All That I Am by Anna Funder Readalong – Week 2

Week 2 of the readalong – to be honest, I was dreading this as the first third was slow and monotonous. I was determined to read 40 pages a day over the weekend to try and get this ‘done’ so I could pick up a more exciting book to read.

But guess what? It started to pick up quite a bit – in fact, as soon as Part 2 started. Once the characters begin to flee Germany, things get more interesting even though I can’t quite put my finger on why – they are doing pretty much the same activities as they were in Germany. Perhaps it’s because the characters are already established and we get more of an idea of the frictions and failings of each (interesting to note than Hans fails so miserably in London when he was riding high as one of Germany’s most outspoken journalists).

Why do Dora and Hans fight so? It’s almost like she is bullying him, reminding him of just how useless he is, never one of the big agitators…Is there a ‘Past’ between them? Is it jealousy or the thought that Ruth could have ‘done better’?

I still find Toller hard to work out though – I wish he would just get on that boat, do something besides thinking back to the time in London with Dora… (although that wouldn’t make for much of a story!) He seems to know that he has failings, but almost revels in the lost hope of them! I really hope that Clara does not become seduced by him (although I have my doubts as Toller’s secretary in New York has a fictional name…).

The history also becomes more sinister in this section, with Germans being deported from London. It’s an interesting juxtaposition to what is happening with Toller, as he’s guarded by Scotland Yard (and possibly watched by the Germans). The trial was effectively ineffective and the characters seem back where they started – lacking in funds with no certain direction. Except for Dora – she definitely knows a lot more, what with her locked cupboard and professor!

Towards the end of this section, I found myself having to force myself to read this book again. It will be interesting to see if anything (or nothing) becomes of Hans – I feel sorry for him, although he doesn’t make it easy for himself, he tries! I think I’ve guessed the ultimate ending (it wasn’t hard to guess) and it will be interesting if the characters meet the fates I think they have in store. I purposefully haven’t read anything about the ‘real’ characters as I prefer to be surprised.

As for being worthy of the award… I think I’m going to leave that can of worms alone. This book isn’t my cup of tea, but it may certainly be others. There’s a lot of research done and the writing is powerful, if not page turning.

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2 responses to “All That I Am by Anna Funder Readalong – Week 2

  1. That’s a really interesting review, I like the way you describe feeling conflicted about the book! I hope there will be more riveting parts still ahead :)

  2. I read Stasiland earlier this year, and although that’s reportage, it was written in such a detached way that I found it slightly hard going, even boring, although always fascinating. Sounds like this novel has similarities of style… not one for me.

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