Differing viewpoints on the war and social issues of the time are seen through the characters representing different countries:
- Billy Williams is a young coal miner from Aberwen, South Wales, and his sister Ethel is a housemaid in the Welsh country home of a rich earl.
- Earl Fitzherbert and his sister, Lady Maud, are English and part of the old aristocracy, though they spend time in their country home in Wales.
- Walter von Ulrich is a German count and a military attache at the German Embassy in London.
- Grigori and Lev Peshkov are peasant brothers who eventually rise above their poverty-stricken and violent surroundings in St. Petersburg, Russia.
- Gus Dewar, an American from Buffalo, New York, meets all the other main characters in his travels throughout Europe as an assistant to President Woodrow Wilson.
|Royal Irish Rifles at the Battle of Somme (photo from Wikipedia)|
I didn't realize how little I knew about WWI until I began reading this book. The novel is not just a war story, however, as it also deals with some major social upheavals of the time, including women's suffrage and the increasing power of the middle and lower classes, especially in Russia. But as interesting as the plot is, it is the characters who fascinated me and kept me reading. The book ends in 1924, with each of the characters at a pivotal point in their lives. Fall of Giants is the first book of a trilogy planned by Follett; I'm sure I'm not the only reader eager to find out what happens to Ethel, Grigori, and the others as the years pass by.
I must admit I was hesitant to start reading a book that was nearly 1,000 pages long during the height of gardening season, and I didn't expect to finish it in time for this Book Club meeting. When I read Follett's Pillars of the Earth a few years ago, it took me nearly 100 pages to get "into" the book. But Giants had me hooked from the beginning, and it was a great way to spend those hot afternoons the past two weeks, curled up with a book in the comfort of my A/C. I can't wait for the next in the series to come out!
One more note . . .
reviewed here some time ago. I can only hope the movie does the book justice; if you see the movie, be sure to read the book, too--you won't be disappointed.
After a few months' hiatus, I'm glad to be joining once again in the Book Review Club hosted by Barrie Summy . Click here for more recommendations for summer reading.