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Two Brothers [Hardcover]

Ben Elton
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (604 customer reviews)
RRP: £18.99
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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 (604 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 111,590 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
By Kate TOP 500 REVIEWER
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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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
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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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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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good ideas but an average read. 5 Aug 2013
Format:Hardcover
I was given this book as a present and expected the worst. I'd liked most of Elton's early novels, but had stopped reading at Past Mortem, where he seemed to just be trying to satirise the latest trend and his writing was becoming cliched. His recent BBC1 sitcom also had me despairing, and the thought of a 500+ page novel by him on a weighty theme filled me with dread, even though I was hoping, as much for his sake as for mine, that this would be a book to prove his critics wrong.

As it is, this was a mixed bag of a book for me. The first 100 pages were slow going as you wait for a hint of a plot amongst all of the scene setting, and also despair about the dialogue which has so many words, expletives, and phrases that are completely out of place in the time period.

After that however, it got going and I was hooked. The depiction of the destruction of Germany and the persecution of Jews during the early years of Hitler's regime, were compelling reading, capturing the overall effect and taking it down to a very individual and human level. The parallel story set in 1956 was also intriguing, making me want to know what had happened to the Stengel family and the other members of the Saturday Club since the 1930s. Only the dialogue was still jarring, with Elton's attempts at West Indies dialogue coming across as particularly ill-conceived, unconvincing and frankly embarrasing. But aside from that, I now really wanted to read on.

Unfortunately, the last 150 or so pages were also a bit of a letdown. The two brothers obsession with one girl (Dagmar) and their willingness to do anything for her, including throw away their own lives, didn't really convince as there was nothing to make her seem like the sort of person people would do that for.
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