I always knew I was going to love this book. After falling in love with Follett’s writing whilst reading Fall of Giants, the first book in the Century trilogy, I knew I would love its sequel, Winter of the World, even more. For starters, this novel takes us through the Second World War, which is one of my favourite periods to read about. After getting to know several beloved characters of American, British, German and Russian nationalities during Fall of Giants, I was also eager to see how Follett would link the lives of the next generation of their families.
So I did go into this with high expectations – and I’m delighted to say that even those high expectations were surpassed! I genuinely couldn’t put this down, finishing it in less than two weeks – quite ironic since I’d put it off for so long due to a fear of its enormous size! To anyone put off by the size of Follett’s novels, I would say that once you get started, his writing style is very easy to read. He isn’t one for flowery prose; the beauty in his writing is its simplicity, allowing the plot and characters to shine.
A particular strength in Follett’s writing is his ability to simultaneously display the best and worst of human nature. He didn’t shy away from the brutalities of the bloodiest conflict in the world’s history, but dealt with them in a sensitive way, capturing the atrocities faced by victims whilst maintaining a sense of hope.
Another quality I loved about Winter of the World was the opportunity to experience so many different perspectives of the events of the Second World War. In writing characters with vastly differing beliefs and backgrounds, Follett managed to make their motives believable, and as a result I found many of the characters very easy to connect with.
Covering a span of fifteen years, I was worried that even in just under a thousand pages the story might feel rushed – but the plot moved seamlessly through the buildup to the war, then through each year of the war itself. The various narratives were woven masterfully together in the way I have come to expect in Follett’s writing; there are few authors who manage it as well as he does.
It may only be January, but I loved this so much that I’m going to boldly say that Winter of the World will be a strong contender for my top books of 2018. For lovers of WWII historical fiction, this is definitely a must read – I would definitely recommend reading Fall of Giants first, though, in order to gain the maximum enjoyment from the story.
For now I’ll be taking a bit of a breather from this epic trilogy – but I’ll be to sure to post a review of Edge of Eternity, the concluding novel, when I do read it.