Tag: Miles Franklin Shortlist

All That I Am by Anna Funder

Posted June 20, 2012 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Historical Fiction / 0 Comments

All That I Am by Anna FunderTitle: All That I Am (Goodreads)
Author: Anna Funder
Published: Harper Collins, 2011
Pages: 384
Genres: Historical Fiction
My Copy: Personal Copy

Buy: AmazonBook Depository (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

I wanted to read this book before the Mile’s Franklin award for 2012 is announced as I’m predicting this book will win. All That I Am by Anna Funder is told from the perspective of Ruth Becker and Ernst Toller in alternate chapters. Both Ruth and Toller are remembering life in 1930’s Germany as political activists. Both characters, along with Ruth’s husband Hans and Toller’s lover Dora, publically speak out against Hitler and everything he stands for, advocating independence and freedom of speech for Germany.

This book starts out very heavy; trying to cover all the relevant back story of Germany in the 1930’s while still trying to drive the story along. This is a delicate balance to manage but I think Anna Funder did a good job at managing this. I know people may disagree with me  but I think with the subject matter and the back story that needs to be covered, the author still manages to keep the reader turning the page, and for me, that never felt boring. I love the fact that this story is more about the politics and the effect Hitler’s rise to power will have on the German people rather than dealing with the holocaust.

The simple fact that this book tries to deal with the social impacts of the changing Germany has been the biggest contributing factor to my enjoyment of the book. I couldn’t care less about Toller who is writing his autobiography or Ruth, who after reading Toller’s writing, is remembering her side of the story. I know they risk a lot to speak out and I knew Hitler’s regime were actively trying to stop political opposition so I probably should care more for the characters, but the fictionalised German history was more interesting for me.

All That I Am would be a tough book to write and while at times it was heavy and at other time I might not have cared too much of the story; Anna Funder did do an excellent job at writing this novel. The book reminded me of the 2002 movie Max for some weird reason; mainly because it also was a fictionalised account of Hitler rising to power and how he dealt with the political opposition. For those who don’t know the movie Max starred John Cusack as a fictional Jewish art dealer and a young Austrian painter, Adolf Hitler (Noah Taylor). The interesting thing about the movie was it explores Hitler and the view’s that shaped Nazi ideology, while also taking a look at the artistic designs of the Third Reich.

Anna Funder must have done a lot of research in preparing to write this book. I know she has a non-fiction book called Stasiland: Stories from Behind the Berlin Wall but I think that was more about East Germany, but in the course of researching that book she might have gotten all the information needed for All That I Am. I’m glad to have read this novel; I think it offers an interesting insight into a world I was never a part of. It is an interesting piece of history and sociology. Anna Funder has won the Australian Independent Booksellers Indie Book Award for Literary Fiction and has been shortlisted for Miles Franklin Award for this book. I’d be interested to see if this book will stand the test of time.