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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A gripping story set during the Blitz
Arthur Rowe, a retired journalist, is the unlikely winner of a cake, the weight of which he correctly guessed during a charity fête patronized by The Free Mothers. For Rowe, the fête should have been an innocent trip back to childhood and innocence, a welcome chance to escape the terror of the Blitz and to forget twenty years of his past as a murderer. Instead he becomes...
Published on 28 Oct 2007 by HORAK

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Brooding...Never will a Village Cake Sale be the Same Again
Another Greene corker, though I felt it lost something at the end: it became a bit mechanical and 'neat.' However, the first three quarters of it is great on the brooding sense of menace, the Kafka-esque disorientation.
Published on 11 Sep 2008 by Frootle


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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A gripping story set during the Blitz, 28 Oct 2007
By 
HORAK (Zug, Switzerland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Ministry Of Fear: An Entertainment (Vintage Classics) (Paperback)
Arthur Rowe, a retired journalist, is the unlikely winner of a cake, the weight of which he correctly guessed during a charity fête patronized by The Free Mothers. For Rowe, the fête should have been an innocent trip back to childhood and innocence, a welcome chance to escape the terror of the Blitz and to forget twenty years of his past as a murderer. Instead he becomes a haunted man because he possesses a cake which was destined for somebody else. It turns out that the cake contains some poison - hyoscine - which nearly kills an innocent man called Poole. Then Rowe is involved in a séance with Mrs Bellairs, a fortune teller, and several other people during which a man called Cost is killed with Rowe's own knife. He manages to escape with the help of Willi Hilfe, an Austrian refugee. Next Rowe is accosted by a man called Fullove who specialises in eighteenth century landscape gardening books and who asks Rowe to help him carry his heavy suitcase to the Regal Court and to leave it there in the room of a certain Travers. A page guides Rowe to Mr Travers's room where Anna, Willi Hilfe's sister, is waiting. Soon after that, Rowe and Anna open the suitcase which contains no books but a bomb which goes off...
At this stage - the middle of the novel - the plot does not seem to make much sense but in the second part Mr Greene carefully assembles the pieces of the jigsaw so that by the end of the narrative the reader has a clear picture of the mystery. Reading the novel one realizes that war is like a bad dream in which familiar people appear in terrible and unlikely disguises and that nobody is to be trusted. That is the Ministry of Fear, the general atmosphere spread by the enemy so that one can't depend on a single soul. And then there is that other Ministry of Fear to which all who love belong since if one loves, one fears at the same time.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Slow Starting War/Detective/Conspiracy Story, 23 Jan 2007
By 
T. Watson "tobyjwatson" (Saltburn, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Ministry Of Fear: An Entertainment (Vintage Classics) (Paperback)
This book took me a lot longer to read than I would normally expect for such a short novel (only 220-odd pages).

It opens in Blitz-punished London with a guilt-ridden, socially disconnected man (Arthur Rowe) stumbling into the midst of a shadowy conspiracy of some kind. The novel then tells the story of the uncovering of the conspiracy and Rowe's attempt at reconnection with the world.

Greene's descriptions of the constant terror all of London's inhabitants had to deal with during the Blitz is reason enough for the price of admission. He gives a great human insight into life in a city under aerial attack, and opens ones eyes as to how terrible it must have been to live in one of the many cities in the UK, Europe or Japan that were punished during WW2. The statistics and historical accounts have suddenly taken on so much more meaning.

The difficulty with this novel is that the main character's disconnection with his world and his self absorption is so severe that it is quite tough to get into the meat of the story.

Once you get over this hurdle, however, you will enjoy a very well written story.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Haunting..., 7 Jun 2004
This review is from: The Ministry Of Fear: An Entertainment (Vintage Classics) (Paperback)
"There was something about a fete which drew Arthur Rowe irresistibly....."
It's now over ten years since I first read this book, but something about it haunts my memory, making me read and re-read it over and over again. Perhaps it is the dream like quality of Greene's prose, or the way he brings blitz torn London to life, or perhaps simply his portrayal of his protagonist, Arthur Rowe, an innocent lost and alone in a guilty world.
One of Greene's more obscure novels, well worth reading and, together with 'Brighton Rock', an ideal introduction to this writer's world.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Blitzed out Greene, 13 Oct 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: The Ministry Of Fear: An Entertainment (Vintage Classics) (Paperback)
What's great about this story is the setting. As a Londoner I feel I know the city, so I was intrigued to discover another London which Greene brilliantly conjors from the smoke and ashes of the blitz. The hero is an enigma, to the reader and himself. Being a civvie and convicted killer, he's about as remote from a war hero as you can get, so Greene twists the typical war-time tale. It is also a detective story, but one where the detective is also implicated in the crime. Well worth buying.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The cake, the Blitz, murder and claustrophobia-Mr Greene's emporium of words, 7 Sep 2013
This review is from: The Ministry Of Fear: An Entertainment (Vintage Classics) (Paperback)
This was a very good read. On the train an hour each morning on the way to work. Although born ten years after the conclusion of the Second World War, I can still remember England post war before the recovering sixties and Mr Greene captures the atmosphere of this very well. Austerity, the claustrophobic society where people conform because of the risk of shame; rather than stand out, or heaven forbid-appear "foreign". This is one of Graham Greene's more satisfying stories. Part whodunit, spy and crime novel. But what works for me is the sense of time and place. Reading this, I could imagine London under war and Blitz conditions and the characters remained credible and added to the story/plot and settings. I was absorbed and felt dusty and grimy sitting on the train. Recommended.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Brooding...Never will a Village Cake Sale be the Same Again, 11 Sep 2008
By 
Frootle (Canterbury, Kent) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Ministry Of Fear: An Entertainment (Vintage Classics) (Paperback)
Another Greene corker, though I felt it lost something at the end: it became a bit mechanical and 'neat.' However, the first three quarters of it is great on the brooding sense of menace, the Kafka-esque disorientation.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A superb book, 13 April 2014
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This review is from: The Ministry Of Fear: An Entertainment (Vintage Classics) (Paperback)
A perfect book: accessible, clever, beautifully written, evocative, tense, and quietly profound. A palpable sense of dread and unease runs throughout the story set in the early years of World War 2 in England, primarily London.

