The Fall of Giants – Ken Follett

Publisher : Pan MacMillan 

Summary of the publisher :

Five families are brought together through the world-shaking dramas of the First World War, the Russian Revolution and the struggle for votes for women.

It is 1911, and the coronation day of King George V.  Thirteen-year-old Billy Williams begins his first day at work in a coal meine.

The Williams family is connected by romance and enmity to the Fitzherberts, aristocratic coal-mine owners. Lady Maud Fitzherbert falls in love with Walter von Ulrich, a spy at the German Embassy in London. Their destiny is entangled with that of Gus Dewar, ambitious young aide to U.S. President Woodrow Wilson. Two orphaned Russian brothers soon become involved, but Grigori and Lev Peshkov’s plan to emigrate to America fall foul of war, conscription and revolution. 

FALL OF GIANTS combines richly developed historical details with fast-moving action and powerful emotion to deliver this absorbing narrative.

Our comment :

Many of my friends had been praising Ken Follett’s novels for months. Most of them had described “The pillars of the earth” as compulsive reading.

Despite so many laudatory comments, and without any particular reason, I have to admit it took me quite a long time to set my hands on one of his books.  

Having recently read many novels about middle Ages, I felt like a change and this story taking place in more recent times appealed to me.

The size of the book was reassuring in the way that it seemed to offer a promising long story dotted with protracted family feuds and uncomely love affairs.

Not only was the narrative up to my expectations, it also gave me a deep insight of life at the turn of the century featuring the outbreak of social unrest, women’s lib movement and incipient class warfare.

With the WW1 as a backdrop, we get involved in the intertwined fates of five families whose friendship will be jeopardized by the worldwide conflict.

The narrative is teeming with historical details and I especially appreciated the description of the Bolshevik revolution and the diplomacy intricacies aiming at defusing or on the contrary accelerating the nations’ greatest manslaughter.

I really enjoyed Follett’s beautiful writing style and the relentless pace of his book. I would warmly recommend it.

It’s hardly possible to put it down until you reach the end which let’s bet will be the starting point of another great novel !