Ken Follett’s Winter of the World provides for a rich reading experience as it transports you from the bleak economic depression of the 1930s to the Cold War when the world feared the power of the Soviet Union. Follett is able to depict this so vividly through his characters who are the children of the characters in his first book in the trilogy, Fall of Giants. In the beginning of the novel, all the children are young and witnessing history every day: from Brownshirts storming the office of a publication one child’s mother works at in Germany to two children witnessing politics in action as children of a senator close to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
As these children grow up, their lives become intertwined as one girl ends up marrying the son of an earl. The earl is revealed to actually be the father of a boy whose mother had once served as a maid in the earl’s country home. The two children from Washington grow up to become, respectively, a famous war photographer and an enlisted officer in the Navy. The connections forged between the children change their families forever.
What these children learn in their adult years is that they truly have the power to change history. One of them, a Russian, commits a crime that affects American intelligence, and the Navy officer mourns the loss of his fiancée at Pearl Harbor. Their everyday lives are shaped by the events that occur in their countries, and all end up involved in American society. Follett is able to depict the lives of these characters vividly and show just how tumultuous these periods of history were.
This is a book that will enthrall those who love history and even those who may just enjoy a book filled with unique personalities and locations. It may be long, but it proves for a fast-paced read as readers will see how lives become intertwined and are altered in the course of even an ordinary day. Follett once more proves just how masterful he is at writing historical fiction, and fans of his work will not be disappointed by this book.