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3.16  ·  Rating details ·  123 ratings  ·  17 reviews
1945. At the end of the Second World War, a young mother loses her two-year-old boy in the bombings of Berlin. She flees to the south, where her father finds among the refugee trains a young foundling of the same age to replace his grandson. He makes his daughter promise never to tell anyone, including her husband--still fighting on the Russian front--that the boy is not h ...more
Paperback, 262 pages
Published July 1st 2008 by Fourth Estate (GB) (first published 2006)
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Judith Only how events in present day Germany can still effect lives after so long. Otherwise, the writing was dull and sentences were predictable so often. …moreOnly how events in present day Germany can still effect lives after so long. Otherwise, the writing was dull and sentences were predictable so often. Not an entertaing read by any means, (less)

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“Disguise” is a poignantly precise title for a novel focused on the various personae our selves consist of.

Sliding smoothly over several decades from the protagonist’s early childhood in World War II, his youth and elderly age, this account is rich in events, but clearly dominated by reminiscence and questioning. Despite some forceful wartime images and lyrical still-life shots, the plot pivots around a deeply personal matter: the protagonist’s pursuit of his own possibly lost identity and the
Ingrid Fasquelle
Texte austère sur un sujet grave, Comme Personne s'ouvre sur un champ de ruines dans le Berlin dévasté de la fin de la Seconde Guerre mondiale. C'est là que vit Maria Liedmann, là qu'elle assiste à la fin tragique de Gregor, son fils unique de 3 ans, emporté dans son sommeil pendant un bombardement. Maria décide alors de quitter cette ville, qui n'est autre que le tombeau de son fils et où plus rien ne la retient désormais. Elle rejoint son père, Emil, en route pour le Sud de l'Allemagne, où ils ...more
Dec 10, 2008 rated it really liked it
I thought this book was pretty damn close to brilliant. It is set in the aftermath of the Holocaust and centers on the life of one man, Gregor, who was a small child during the war and who was raised by his Christian parents in Southern Germany. When he is a teenager, Gregor is told by a family friend that he is not actually the biological child of his parents - that, in fact, the "real" Gregor was killed as a young boy when a bomb hit his home in Berlin and that, in fact, Gregor was a Jewish bo ...more
Oct 02, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Such an amazing book! Catching style of writing and you start thining about your own identity. Loved it!
Mitchell Waldman
Mar 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
An interesting well-written book. The first book I've read by this author. One of the problems I encountered was that the first chapter was so engaging and well-written that the second and those that followed seemed to fall flat. The premise being -- and this is no surprise, given away in that very first chapter -- is that a boy dies in a bomb raid on Berlin in WWII and is substituted by another boy, perhaps a Jewish orphan, under a deep and unwavering secret, leaving the boy wondering throughou ...more
I was impressed by the writer's thorough and pervasive insight into this chapter of German history, which is known as The Zero Hour, right after WW II ended, and how the damage done by the Nazis has shaped the survivors for decades to come. Even though he has a German mother, Hamilton was born and raised in Ireland. Nevertheless, his understanding of the emotional turmoil in post-war Germany is profound and stirring. In this respect, the novel is quite a feat.
However, I never quite warmed up to
Mar 02, 2009 rated it really liked it
This was an interesting story taking place at the end of WWII. A young mother loses her child in a bombing in Berlin and finds a child of the same age who has been separated from his Jewish parents. She raised him as her own and keeps the secret. Like most secrets, they come to light at some point and the boy spends his life trying to fit in, find out who he really is all the time his mother who raised him denies the truth.

It was very interesting to see the war from the standpoint of the German
Nov 11, 2016 rated it did not like it
Very "real" story. The flashbacks and crossing over of generations going from the main character's grandfather and father who had suffered during WWII, down to children and grandchildren using cell phones is interesting: Time seems to be flexible. It is basically a post-war novel with some of its ramifications: identity seeking, how to cope with trauma, return, loss, silence and secrets.
Mar 05, 2013 rated it liked it
Very disappointing after the brilliance of his memoir, The Speckled People. Badly structured - too much undigested 'history' (albeit fascinating), 2D characters, and weak resolution. Hugo can write, but he needs a good editor!
Patricia Bracewell
This is a tale set in post WWII Germany written by a man with a German mother/Irish father. He grew up in Ireland and was allowed to speak only Gaelic, and his struggles with his own sense of identity are reflected in this novel.
Jun 01, 2012 rated it liked it
Fiction book about a boy in WWII who may or may not be a German or a Jewish survivor. Good writing, but not as good as the two memoirs by this Irish/German author.
Brian Harrison
Mar 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
Well written, with interesting character, and an intriguing timeline.
Ciaran Mcfadden
Nov 14, 2012 rated it liked it
Strange kind of book from Hugo Hamilton. Struggled through to the end, but not a book I particularly enjoyed. Just seemed to have no real sense of direction and storyline wasn't that interesting.
Oct 05, 2011 rated it liked it

1 The theory that only the self exists, or can be proved to exist.
2 Extreme preoccupation with and indulgence of one's feelings, desires, etc.; egoistic self-absorption.
Nov 06, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
It is taking me entirely too long to read this book, which leads me to believe I don't really like it even thought I think I like it.
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Hugo Hamilton is an Irish writer.

Hamilton's mother was a German who travelled to Ireland in 1949 for a pilgrimage, married an Irishman, and settled in the country. His father was a militant nationalist who insisted that his children should speak only German or Irish, but not English, a prohibition the young Hugo resisted inwardly. "The prohibition against English made me see that language as a cha

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