On one level the book is a simple story of espionage, fifth columnists, and a hapless man who gets caught up in things he does not understand however there is far more to it than that. The story, which starts at a sinister fete, and rattles along from the word go, also muses on innocence, patriotism, self-delusion, psychology, memory, complexity, love, deceit and heroism.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Ministry of Fear, 6 April 2014
By 
S Riaz "S Riaz" (England) - See all my reviews
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This novel has one of the best opening chapters of any novel I have ever read. Arthur Rowe is a repressed and guilt ridden man, living out the war in a London boarding house with little companionship. So, when he comes across a rather sad little wartime fete, he is eager to recall the memories of childhood it evokes. During the fete, a misunderstanding means that he wins a cake. However, the cake was never meant for him and his sudden lucky prize has consequences he could never have anticipated.

This book was published in 1943 and, in it, Graham Greene paints an evocative picture of a war weary population. Arthur Rowe is bombed more than once during the novel and many of the people he comes across have a furtive, nervous air about them. London has been reduced to almost a series of small villages, with people having to consider whether or not they have time to cross the city before the sirens go. However, the blitz is not the only problem Arthur Rowe faces. He finds that he possesses something that the Germans want and they will use any means to acquire it. In fear of his life, Rowe tries to investigate the organisers of the fete and meets Anna Hilfe and her brother Willi; Austrian refugees, who seem to believe his outlandish story.

Although, in essence, this is a story which has been told before – the innocent man who somehow becomes involved in espionage and murder- rarely has it been told as well as this. Despite the danger, Arthur Rowe is a man who gradually begins to engage with the world around him again. This is a disturbing novel in places; a tale of coming to terms with guilt, the weight of memory, of love and loyalty. Although the main character is mild-mannered and bookish, he has a disturbing past and is suddenly motivated to try to find a future. This is not one of Graham Green’s most talked about novels, but it deserves to be. As a novel of wartime, it is fascinating as a portrait of a city which is battered, but certainly not beaten and I am glad that I have discovered it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining? No, disturbing., 9 May 2013
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This review is from: The Ministry Of Fear: An Entertainment (Vintage Classics) (Paperback)
Anyone who knows the unsettling brave new worlds of Huxley and Orwell will wonder why Graham Greene's contribution to the 1940s literary exploration of fascism and mind-surveillance is not better-known.
This is a novel well-balanced between a good read and a fearful prognosis.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars dark and unforgettable, 16 Dec 2012
By 
tallmanbaby (Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Ministry Of Fear: An Entertainment (Vintage Classics) (Paperback)
I read this as a teenager, along with a huge variety of other books and thrillers, and it stuck in my mind as one of my favourites. Coming back to it twenty years later it is still an astoundingly good read.

Although Greene badged these books as 'entertainments' rather than serious novels, this is certainly no potboiler. It starts in memorably surreal fashion with an sinister fete in wartime London. The protagonist is wracked with Catholic guilt over the mercy killing of his wife, perhaps a little too wracked, while a familiar London is dissolving around them under the Blitz as familiar streets and landmarks vanish.

Greene is an astonishingly good writer, every page or two there is a notable observation or description. The book maintains a feverish pace, with its nightmarish logic, while the strength of the writing means that, as with Hitchcock, even low key scenes are tense and memorable.

There is a decent film by Fritz Lang, but this is one of the very best thrillers ever written, I cannot recommend it too highly.
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The Ministry Of Fear: An Entertainment (Vintage Classics)
The Ministry Of Fear: An Entertainment (Vintage Classics) by Graham Greene (Paperback - 5 July 2001)
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