This book is somewhere between an incredibly well researched account of the events leading up to WWI, the events of the war and its aftereffects – and soft porn.
Not quite sure where, to be honest.
The book starts with a Welsh mining family, and the journey of the son, as he leaves school and begins work in a coal mine. At this point I should point out that this is a fat book, wordy, not fast paced in the slightest. I learnt far more about coal mining in the early twentieth century then I ever cared to know. I began losing interest even here, before the story had even begun.
We are then introduced to an American diplomat, a German diplomat, an English aristocrat and two Russian brothers.
And so we follow their journey through WWI, some of the characters interline with others, basically every female character in the novel ends up pregnant, and there’s more horribly written sex scenes than you’ll find on the top shelf of your local newsagent.
This was an audible listen for me and for large chunks of the book I simply switched off and it became background noise. Some parts are very well written – the details of the battle of the Somme for instance. But far too much of it is waffle, and I spent most of the book wondering why it wouldn’t have been cut down at the edit – maybe the point was that it had to be a certain length? A statement if some sorts?
The research that must have gone into it is remarkable and the author deserves a lot of credit for that. He did immerse me in the coal mines of wales, I could feel the cold of the Russian winter. The majority of the (huge) cast are believable and there are people to root for and people to hate. But that wasn’t quite enough for me