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I read this book with interest as there was a lot I didn't previously know about the period in Holland but I also became increasingly frustrated with the tone. As a memoir I expected some emotional involvement from the author but his description of some of the truly dreadful actions of his father were cold and detached. This is a damning story of corruption, the dubious influence of the class sytem and the power of the catholic church in enabling the author's grandfather to amass a huge fortune both during and after the war. The author seems to have an underlying admiration for the old man and barely criticises his actions or the system which he is so adept at using, despite his terrible treatment of members of his own family. The author's father Frans is clearly mentally disturbed but he is also a deeply unpleasant character who uses people without any sense of empathy. The whole book left me with an unpleasant taste in my mouth and I found that I too was losing any sympathy for the characters including the author. I would have loved to read the same story from the perspective of one of the women. Surely they can't all have been so self centred / weak /pathetic/ powerless/easily deceived as this book implies?
The summary of this book sounded fascinating - and, indeed the author has an extraordinary story to tell. Unfortunately, that story is very poorly told - it is rambling and, though the events are painful, the writer seems almost detached so one has little real sense of his emotions or response to the life events, and there is no one here with whom one feels any engagement. On the other hand, he spends several pages, for instance, recounting every manoeuvre of a game of toy soldiers played when he was seven - not only is this beyond tedious but it strains credulity to believe that he remembers it in such detail some 50 years later. I struggled to the end just to see if there was some resolution, but "struggled" is the word. Part of the trouble is a leaden translation, but the primary fault lies with the author.
Skips about all over the place from loose family connection to barely realised event or incident. Tedious and hard to follow unless you have an interest or connection to this time, these places and people.
Another tough read. I think it suffered badly from almost a diary type dialogue to being translated. Have to say I didn’t like any of the people in the book. Interesting account of families torn apart by the war. Would have difficulties recommending it as a good read.
The storyline flitted backwords and forwards through history with to many characters to juggle. Unfortunately for me I am the kind of reader, who once starts reading a book has to finish it and this book, for me was hard work. It seemed like hard work
Basically, this book is an exposition of a completely dysfunctional extended family, especially the author's father and grandfather. The father had volunteered for the SS in WWII, fighting for the nazis. Many in his family didn't approve but, nevertheless, bailed him out of one bad situation after another when the war was over. He continued to be obsessed with Germany and the war, but not because of the death and destruction, but simply because he seemed to love being in the SS. As he continued to lie, cheat, steal, and care about nothing, no one ever stood up to him or called him out on it. It got to the point where not only couldn't I care about any of the people, I disliked all of them and couldn't bring myself to care.
Parts of this book were interesting, parts were boring. The parts I liked best were where we learned about his father's time in the German SS during WWII. He claimed he wasn't a Nazi, he was fighting the Bolsheviks to keep them out of his native Latvia. I feel like this was mainly written for the authors own use, to pass down his family's story. There were lots of places where he got into too much minutiae for me, anyway. I got this book for free through Amazon 1st reads.