enjoyment of it. I look forward to reading more of Funder's work, including going back and reading Stasiland, which I have been lazy about picking up even though it's been recommended to me by so many people.

I must admit that I know little of the real people and events fictionalised in All That I Am, so I can't really judge the authenticity or voracity of Funder's story but - despite my professed lack of immersion into the novel, I believe she does a wonderful job at pulling together her research (as detailed in the Sources appendix) and imagining between the gaps. I heard Funder speak in relation to this novel at ACCA several years ago; I admire her passion and her commitment to exploring the untold stories of Germany's past.
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