All That I Am by Anna Funder


Ruth Becker, defiant and cantankerous, is living out her days in the eastern suburbs of Sydney. She has made an uneasy peace with the ghosts of her past – and a part of history that has been all but forgotten.

Another lifetime away, it’s 1939 and the world is going to war. Ernst Toller, self-doubting revolutionary and poet, sits in a New York hotel room settling up the account of his life.

When Toller’s story arrives on Ruth’s doorstep their shared past slips under her defences, and she’s right back among them – those friends who predicted the brutality of the Nazis and gave everything they had to stop them. Those who were tested – and in some cases found wanting – in the face of hatred, of art, of love, and of history.

Based on real people and events, All That I Am is a masterful and exhilarating exploration of bravery and betrayal, of the risks and sacrifices some people make for their beliefs, and of heroism hidden in the most unexpected places. Anna Funder confirms her place as one of our finest writers with this gripping, compassionate, inspiring first novel.

My Perspective

This is the first of the books i have read that sweet old man has lent to me.

When i first started reading this book there was something different about it that i couldn’t put my finger on. For some reason i felt unsettled and i couldn’t understand why. Then i realised. The book is written in first person. I haven’t read a book like that for awhile so i have become unaccustomed to it. Once i realised that, i was able to once again get into the mindset and everything was fine. Weird, i know.

This book really opened my eyes about what happened between WWI and WWII. Obviously it is fiction, however it is based on truth.

The story wasn’t so much a traditional beginning, middle, conflict, climax and end. It was more a flowing of events. There was drama, intrigue, and betrayals throughout that made it work really well. I think Anna did a great job in writing outside the norm and it not ending up like a dog’s breakfast.

If you love your history, this book is right up your alley. As someone who is neither partial nor impartial, i still think this is a great book to read. I’m not sure if i would read it again, not because i didn’t enjoy it but because it was quite real and so therefore quite sad. The heartache wasn’t something you can easily push away as being ‘not true’.

“Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few are to be chewed and digested.” – Francis Bacon


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