Christine Rebbert's Reviews > Winter of the World

Winter of the World by Ken Follett
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Dec 01, 12

Read in November, 2012

When I heard there was a release date for this next book in Follett's planned trilogy, I was checking the library website several times a day after that date came to get on the wait-list for it as soon as I could. Still, I wound up being 87th! (I rarely BUY books anymore...) The book continues the stories of the same five families from "Fall of Giants", or the next generations thereof, from the 1920's to the late 1940's. Again, it was a real page-turner for the story, but the writing was even more of a disappointment than the first book had been. It had the sense of being "phoned in" or maybe dictated, not actually WRITTEN. Serviceable at best... Unfortunately, I returned my copy to the library without going back to all the pages on which I had turned up the bottom corner because I felt there was something "wrong", mostly in terms of words/expressions that I didn't believe were in common use in the actual historical period they were used. I'm awfully sensitive to that, and think it's sloppy.

As much as I enjoyed the story, it did get somehow tedious that some member of one of these five families seemed to be at every important historical happening throughout all these years! It sometimes seemed that characters were being thrown into situations just to be able to refer to some historical point.

I will probably read the next/last book in the trilogy whenever it comes out, just to see how the stories turn out, and can only hope that the writing gets better. I have not read anything else by Follett, so I don't know if this is his usual way of writing. It's sort of like how I think Danielle Steele is a really terrible writer, but she tells a great story (although I can read one only maybe once a decade). It would have been great to read a book that tells this story in an actual nuanced way; this is more like a series of newspaper articles. The dialog is ludicrous at times, and certain phrases are repeated over and over and over -- like, every female in the book seems to be described at one point or another as being "alluring". Sometimes the way things were written actually made me cringe...

But again, I did learn some history, although having read a great deal about Germany leading up to and during WWII, I felt there were some big gaps. As another reviewer here mentioned, the Holocaust is given very short shrift. And the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs seemed to have happened almost tangentially. But I CAN tell you a lot about various characters' sex lives...

I was afraid it was going to take too long to get through the 950-ish pages of this book (I knew I wouldn't be able to renew it at the library, with others still on the wait-list), but since the writing is generally sophomoric (one-sentence paragraphs, etc.), it went pretty quickly! So, a nice average "3" for this book, although a half-point would have been appreciated so it could have been a 2.5!
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