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Two Brothers [Hardcover]

Ben Elton
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (585 customer reviews)
RRP: 18.99
Price: 15.19 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

8 Nov 2012

Berlin 1920

Two babies are born.

Two brothers. United and indivisible, sharing everything. Twins in all but blood.

As Germany marches into its Nazi Armageddon, the ties of family, friendship and love are tested to the very limits of endurance. And the brothers are faced with an unimaginable choice....Which one of them will survive?

Ben Elton's most personal novel to date,Two Brothers transports the reader to the time of history's darkest hour.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam Press (8 Nov 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0593062051
  • ISBN-13: 978-0593062050
  • Product Dimensions: 24 x 16 x 4.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (585 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 126,732 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Ben Elton is one of Britain's most provocative and entertaining writers. From celebrity to climate change, from the First World War to the end of the world, his books give his unique perspective on some of the most controversial topics of our time.

He has written twelve major bestsellers, including Stark, Popcorn, Inconceivable (filmed as Maybe Baby, which he also directed), Dead Famous, High Society (WH Smith People's Choice Award 2003) and The First Casualty.

He has also written some of television's most popular and incisive comedy, including The Young Ones, Blackadder and The Man From Auntie. His stage work includes three West End plays and the hit musicals The Beautiful Game and We Will Rock You.

He is married with three children.

Product Description

Book Description

A deeply poignant novel set in Berlin between 1920 and 1945

About the Author

Ben Elton is one our most provocative and entertaining writers, author of thirteen internationally bestselling novels. His multi-award-winning TV credits include The Young Ones, Blackadder and Mr Bean. His stage hits include the Olivier Award winner Popcorn and the global phenomenon We Will Rock You.

Ben, his wife Sophie, and their three children divide their time between their homes in Australia and the UK.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
71 of 78 people found the following review helpful
It's 1920 and two baby boys are born in Berlin. Paulus and Otto are brothers, the twin sons of devoted and happy parents Frieda Stengel, a doctor, and her musician husband Wolfgang. As they grow, the two boys share everything in common except for one thing - blood. While this doesn't matter in the least to their family, as the years go by it starts to matter very much indeed. This is because on the same night that the boys are born, another life screams into existence in Berlin, the National Socialist German Workers Party, and Frieda and Wolfgang are Jewish. Over the next twenty years, each covered in compelling and heart wrenching detail in this fine novel, we watch as their human rights are eroded one by one until, finally, the brothers have to use all their wits to survive.

This isn't just the tale of Otto and Paulus, though. Two Brothers is an immensely rich and captivating portrayal of the lives of many of the family's friends, relatives and colleagues, some Jewish, some not Jewish, but all compelled to play a part in the Nazi hell that is consuming their country and city. The stories of Otto and Paulus are entwined completely with those of two girls: Silke,a Christian, and Dagmar Fischer, a rich Jewish girl. The four children form the Saturday Club. As they grow into teenagers and young adults, this Club takes on a whole new significance and the ties between them become lifelines.

Years ago I remember reading Ben Elton's novels (particularly Stark and Gridlock) while both enjoying and being irritated by his stand-up humour during those hard years in the 1980s. Any doubts as to the pathos and tragedy that Ben Elton can instil into his humour were dispelled by Blackadder. Those same qualities are perfected in Two Brothers.
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82 of 90 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Little bit of historical satire? 12 Nov 2012
By Maryom
Two Brothers is a deeply moving, thought provoking look at life for a Jewish family in inter-war Germany. What makes this particular family different is that one of their twin boys has been adopted - and actually isn't Jewish. When the Nazis start to divide the country into 'true' Germans and 'others', the family find themselves faced with a terrible dilemma - which of their boys should be saved? It's a real page-turner, more serious than I would have expected from Ben Elton but not without its moments of bleak humour.
- and, in case you wondered, No it's not a little bit of political satire.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Just terrible 7 May 2014
By booksy
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I've read a number of Ben Elton's books in the past and thought they were fantastic - Gridlocked and This Other Eden I recall enjoying very much (although I was about sixteen at the time and I'm 41 now - so either my literary taste has developed or Elton's just fallen short with this book).

