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Two Brothers Hardcover – 2012

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam Press (2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0593062051
  • ISBN-13: 978-0593062050
  • Product Dimensions: 15.8 x 4.4 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (741 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 163,885 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

4.7 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

86 of 93 people found the following review helpful By Kate TOP 500 REVIEWER on 9 Nov. 2012
Format: Hardcover
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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Secret Spi on 17 Mar. 2015
Format: Paperback
I can see that this book has had lots of positive reviews, and I know that Ben Elton has plenty of fans, so I appreciate that I am in the minority with a two-star review. I will try and explain my reasons for my rating.

Unfortunately for me, there were serious flaws in the way the story was written. Other reviewers have pointed out the modern (London) dialogue which doesn't just grate and annoy, but destroys any feeling of authenticity and put me off most of the characters rather than feeling for them. I'm talking about dialogue such as "Blimey, Otts, mate..." or "Ottster told him to f*** off" - all the "babes" and "guys" and f- and c-words. The dialogue is a symptom of a general problem. Although Ben Elton has researched his facts (well, most of them), he does not seem to have steeped himself in the culture of that time and place, so that I got the feeling I was reading about 21st century London teenagers transplanted into 1930s Berlin.

As far as the facts go, the author takes the historical framework then hangs his characters' lives onto it, rather than starting with the characters and seeing how their lives are influenced by the historical events. I suppose it is one way of writing a historical novel, but it often feels forced. One example is Wolfgang's visit to Munich to see the exhibition of "degenerate Art". Without giving too much away, I very much doubt that a man in Wolfgang's physical, mental and financial state at that point would have done that.

This history itself is described in a simplistic, black and white, way. I thought maybe it would be a good book for children or young teens, but the swearing counts that out. The overall effect is like having a foul-mouthed history teacher shout at you.
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82 of 90 people found the following review helpful By Maryom on 12 Nov. 2012
Format: Hardcover
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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57 of 64 people found the following review helpful By C. E. Utley TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 26 Nov. 2012
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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