mercredi 5 novembre 2014

Edge of Eternity by Ken Follett

EDGE OF ETERNITY is the sweeping, passionate conclusion to Ken Follett’s extraordinary historical epic, The Century Trilogy.

Throughout these books, Follett has followed the fortunes of five intertwined families – American, German, Russian, English, and Welsh – as they make their way through the twentieth century. Now they come to one of the most tumultuous eras of all: the enormous social, political, and economic turmoil of the 1960s through the 1980s, from civil rights, assassinations, mass political movements and Vietnam to the Berlin Wall, the Cuban Missile Crisis, presidential impeachment, revolution – and rock and roll.

East German teacher Rebecca Hoffman discovers she’s been spied on by the Stasi for years and commits an impulsive act that will affect her family for the rest of their lives.…George Jakes, the child of a mixed-race couple, bypasses a corporate law career to join Robert F. Kennedy’s Justice Department, and finds himself in the middle not only of the seminal events of the civil rights battle, but a much more personal battle of his own.…Cameron Dewar, the grandson of a senator, jumps at the chance to do some official and unofficial espionage for a cause he believes in, only to discover that the world is a much more dangerous place than he’d imagined.…Dimka Dvorkin, a young aide to Nikita Khrushchev, becomes a prime agent both for good and for ill as the United States and the Soviet Union race to the brink of nuclear war, while his twin sister, Tania, carves out a role that will take her from Moscow to Cuba to Prague to Warsaw – and into history.

As always with Follett, the historical background is brilliantly researched and rendered, the action fast-moving, the characters rich in nuance and emotion. With the hand of a master, he brings us into a world we thought we knew but now will never seem the same again.

Ken Follett’s sweeping Century trilogy has been a must read for me ever since the first book came out a few years ago. A hugely ambitious undertaking (telling the story of the 20th century through the eyes of a handful of families), the trilogy has been a potent mixture of historical fiction, thriller, romance, saga and coming-of-age tale. I’ve loved the other two books and had been waiting impatiently for the final instalment to be released. So I was delighted to hear that Edge of Eternity was being released at the end of this year and it was placed firmly at the top of my TBR. 

Edge of Eternity does a great job of wrapping up the threads laid down in the last books, as the first generation explored in Fall of Giants give way to the younger. For many of those characters, we see them shuffle off the stage, while their children, grand-children and even great grand-children step up and shoulder the burden. Although a large part of the book centres on the Cold War, especially the effect the Iron Curtain and Berlin Wall has on the families, Follett also explores the Cuban Missile Crisis, Kennedy’s assassination, the Civil Rights movement and the rise of the liberal agenda (gay rights being one of the themes explored). Through a couple of his characters, he also delves into an integral part of society in the second part of the 20th century – the rock star. 

Once again, Follett manages to juggle a huge number of characters with aplomb, giving each of them distinct personalities, stories and lives, though the huge canvas does stop him from giving them as much depth as he might have otherwise. I loved it from beginning to end, especially enjoying his portrayal of Kennedy and Johnson – Follett makes it clear that Kennedy was much less interested in civil rights at the beginning than he would later be considered to have been and that Johnson, despite his numerous mistakes, did a lot for the movement in his first few months in office. A great, sweeping portrayal of a tumultuous few decades, Edge of Eternity is great historical fiction done well.

I gave Edge of Eternity 4 stars.

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