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Winter Games by Rachel Johnson

Winter Games (edition 2012)

by Rachel Johnson

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193537,190 (2.83)2
Title:Winter Games
Authors:Rachel Johnson
Info:Fig Tree (2012), Hardcover, 336 pages
Collections:Amazon Vine, Acquired 2013, Read 2013, Read but unowned, Not kept, Historical Fiction

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Winter Games by Rachel Johnson



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I was disappointed in this book, which I disliked more and more as I read it. There are two parallel stories, one set in 1936 where young English girls hang out with Nazis in Bavaria, and another set in 2006 where a granddaughter wants to find out what happened to her grandmother (the protagonist of the historical sections).

The modern day story especially is exclusively populated by deeply unpleasant characters -- and even the main protagonist, Francie, is self-absorbed and horrible, with no real personality. The author wants us to sneer at the extravagance of rich people, while at the same time describing all their possessions and houses in loving detail. Thus we end up with twaddle like "it was as if giving away more of other people's money made them [bankers, brokers and fund managers] feel better about having helped themselves to so much of it. Their largesse extended to their trophy wives -- gym bunnies nibbling on a crumb of gluten-free pecan brownie between Pilates and their child's tennis lesson -- or their nubile girlfriends." What a depressing picture of humanity, or perhaps just North London, where all these horrible people (Francie, her boring advertising husband, her odious boss, her snarky best friend...) live.

The 1930s sections were better, except the protagonist Daphne isn't very dynamic, she just lets things happen around her while staring gormlessly. Frustratingly, I could tell there was a really interesting story about debutante English girls and their families enjoying Nazi Germany before the war, and their subsequent guilt after the war, but it didn't come to life here. And such a story doesn't need an unwanted pregnancy subplot.

The cover is nice. ( )
  Yarrow | Mar 3, 2013 |
I was drawn to this dual time frame novel by the setting of the historical story in 1930s Germany. Daphne has been sent there by her father to improve her German and get her out of the way - although she is initially reluctant the trip offers possibilities for a fun adventure.

Seventy years later, a travel journalist called Francie is drawn to try and find out what actually happened to her grandmother, now in residential care and not really able to tell her own story.

Daphne is from an assimilated Jewish family and I was intrigued by a story about her visit to Nazi Germany. Several other issues offer plenty of scope for a good read, but this was a rather disappointing novel. The narrative flowed easily enough and I read it quickly, but I never really got a sense of any of the characters - even Daphne and Francie remained two dimensional and some of the other people in the book weren't even that, and that made it hard for me to care what happened in the story. ( )
1 vote elkiedee | Feb 21, 2013 |
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Munich, 1936. She doesn't know it, but 18-year-old Daphne Linden has a seat in the front row of history. Along with her best friend, Betsy Barton-Hill, and a whole bevy of other young English upper-class girls, Daphne is in Bavaria to improve her German, to go to the Opera, to be 'finished'. It may be the Third Reich, but another war is unthinkable, and the girls are having the time of their lives. Aren't they?… (more)

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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141048697, 0141038896

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