Book Review - Divided Loyalties by Denis Hamley

Ben1976 By Ben1976, 13th Dec 2011 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
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A book review of Divided loyalties by Dennis Hamley

Book Review

Book Review

Divided Loyalties by Dennis Hamley

Walker Books – ISBN 978-1-4063-0407-7 346 Pages - £6.99

‘Divided Loyalties’ looks on the effects of war on a family with an English Mother and a German Father.

The couple, Matthias and Ellen Vogler met during the first world war, and are doing their best to raise their 3 children, Walter, Paul and Anna in a society which in the run up to world war II won’t let Matthias forget the roots and family he now has nothing in common with.

The book looks at the war from the point of view of many characters within the book. It looks at Walter’s bloodlust and confusion about his dual identity, it tells how Ellen and Matthias are trying to do their best by their village, Peterborough, and to protect their children, but it is too later for Walter, who faced that level of prejudice in his childhood when he was too young to properly understand what it meant.

It looks at how Matthias’s family in Germany, and particularly his young nephew Helmut are adapting to live under Hitler. They are quick to believe in Hitler’s promises, and the changes he makes, before becoming disillusioned with life. Helmut is a leading member of the Hitler youth, and is even introduced to the Fuhrer in a vividly drawn episode of the book. The barbaric side of Hitler’s Ayrain regime is bought home to Helmut though, when a handi-capped girl he has known for all of her life is taken away, and is said to have died from ‘Pneumonia’. Helmut knows this is not the case.

There are episodes of action throughout the book, and it is very well researched, with details about the machinery of war, and also the austere conditions that civilians were forced to life in very well described.

There is no real happy ending to the book, with the effects of war being evident throughout the entire course of the story. Walter survives a plane crash in Germany, but is killed by the civilians who find him on their land.
Life is shown to continue on throughout the war. The education of both Anna and Paul do not seem to be badly affected, although being in a small village meant that the family are relatively safe. Trips to London by Ellen, and to Germany by various members of the family though, show the damage that regular bombing raids were having on architecture.

The heavy human cost of War is also well evoked within the novel. Strong friendships are destroyed by distance, whilst many of Walter’s fellow soldiers and plane crew die throughout the course of the novel.

Helmut sees the effects that his once adored Fuhrer’s war is having on his country, and as a leader of the Hitler Youth, he surrenders to the English soldiers he sees. It is here that he meets up once again with Paul, his cousin who had seen him presented to Hitler.

Although the Cousins are on different sides, and barely know one another, they are still close, and Paul sees Helmut as the confused Soldier and man he is, rather than a leading figure in the opposing side’s army.

Walter’s wife Julie, who had married only days before his death visits Ellen and Matthias towards the end of the novel, with Walter, Walter’s son, and their grand-son.
The links that are made within the story at the end shows that although the war has had an effect on the character’s lives, it has not completely destroyed their humanity, or their warmth


Germany, Nazi, Wartime, World War Two

Meet the author

author avatar Ben1976
I am a reviewer of films, books. and music, with a wide range of interests. I am hoping to add a page a day.

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