Saturday, April 26, 2008

The Separation

An author is researching a minor mystery of the European War, a history in which England signed a peace treaty with Nazi Germany in 1941. He comes across an intriguing journal by a former pilot; however, the journal contains a history different than the one that occurred. In 1936, twin brothers return from competing at the Olympic Games with a Jewish girl stowed away in their van. This first separation of many shapes the paths the two brothers follow, one as a bomber pilot and the other as a conscientious objector, and the brother that will determine which history will be achieved.
Like Priest’s earlier work The Prestige, The Separation is written mostly in the form of journals and other historical documents. This style of writing makes for a far more fascinating story than the conventional linear plot. Because the point of view is after the fact, the narration relies on memories and what the narrator chooses to tell us, both of which can be unreliable. The trick is to follow the story and the clues and see what happens.
Of course, it helps if the characters are extremely well written and this is perhaps Priest’s greatest strength: his characters. The characters are incredibly real. They seem to come alive off the page and feel like they might truly have existed during the period. Priest also succeeded in capturing the spirit, thoughts, and technology of the times, in making the reader feel like they were really immersed in the Second World War.
This alternative history novel was a joy to read and is highly recommended.
Rating: 9/10.


ThRiNiDiR said...

Saw The Prestige in theathers; wasn't that impressed - but the movies usually cannot compare the books so I guess I should give Priest another try. The Separation looks like the obvious pick.

Benjamin said...

Like I said in the review, the book is written in the form of journals, which the movie, understandably and on the whole fairly well done, could not adequately reproduce. The book is also extremely well-written so I think you would like either it or The Separation. I hope you like the book!

RedEyedGhost said...

Are The Prestige and The Seperation the only Priest books you've read? If so what's on tap next of his?

Benjamin said...

REG, yes those are the only two Priest books I've read so far. I don't have any of his other ones at the moment so I'll probably try to get ahold of either The Affirmation or The Glamour.