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Edge of Eternity by Ken Follett


Book Review: Edge of Eternity by Ken Follett

Edge of Eternity is an epic novel that follows the lives of families in America, the UK, Germany and Russia from 1961 until the modern day. It shows how the decisions made in the corridors of power bring the world to the brink of oblivion during the Cold War, and the impact that has on the lives of the families in the novel.

Rebecca Hoffman is a teacher in East Germany who is pursued by the notorious Stasi secret police – and she discovers much of her life has been a lie. From that point she is determined to escape across the Wall to West Germany, despite the risk of being killed.

Rebecca’s younger brother Walli also longs to escape to the Western world. A talented musician he makes the break and finds himself in the middles of an explosion of British music and culture – but his success is saddened by the fact that he has had to leave the love of his live back in East Germany.

In Russia journalist Tanai Dvorkin narrowly escapes being sent to Siberia for producing an illegal newssheet – but her friend Vasili, another dissident, is caught and charged. The situation is made more perilous as Tanai’s brother, Dimka, is a rising star in the Communist government.

In the United States the civil rights movement is exploding, at the heart of it is George Jakes, a bright young lawyer in the Kennedy administration. He is attracted to Maria Summers who also works for the Kennedy’s – but unknown to him, she is having an affair with the President. Later he begins a relationship with Verna, who works for Martin Luther King. Jr – and they find themselves at the centre of real violence during the Civil Rights movement.

I haven’t mentioned all the characters, but surprisingly this book is not confusing to read, despite the many characters, change of countries and the increasing interlinking relationships between the different characters, real and fictional. It captures an astonishing period of history in a way that brings it vividly to life. The violence of the Civil Rights Movement, and the passion of people to ensure change. The bleakness of Communism, the building and maintaining of the Wall, and the risks people took for a fresh start in the West. The escalation of tensions to the brink of an all-out nuclear war. Then there are the artists and musicians, forging a new fight for individual freedom. Sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll, the assassinations of President Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr, and Bobby Kennedy, the war in Vietnam – all of this and more is covered in this masterful book. But it is the individual characters and the families that bring to life the emotional heart of this book – a book of conflict and passion. This is a brilliant, epic novel.

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