My main gripe - one which meant I couldn't progress beyond 20% on the Kindle was the clumsy writing, in particular the dialogue. It made it almost impossible to warm to the characters. Now I'm not a stickler for historical accuracy when reading historical novels - I'm willing to forgive the odd slip up or modern turn of phrase. However, the characters in this novel simply didn't speak how one would imagine people living in 1920's Berlin would. For example, 'tits and ass'. Ass ... surely a modern, American expression? And Wolfgang referring to his wife as 'babe'. Surely not. If I was reading a modern German novel that had been translated, then I could accept 'babe' - I'm sure there is a German equivalent. However, I truly doubt whether German men in the 1920s used this as a term of endearment. I've read novels in the past that pull in some of the native terms, such as someone referring to their mother as 'mama', rather than maybe 'mum' which gives a feel of the place. Why couldn't Elton have done this? Yet, ironically, a West Indian character spoke totally in that parlance e.g. 'No classes dis mornin' though so I been doin' some readin'...' My goodness - strike a balance. It's gone from the sublime to the ridiculous. On the one hand people in the 1920s speak like 21st century folk and yet other characters become mere parodies of real people due to an over-use of dialect. It doesn't make for an easy read.

I have to agree with those reviewers who say the writing is somewhat simplistic.
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50 of 56 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Remarkably Good Novel 26 Nov 2012
By C. E. Utley TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I must start with a confession. I embarked on this book fearing I would find it tedious. I'm not sure why. My guess is that I had a sort of instinct that yet another novel about the appalling treatment of Jews in Germany in the thirties and during the war would be too bleak and depressing.

Of course, there is a lot to be depressed about in the book. It would not be possible to produce a remotely accurate book on this subject without its being depressing. But Elton understands that bleak subjects can only be borne by readers if humour is included. It may seem odd to someone who has not read this novel, but knows its subject matter, to be told that this reader sometimes laughed out loud when reading it.

And then there is the fact that this is a love story, even more than a story about the Holocaust. The relationship, from very early childhood, of Otto, Paulus, Dagmar and Silke is beautifully described. Each of those characters is extraordinarily well drawn. One adores each and becomes infuriated with each at regular intervals.

The jumps between the pre-war and war years on the one hand and the 1950s on the other work extremely well. Who is Stone, we ask ourselves for at least half of the book. And we give different answers at different stages. But we know we won't be sure until the answer is finally revealed.

Maybe it was hard of me to give the book only four, not five, stars. But I must explain my decision. And I acknowledge I may be quite wrong. It just seemed to me that the portrayal of ordinary German men and women was sometimes too cruel. Elton's account suggests that, almost overnight, pretty well every non-Jew German became a violent Jew-hater. Is it really possible that all Germans were as evil as he suggests?
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars I love it
What a brilliant book. Sad, funny and so easy to read, I literally couldn’t put it down.
Published 6 hours ago by G. Rose
5.0 out of 5 stars and Elton was good at describing how this happened
Having read most of Ben Elton's comic novels (albeit a long while ago) it was with some trepidation that I started this novel, as it was clear there was little lightness to be had... Read more
Published 1 day ago by KateP
4.0 out of 5 stars Very moving!
Great book,quite a challenge to carry on reading through tears. It is good to remember the past and to listen to are Grandparents and parents.
Published 6 days ago by Suzy D Ward
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Excellent book, gripping from the very start. Very well researched. Kept my interest all through.
Published 7 days ago by Brenda Gordon
3.0 out of 5 stars A good yarn but could be better.
Having read Ben Elton's book, The First Casualty, I was looking forward to Two Brothers. I found the book really gripping and read it in record time, however I have several... Read more
Published 11 days ago by Mike.M
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Good read
Published 13 days ago by Dieter Jaenicke
4.0 out of 5 stars A good read!
Although one was aware of the situation in Hitlers Germany between the wars, I enjoyed it very much. It was a page-turner!
Published 18 days ago by Mrs J Hepple
5.0 out of 5 stars Put it on your reading list!
What a fantastic book. I had not read any Ben Elton for a number of years and this was chosen by my husband as a holiday read. Neither of us could put it down. Read more
Published 21 days ago by JO MURPHY
5.0 out of 5 stars Hard to read but difficult to stop
I struggled at the start and found I went days without picking the book up but then was unable to put it down. It is a difficult book to read. Read more
Published 22 days ago by shaz
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful storytelling
I absolutely loved this book. I did not think, as some others, that it was stilted and overburdened with historical notes. Read more
Published 22 days ago by L. J. Nicholson
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