Cold and Chilling, The World Is

Review of Winter Of The World; Ken Follett; Penguin 2012; Rs 399; pp 940

– Shana Susan Ninan

If Fall of Giants was the foundation of Ken Follett’s Century Trilogy, Winter Of The World forms a strong platform where the characters have grown, and events have shaped their lives – for good and bad – and of course, the world has been through another war. This fiction novel, the second in the series, takes the readers to the next generation of people – from Russia and Germany to Wales and America. The master storytellers weaves his work with poise and acumen, often making the reader feel she is in the thick of things – whether it’s a riot on a German street, or a ruthless killing in a concentration camp. Follett’s carefully worded pages evokes many memories of the WWII, for those who have fought in it, and anguish and fear for those who’ve only read about it.

After the First World War is over, and the Great Depression is at a peak, the Germans are waiting for a saviour to help them up from the dumps. Hitler arrives at the scene, promising to vanquish the enemies and save his fatherland from poverty and unemployment. In the process, he also undertakes to kill Jews, who are wealthier and more successful than the Germans, and to make sure that non-Aryans and coloured people are fatally dealt with. Ken touches upon the dictator’s atrocities where he terminates handicapped people, old men and women, and all those who are a burden to the country, requiring much money in medicines and care.

The war changes the lives of the five-interrelated families. The Dewar sons pursue their own dreams, one joins the navy and the other is caught in the middle of it. Having come to America, Lev Peshkov reaches several heights die to his terrible ruthlessness and steady and bullish perseverance. That he does so by neutralising his foes and peers is another matter. But he gets a dose of his own medicine when he realises his ambitious son Greg Peshkov following in his footsteps!

The Peshkovs in Russia are entangled in the policies Stalin scripts for his state and people, with the secret police and Red Army carrying on carnage in their own ways and means. The Fitzherberts lose their son in the war and the Williams have been through a worldwide – in fighting and in politics. The von Ulrich family in Germany seems to be the one that suffered the blows of the wars the most, physically and mentally. Historical events, from the Burning of the Reichstag, rise of Hitler, Nazi Germany, the Spanish Civil War, WWII, the attack on Pearl harbour and the Cold War, as well as historic figures such as Winston Churchill, Roosevelt and Harry Truman give credible sustenance to the fictional families and events.

Like in his previous novels, Ken churns out intense and resilient female characters. Ethel Williams is a little more “settled” than in the first part, but still fierce. Daisy Peshkov is constantly trying to upgrade her social standing is keen as to who she’s seen with. Including dancing with the king, in London, once. But the ugly war and her part in it humanises her to a point.  And, Maud and her daughter Carla von Ulrich go through hell, just to keep their family going, amid war and fascist uprising.

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Rating: 10.0/10 (3 votes cast)
Cold and Chilling, The World Is, 10.0 out of 10 based on 3 ratings

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This entry was posted on Friday, December 21st, 2012 at 11:45 am and is filed under Historical Fiction, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

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