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The Iron Necklace by Giles Waterfield
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The Iron Necklace

by Giles Waterfield

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The Iron Necklace is a sweeping family saga that takes us between England and Germany through WW1 and beyond.
It’s not a story about the war itself but about the lives of those at home, being it England or Germany, everyone suffered and life was altered forever.
The Benson and Curtius families invited me into their homes and their lives. I was privy to their inner most thoughts. I instantly liked the Benson family. Their lives weren’t busy, dramatic or extraordinary but they were interesting in their ordinariness, which made it all more believable.

The story is told in two different time frames but it is easy to adapt to the changes as the writing style changes with the different eras. It was quite daring telling a story in the past also intermingled with a story in the present reminiscing on the past. While the descendants of Irene are reminiscing small amounts of information are given out that reflect on the main story. This did not put me off, it just made me more eager to read on.

I initially thought I would drag through the 400+ pages but I wanted more, more of Sophia, her husband and her family, more of Irene.

With spies, betrayals and jaw dropping secrets, this war time family saga is not to be missed.

With thanks to Allen & Unwin for my uncorrected proof copy to read and review. ( )
  Ronnie293 | May 27, 2015 |
The Bensons are a wealthy London family about to celebrate the society wedding of Irene Benson to an idealistic young German architect Thomas Curtius (pre WWI). Irene is a developing artist. She moves to Germany to be with her husband. A few short years later war is imminent and Irene must decide whether to stay in Germany with her husband or flee to her family before it is too late. She does her duty and stays in Germany, where life is very difficult for an Englishwoman.

This is not just the story of Irene. Her brother Mark and sister Sofia also feature in a large way in the book. Mark works as a diplomat throughout the war. This entails him travelling around, playing nice with people in foreign countries. He also makes some interesting friends.

Sofia is my favourite character. She is young and beautiful and in order to do her bit for her country she becomes a nurse during the war. She is assigned duty caring for the wounded enemy. Sofia is a complex character and has some very definite ideas.

This was quite a good book. It does jump around a lot. There is a lot of German conversation in some parts of the book with no glossary for guidance. I found this a bit frustrating. I just had a bit of a guess about what was happening. There are also a lot of characters which took me a while to get straight, but once I sorted out who was connected to who and how it was much better reading. ( )
  Roro8 | Mar 24, 2015 |
A beautifully written family drama set during World War I. It begins with the wedding of a young and wealthy English woman to a German architect in 1910. The story follows them through their lives and their respective families' lives as they learn to cope with the advent of the war and its aftermath.

I really enjoyed the style of writing and how the tale is told. The chapters are all quite short, which I think kept the momentum of the story going. It was very interesting to read about the ordinary person's life on both sides of the fence in England and Germany. It's very much a character based narrative, all of whom I thought were realistic and totally believable.

This is not a fast paced novel. It's a gentle, sympathetic, intuitive and absorbing tale about people and their foibles. It's about loyalty and patriotism, but most of all it's about family. I loved it!

Many thanks to Real Readers for giving me the opportunity to read and review The Iron Necklace. I look forward to reading more by Giles Waterfield. Will there be a sequel, please? ( )
  VanessaCW | Feb 17, 2015 |
The Iron Necklace – Giles Waterfield

This was one of those rare novels where you were swiftly sucked into the narrative almost from the very first word. I’ve often wondered what the conditions are for this to happen as some novels take several pages, even chapters. to truly ‘get into’ it. It isn’t down to any particular writer or style I don’t think, it just seems to be ‘one of those things’. A fusion between the psyche of writer and reader for that particular piece of work, if you will. I love it when it happens and of course it bodes well for the entire story.
I so enjoyed this book. The writer is a known art expert so it was no surprise that art was almost an extra character within the story without being overly dominant.
The First World War is very much in peoples’ minds from last year’s centenary and it’s almost a brave move to publish a book after that event so to speak. But what is interesting to me here is to question whether the events of this fiction are directly as a result of a war between two nations or the actual personalities and makeup of the people involved. I guess you could argue that there’s a bit of both and therein lies the strength of this novel. It is more than just a WWI story; it’d more than just a family saga. If Thomas and Irene had both been British would their ultimate situation have been the same and vice versa, if they were both German. One can only conjecture.
It’s a beautifully paced novel with a flowing narrative and the writer entrusts his readers with enough savvy to learn about his characters before the characters themselves do! I think particularly of Mark Benson, here.
If I have any beef with the book it is the decision to change fonts when the time scale changed. Because there it felt that the readers; integrity was underestimated. It was as if the writer had assumed that his poor reader could not possible figure out for themselves that we had a different time scale and a different generation commenting. But it’s a small beef and possibly can be entered into the category of nit picking. And really, this book doesn’t deserve it. I really, really enjoyed it. ( )
  shizz | Jan 26, 2015 |
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