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The Valley of Unknowing by [Sington, Philip]
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The Valley of Unknowing Kindle Edition

4.6 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Length: 305 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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"The Valley of Unknowing is simply superb: affecting but never melodramatic, literary but never less than thrilling." (Financial Times)

"A literary thriller, superbly anchored in place and time. Having lived in East Germany I am astonished by Sington’s pitch-perfect recreation of that society…this is a brilliant, evocative and accurate novel, a gripping hard-nosed authentic thriller." (Peter Millar The Times)

"A flawless, gripping and penetrating depiction of life in the former East Germany, wrapped up as a literary thriller...his feeling for not just time and place but atmosphere and way of life is perfect in a way no other Western writer, not even John Le Carre, has achieved" (The Oldie)

"Elegiac and bittersweet" (The Times)

Book Description

A compelling story set in the last days of East Germany from the author of The Einstein Girl

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1552 KB
  • Print Length: 305 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Digital (5 April 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #174,700 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The DDR is a rich source for satire and irony. The author has tapped it well. He tells the tale of a love triangle : novelist- cum- plumber, Bruno Krug, a struggling musician, Theresa Aden, and a flamboyant scriptwriter Wolfgang Richter. There is a novel at the centre of their relationship, a novel entitled in one its guises "The Valley of the Unknowing", a novel that proves to be emotonal and political dynamite. It is very, very funny - most of the humour coming from Bruno Krug, whose plumbing skills find plenty of scope in the dodgy pipes of East Germany, and introduce us to the ordinary people struggling to get by in the "valley", the term for the city he lives in as well. With love there is the necessary note of sadness and heartbreak to make this more than just a comedy. Sington captures well the frustrations of life in the Workers' and Peasants' State under Actually Existing Socialism. He also details the problems of Republikflucht [escaping to the west]. Of course, in reality, there was an awful lot more pain than hilarity as Sington acknowledges between the lines and especially in the final chapters. The novel has a colourful cast from the main players to the walk-ons. In Bruno Krug Philip Sington has created a character that one really would quite like to be.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
"In the East of Germany, in the valley of the Elbe, lies the capital of Saxony. In the days of the GDR, it was the only part of the country where it was impossible to receive western television. East Germans called it the Valley of Unknowing."

Set in the German Democratic Republic in the 1980s, Philip Sington's novel is the story of Bruno Krug, a middle-aged author, suffering from writer's block and living off the reputation of his acclaimed book: 'The Orphans of Neustadt'; a novel that has won him prizes and public recognition, but is proving a very tough act to follow. His friend and editor, Michael Schilling, continues to encourage Bruno in his efforts to produce a new book but, knowing that nothing is immediately forthcoming, he asks Bruno to read the manuscript of an untitled novel that has been given to him by a new author.

Bruno is curious and takes the manuscript home to read, but when he discovers that the novel is by a young screenwriter, Wolfgang Richter, a man who has ridiculed him in the past, Bruno is unsettled. And when Bruno has finished reading the manuscript he is even more unsettled, for not only is the novel extremely good but Richter has managed to write the sequel to Bruno's 'Orphans' that Bruno has been incapable of writing himself. Added to this, Bruno's dislike of Richter is further increased when he sees him in the company of the beautiful Theresa, a viola player from the West who is studying in the East, and a woman Bruno is very attracted to and has been trying to get to know better.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It is difficult to find a title for this review as the book does not fall into a neat genre category. A study of life in East Germany shortly before the regime collapsed it uses a German historical setting (as the author has done in his previous work) to explore the relationship of a writer to public setting in which they are rewarded and feted, the extent to which an author is the 'sole' producer of their work and the meaning of identity in settings where little is to be trusted. And the book is an account of a passionate but unstable relationship between an older man and a younger woman. Describing these themes in this way might suggest that it is a dry or overly intellectual work but that would be misleading as I nearly labelled the book a thriller. One is caught up in the unfolding narrative as you are never quite sure which of the fictions that are in play is going to unravel, one is also seduced by the skillful way in which extensive research is unobtrusively deployed. The book is not a thriller in any conventional sense but it is perhaps better described as an exercise in noir fiction that is enthralling and deeply engaging.
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Format: Hardcover
In some ways this novel is like those of John le Carre before he became self-righteous: tense, rich in revealing detail, asking significant questions about politics and human motivation. Philip Sington's tense thriller is set in the last years of the German Democratic Republic, the country proclaimed as the land of "Actually Achieved Socialism". The book's title comes from the unofficial name for those areas of East Germany where it is impossible to get TV reception and so their inhabitants know neither the 'truth' as presented by either east or west Germany.The plot concerns an east German author, Bruno Krug, whose early literary efforts have made him lionized by the communist cultural authorities. Now suffering from writer's block and disillussionment, he is given a manuscript of a novel by a young, insolent, author, which not only mocks Krugs' work, but is also certain to anger the authorities. The unpublished novel is also verty good, but its author is soon dead. Krug gradually claims identity as the manuscript's author and uses his budding romance with a young west German student as a means to smuggle the book out of the country and to make money. Sington subtly uses the themes of authorial identity, conscience deception and betrayal to background a convincing set of characters, especially Bruno - a womaniser, part-time plumber, constantly nervous and uncertain as his plans for the manuscript drag him into increasingly dangerous waters. Thought-provoking, exciting and also surprisingly funny in parts.
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