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Miranda Seymour, author of the award-winning In My Father's House has written many acclaimed novels and biographies, including lives of Mary Shelley, Robert Graves, Ottoline Morrell and Helle Nice, the Bugatti Queen.
Miranda Seymour is dismayed by the fact that nearly 70 years after the end of the Second World War the popular media still play on a negative image of the Germans. She has collected a large number of stories of friendly, mutually admiring and/or creative encounters and also marriages between Britons and Germans from 1613 onwards. Some of these are well-known: literary figures, artists, diplomats and politicians; but the majority of them are not. We are introduced to a plethora of unfamiliar individuals. Miranda Seymour is an experienced writer of fiction, non-fiction and children's books; so it is surprising that here her writing is in a few places dense to the point of near-indigestibility as we are swamped with names and with relationships which are hard to remember: an appendix with a few family trees or an expansion of the individual index entries would have been very helpful. Elsewhere the book is more readable, and there are many anecdotes, some amusing, some sad, some touching.
The author knows a great deal about the lives of her characters and feels compelled to spill out everything she knows, so much so that there is a frequent loss of focus on the book's theme, Anglo-German relations; and I also think there is sometimes more detail about political events than is needed. The book is something of a mishmash of high politics and private lives.
The heyday of friendly feelings between the two countries was the period between the late 1790s and 1880s. A large number of Germans actually came to live in Britain - in the 1840s there were some 30,000 German immigrants: workers many of whom spoke no English, and of course middle and upper-class Germans who were attracted to a country ruled by a German dynasty.Lesen Sie weiter... ›
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Interesting, but somewhat flawed9. November 2015
- Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
This book has way too many stories and a lot of superfluous detail! I think the focus of the book often gets lost. Definitely needs some sort of character list to refer back to. And while the premise of the book is interesting, charting the relationship both culturally and politically between Germany and Britain, somehow the relationship becomes an end in and of itself. And can someone explain this statement to me. "perhaps it was still more valiant [read 'noble' here,] of Pevsner to continue, until the eve of the war, to defend the very regime [Nazi Germany!] that had deprived him of his livlihood, his academic status...and his homeland." (The words in brackets are mine). She goes on to say that his loyalty to Hitler and Nazi Germany was "heroic" and "does not disgrace him." I think for some of us, that claim is a little hard to take. There may have been some improvements in Germany with the Nazis, but at a huge and terrible price (and that was becoming apparent by 1939!).
While I have always felt that it is a shame to reduce Germany to 12 ignoble years, it is quite understandable that given Germany's role in the destruction of millions of people, that many of us would find it difficult to resurrect her former glory. This country still has a lot to answer to, even 70 years on. But there has always been a connection between these two great nations, and it is certainly interesting to explore it.