Jan 15, 13
Read in January, 2013
This is the 2nd of 3 books by Follett (3rd is not written), and just came out. It could be read independently of the 1st book, but I would not advise. Again, this book concerns the lives of five families (US, Russian, English, Welch, and Germans), but now this one begins in early '30's yet centered on World War II. The children of the first book play major roles in the second book, although their parents - featured in the 1st - remain central characters.
As in the 1st book, this one melds the history of WWII with the characters. It is very interesting, very believable, and a great read. It is over 900 pages long.
I gave a 4 to this one and not the 5 I had to the first one for just one reason involving several characters. Two young men are half brothers, but do not know it until they are like 25. One is the legitimate son of a landed, rich, conservative man and his stuck up Russian aristocrat wife; the other is his illegitimate son (mother was a maid at his father's estate in Wales - and she goes on to become a Labor member of parliament). The legitimate son initially is pro-Nazi, but is cast as a playboy with women and toys (e.g., flying). He marries a social ladder climbing American girl (so this involves the Russian and the American families). As their marriage falters (he enjoys other women options), his wife begins to develop a relationship with the illegitimate son (who is politically active in Labor too). Neither young man nor this woman know about the 1/2 brother connection yet. The reader is beginning to think "gads this is a bit weird and improbable". Well, it gets more so. When the good son (illegitimate) is behind enemy lines and blowing up German trains, the playboy son (legitimate) is a fighter pilot for the RAF. He attacks the train that is getting blown up. Hidden big guns on the train begin to shoot and get a hit on the plane. It crashes off to the distant. The good son goes over to see if he can help his fellow Brit soldier and it is half brother who is dying. By then the 2 knew of each other, and the dying brother tells the good brother something like "take the bitch" (meaning, you can have my wife). Then he croaks. I had to knock a star off for that 1 in a million encounter - which took my attention away from buying everything else in the novel and getting sucked in to a great read.