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Customer Review

11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars "If you tuned out the Third Reich, it was all very Heidi", 4 Mar. 2013
This review is from: Winter Games (Hardcover)
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I disliked this book on so many levels: on the political and moral level I found it crass and insensitive; on the literary level, badly-written, lazy and sometimes plain dumb. The characters are cardboard cut-outs and pretty much uniformly unpleasant. Johnson lifts from the Mitford letters (daytrips to Dachau, tea with Hitler) and adds in her own idiom where girls are `jolly' and have `bosoms'.

Much of the narrative is rambling and filled out with designer name-dropping. I was bored to death by the emotionally- and socially-shallow Little Venice lifestyle of our modern day heroine who has to decide between having brunch in the `Expensive Place' or the `Beyond Expensive Place'...

My biggest hate, though, was the inane and gross way that this deals with Nazi Germany in 1936, which Daphne describes as "if you tuned out the Third Reich, it was all very Heidi" - and she makes this judgement not when she is a callow 18 year old, but when she is 80, in the present day, and with the benefit of historical hindsight. And even in 1936 with the Nuremburg Laws already in place, with the explicitly Nazi summer and winter Olympic Games, and with Dachau and Sachsenhausen already operational, with military conscription and the presence of the SS and Gestapo, if feels difficult to have wiped out the existence of a fascist regime.

But then Daphne doesn't only excuse Fascism, she also manages to enjoy sexual assault: `I'm sure nowadays everyone would call it rape and get into a frightful stew. But I've never really seen it like that'.

I enjoy a bit of frivolous fiction as much as anyone, but there are some things that just shouldn't be turned into a frothy romp - and for me violence against women, and genocidal political regimes are two of them. I have no idea what the author's intentions were, but I found this an increasingly distasteful, even offensive, read, and one which lacks all literary, historical and moral integrity.
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 5 Mar 2013 08:03:34 GMT
Sid Nuncius says:
It doesn't sound as though you were all that keen on the book, then. :o)

Thanks for saving me from a book I'd have thoroughly disliked, by the sound of it.
Sid

In reply to an earlier post on 5 Mar 2013 12:58:08 GMT
Roman Clodia says:
Oh yes, you'd have *hated* this - and, possibly, been even more offended by its crude sensibility than I was.

RC.

Posted on 21 Apr 2013 08:34:12 BDT
My grandma bought me this for my birthday! along with a couple of others of dubious interest... I feel bad giving all three to the Oxfam shop, but thanks to your wonderfully concise review.. that's where they are going. At least in mint condition they will earn more to buy chickens / vaccinations / well-drilling equipment etc :-)

In reply to an earlier post on 21 Apr 2013 12:17:08 BDT
Roman Clodia says:
Oh dear, books as presents are always tricky. At least you're getting something positive out of the book, though, even if it is by giving it away!
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