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3.7 out of 5 stars
3.7 out of 5 stars
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on 26 March 2017
Liverpool in 1912 – Adolf Hitler, aged 16, turns up to stay with his half-brother Alois and his Irish wife Bridget. He’s an awkward and moody teenager: constantly asleep, mostly unhelpful, intermittently proud, occasionally rude, takes offence abruptly, and has grandiose ideas about himself with no relation to reality… He wanders about not doing much, gets befriended by a Jewish man, gets a job at the Adelphi Hotel, gets involved in some political activity, and finally goes back to Germany. There’s a bit of wry humour: he has to wear a brown shirt; a fortune-teller says he’ll be wealthy and famous, and he gets into various scrapes. And the idea of down-and-outs turning to extremist right-wing politics was credible. But I didn’t believe in the character presented here as the future Fuhrer – people who become as successful as Hitler are charming on the outside even if they’re psychotic internally, and charm, like many skills, is best learnt in childhood. So the whole Hitler thing didn’t tie in for me at all, and the book was a bit of a disappointment: I think Beryl Bainbridge has something in common with Martin Amis and DH Lawrence - great on literary style, not so great on the world of ideas.
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on 27 July 2010
I am shocked by the negative reviews of this book. People tend to be taking it a little too seriously. It is a work of fiction and should be viewed as such. Hitler and his brother are the only 'real' characters in the novel but if Hitler ever had visited Liverpool when he was younger (which he did not), then this is probably how he would have been. The paranoid, lazy, stubborn, waif who never seemed to fit in anywhere. The story has a strong comedy feel to it, always at Hitler's expense, and at times you feel sorry for the future dictator. My advce would be give it a try!
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VINE VOICEon 20 June 2011
Taking the premise that young Adolf had visited his elder brother who did live in Liverpool, Beryl Bainbridge builds a story on the young misfit's experiences in the city. The cleverness in the plot is the way that the social ills of Liverpool are viewed through the warped mind of an inadequate young man. The psychological effects can be seen as the plot progresses. There are a series of scenes which give the reader flashes of recognition about the effects these experiences had on young Adolph's later life. These flash forwards are at once entertaining and frightening. By involving her audience in the story the author has created a satisfying and thought-provoking narrative. It does not matter that there was no such visit. I'm not quite sure how to pigeon-hole this book. The best I can do is to call it a piece of historical speculative fiction. Or maybe it's just a good novel.
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Imagine a Keystone Cops-style tale, travelling at a zany high speed, where the central character was a young, bewildered, rather dim Adolf Hitler. Imagine him arriving in Liverpool during 1912, not comprehending the language, using a false passport (& so fearful of being picked up by the authorities), and going to live in a drab cold slum. Imagine him conversing intently with a Jewish neighbour from downstairs - the only person who befriends and likes young Adolf. Imagine him working as a bell hop in a posh hotel, trying to cadge tips from crooked French businessmen; or imagine Adolf running in sheer panic around darkened backstreets and alleyways thinking he is in some sort of anarchist conspiracy (although the truth, when it emerges, couldn't be so different). Imagine him disguised in women's clothes, and being groped by a randy older man.

Its a very funny tale, with lashings of Charlie Chaplin mania mixed in to spice up the comedy. Not quite at the same hilarious level as The Bottle Factory Outing, but a perfect vehicle to mock.
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on 21 December 2013
I enjoyed this book, like another critic it was a book not to take too seriously. Beryl Bainbridge picks out many of the characteristics that Hitler is well known for-laziness, quick tempered, feeling of great sorrow for himself and his background, lack of empathy, selfishness, the list could go on, and Bainbridge incorporates all these characteristics into a short novel, add his brother, and a backdrop of Liverpool in the 1912's, and you have a good story. Beryl Bainbridge always wrote good stories, and I feel that this one is no exception.
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on 18 November 2016
I admire the writing of Beryl Bainbridge but this was a great disappointment. It seemed to go nowhere. I was rather bored.
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on 5 August 2010
This is about an imagined visit by a young Adolf Hitler to Liverpool. He stays with his step brother and wife. His confused observations and inadvertant inclusion in a revolt make this an entertaining book.
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on 15 May 2008
Granted, it's not to difficult to make fun of Hitler and probably it's even important to do so. Because exposing the ridiculous side of facism kills is fascination. However, Bainbridge picks the young Hitler and portrays him as clueless and paranoid. She combines this with memories of his truly unpleasant childhood and early years in Vienna. This does certainly not work because it does not make sense to create empathy for a person and then expose him to ridicule. So all in all this book is an uneasy mixture of satire and psychological novella. I think Bainbridhe should have decided whether to write a serious book about Hitler at this point in his life (which could have been interesting) or just a farce. In terms of trhe book being funny it's a pitty that Bainbridge did not really make full use of the potential Hitler's encounters with the English would have provided for comedy. So all in all the book is readable but only for its entertainment value.
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on 9 March 2015
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