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Two Brothers [Hardcover]

Ben Elton
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (511 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 (511 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 67,580 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
80 of 85 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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67 of 73 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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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quite honestly the best thing I ever read 7 Aug 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I've always been a fan of Ben Elton and his novels (bar Chart Throb) but this superb piece has trumped anything he's written previously and anything I've ever read. I have just completed this in 2 days such was the compelling page turning nature of the book. Set in 2 periods, primarily Berlin between the wars and London in 1956, the book flicks between the two times charting the events in the lives of the Stengel family, the Fischer family and the family of the fourth member of the Saturday club, Silke. The main premise is around the Stengel twins, one a natural born Jew, the other an adopted Jew joined to the Stengel family by both a tragedy at birth and a stroke of good fortune and extreme kindness. It then charts the struggles of the characters through 1930s Berlin as the society changes around them and they become pariahs as Germany succumbs to its brutal, cruel and misguided strong arm leadership. Elton builds the characters superbly, but colours the ambience of Berlin like a master painter,capturing the heady mix of sleaze and hedonism perfectly alongside the pragmatism and courage (sometimes rather stupid courage in Isaac Fischers case) of families seemingly barely aware of the impending peril bought on them by their faith. The London character of Paul Stone remains an enigmatic mystery until 75% of the novel has passed, even when that character lapses into an honourable but unwanted act of violence in a pub. I had genuine tears welling at the end, but even more so on reading Eltons own personal epilogue after the denouement of the novel, which in itself looks back into the novels events some 70 years previously. This is a serious book, light on humour, but it's a serious subject that opened my eyes to the events leading up to the power that became Nazi Germany. Read more ›
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46 of 51 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 Best book I've read in ages
Previously thought Ben Elton was a lightweight (but excellent) author, but this book was amazing, gripping, heavyweight... Read more
Published 2 days ago by alsion
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read
Read this for the second time and thoroughly enjoyed the book again. I can recommend Ben Elton's book to anyone who has an interest in WWII and Germany in particular.
Published 3 days ago by Tam-Tam
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting story let down by questionable prose
Felt this was a story with impressive ambition, let down by poor characterisation and prose. I felt little empathy with the main characters and some of the emotions and politics... Read more
Published 5 days ago by Louis Scott
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
After reading 'ROOM' and doubting I could follow that with anything, I found this book absolutely brilliant, moving, incredibly well written by a writer who I had thought of only... Read more
Published 6 days ago by Susan Breeden
5.0 out of 5 stars Good
Great book. Truly heart breaking. Could not put it down, no matter how hard I tried. Thoroughly enjoyed every second.
Published 9 days ago by Victoria Beards
5.0 out of 5 stars holiday
Must read - great book
Ben Elton at his finest - will read again - nice to have a different aspect good read
Published 11 days ago by Roz 12
5.0 out of 5 stars Surpringing
I never liked Ben Elton as a comedian but had heard and read various reviews of this book and I must say it was worth the reading. Read more
Published 11 days ago by Kathy Rowan
5.0 out of 5 stars Two Brothers
A great read couldn't put it down, it just shows what talented man Ben Elton is can't wait to read his next book
Published 12 days ago by G. Muir
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read
What a fab story. Brought alive the holocaust and shed light on human nature in such a compelling yet sensitive way. Every one must read this superb story.
Published 13 days ago by Happy Doc
5.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic read
This was definitely one of those books that I could not put down, it brought the past into such reality that it made you feel as if you were part of it
Published 14 days ago by Mrs Iris Presswell
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