The Aftermath Paperback – 31 Jul 2014
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Superb. This masterly novel wrings every drop of feeling out of a gripping human situation (Mail on Sunday, Novel of the Week)
Excellent, original, masterly. A captivating tale not only of love among the ruins but also of treachery and vengeance (Literary Review)
Profoundly moving, beautifully written (Independent)
Superb. Conjuring surprise after surprise (Guardian)
An extraordinary read (Daily Mail)
About the Author
Rhidian Brook is an award-winning writer of fiction, television drama and film. His first novel The Testimony of Taliesin Jones won several prizes including the Somerset Maugham Award. His short stories have appeared in numerous publications, including the Paris Review, New Statesman and Time Out, and have been broadcast on BBC Radio 4. He is also a regular contributor to 'Thought For The Day' on the Today programme. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
It covers the dilemmas of relationships between the occupying authorities and the German population. Had they been Nazis? (A term that even today Germans never use. Always "National Socialists")
And there was the relationship between those British officials and the wives and children they had hardly seen during the war years.
I still have vivid memories of the voyage to Cuxhaven and the mouth opening horror of seeing the ruins of Hamburg as we went by train down to equally ruined Cologne, and then to Aachen, to live for the next nine years in a stunning house built by a Bauhaus architect - who of course had to live elsewhere (but was paid rent).
In the Aftermath Col. Lewis invites the others of a large villa overlooking the Elbe, to share part of the house he takes over. I remember visiting a school friend in one of those very houses.
Mr Brook was not born until 16 years after VE Day but he writes as if he was in Hamburg in 1946. A fascinating book and a remarkable achievement. I think it ranks with The Reader as the best portrayal of Germany at that period.
The author cleverly uses the ruined city of Hamburg as a character in its own right - creating an atmosphere of mistrust and upheaval among the debris. Groups of orphaned children run wild; starving, ragged and feral, while adults are roped into removing the rubble for food rations. Meanwhile, the British are too often keen on finding guilt in the German people, who long to simply put the war behind them and get on with their lives. Their heavy handed interrogations to establish 'guilt', their plundering of a city left in ruins, and complaints about befriending the enemy, mean that Lewis ('of Hamburg') is soon confronting suspicion on all sides for his support of the German people. Can Lewis make his wife understand that Germans are no longer the enemy?Read more ›
Set in post-war occupied Hamburg in 1946, the story follows the fortunes of the enlightened British Colonel Lewis trying to govern his sector with humanity, of his family, of some of the conquered Germans and of other British occupiers, many with attitudes very different from Lewis's. Rhydian Brook writes good, readable prose and conjures the atmosphere of ruined Hamburg in the freezing winter very well. He paints good portraits of the sense and attitudes of all shades of both German and British people there, I found many of his characters convincing and learned a lot about post-war Germany.
What I found less good was the character development and interaction, which seemed a little predictable and a slightly missed opportunity to look more deeply at attitudes to victory, forgiveness and grief, so the story itself didn't really grip me. I also found that anachronisms in the language damaged the sense of period: people simply didn't say things like, "It might send the wrong message," or "Do you think?" or "You have set the bar rather high," in 1946 and, although there wasn't enough of this to ruin my enjoyment, it did jar badly and kept throwing me out of the atmosphere rather.
This is a good read in many ways, and is certainly a well-researched and well-written book; I just didn't quite think it tackled its subject as deeply as it might have done and lacked a little originality in its plot.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A really decent, thoughtful read, that made me want to keep reading. Only criticism is the overuse of the Thesaurus. I had to look up the meaning of so many of the words. Read morePublished 1 month ago by lottie
The story is generally well told and engaging, and is fascinating about the reconstruction of post-war Germany. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Book Lover
The RAF dropped more bombs on Hamburg in one weekend than the Luftwaffe dropped on London in the entire war
Hamburg in 1946 was in the British Occupied Zone and Colonel... Read more
Loved this beautifully written book. Characters depicted so well I felt I knew them. Wish my German vocabulary was better though, as lots of dialogue written in German.Published 5 months ago by Conners
I'm not impressed by Ms Brook's style. The story she tells is interesting thoughPublished 6 months ago by Amazon Customer