Synopsis from the book jacket:
C.J. SANSOM REWRITES HISTORY IN A THRILLING NOVEL THAT DARES TO IMAGINE BRITAIN UNDER THE THUMB OF NAZI GERMANY.
1952. Twelve years have passed since Churchill lost to the appeasers and Britain surrendered to Nazi Germany. The global economy strains against the weight of the long German war against Russia still raging in the east. The British people find themselves under increasingly authoritarian rule–the press, radio, and television tightly controlled, the British Jews facing ever greater constraints.
But Churchill’s Resistance soldiers on. As defiance grows, whispers circulate of a secret that could forever alter the balance of the global struggle. The keeper of that secret? Scientist Frank Muncaster, who languishes in a Birmingham mental hospital.
Civil Servant David Fitzgerald, a spy for the Resistance and University friend of Frank’s, is given the mission to rescue Frank and get him out of the country. Hard on his heels is Gestapo agent Gunther Hoth, a brilliant, implacable hunter of men, who soon has Frank and David’s innocent wife, Sarah, directly in his sights.
C.J. Sansom’s literary thriller Winter in Madrid earned Sansom comparisons to Graham Greene, Sebastian Faulks, and Ernest Hemingway. Now, in his first alternative history epic, Sansom doesn’t just recreate the past–he reinvents it. In a spellbinding tale of suspense, oppression and poignant love, DOMINION dares to explore how, in moments of crisis, history can turn on the decisions of a few brave men and women–the secrets they choose to keep and the bonds they share.
So what did I think about the story?:
What C.J. Sansom does with Dominion - presenting an alternative history in which Winston Churchill does not become Prime Minister of Britain in 1940 and the men who do come to power agree to an appeasement with Germany that finds the now authoritarian government of Britain heavily influenced by their new Fascist friends - is simply fascinating! I love the idea of exploring how every little alteration and change of events can so heavily impact every aspect of our world. And the changes here make for some devastating and far reaching consequences.
I have to admit that I got bogged down at times with the various political and social factions discussed and had a hard time keeping them straight (Socialism, Communism, Fascism, Nationalism, Imperialism....just so many "ism's"!). There is so much intricate history here as well - the various countries involved with this ongoing war for German domination, their various leaders and the shifting allegiances between countries, the scientific advancement during this time - that I found myself having to stop reading the book to go look up the many bits and pieces of factual history in order to be able to determine the changes taking places in this alternative world. This slowed down my reading somewhat and caused some confusion but the historical notes at the end of the novel did help alleviate some of that confusion.
For me the driving force and what kept bringing be back into the story was the human element. Taking these broad and perplexing ideals and showing how they affected and influenced the people having to live under them made this shifted history seem real and frightening. It was sad yet inspiring to see the many reasons these characters joined Churchill's Resistance and was awe-inspiring to witness the bravery and selflessness they presented. On the flip side it was horrifying to see the greed, prejudice and cruelty of some of the other characters. All of these people came to life for me and thoroughly captured my attention.
In particular the two characters that fascinated me the most were Frank Muncaster and Gunther Hoth. Both are such complex, well developed characters that kept surprising me with their growth throughout the story. Frank, the scientist holding a dangerous and deadly secret, is such a sad, scared, introverted character that spent his life being bullied and unloved by everyone but who proved to have more bravery than most could imagine when it mattered. Most surprising of all, I found myself remarkably feeling compassion for Gunther Hoth, a Nazi man through and through, who had lost so much throughout his life but carried on with a purpose and determination to do what he felt was his job and his duty to Germany. He is a monster for what he did and what he supported but one that had a heart, although a twisted and misjudging one in my opinion. I am always delighted to find a novel that makes me feel for characters that are so multidimensional.
All in all Dominion is a thought provoking and complex look at how our world and its history can change on a dime based on the wills, egos, and actions of others and how the actions of the few can so alter the lives of the many. This is my first novel by C.J. Sansom but it will definitely not be my last.
So what did I think about the cover?:
The cover is perfect for the story, with the ever present and all consuming fog and what it represents for the dank and dreadful place the world found itself in. It also made me think about the shrouded yet insidious hold Germany seemed to have on Britain, with the average, grey looking constable banded with the bright, intrusive swastika armband.
My rating: 4.0/5.0
It's Giveaway Time!:
Thanks to Amy at Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours I am beyond thrilled to offer a giveaway for one hardcover copy of Dominion! The giveaway is open to U.S. and Canadian residents and will run through Friday, March 21st. To enter, just leave a comment below and I will pick a winner at random on March 22nd. Please be sure to leave your email address in your comment so I can notify you if you are the winner (no email, no entry). For extra entries please share online and post in a separate comment where you shared and leave a link. Good luck!!! And don't forget to check out the author information and tour information below!
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About the Author
C.J. Sansom is the bestselling author of the critically-acclaimed Matthew Sharlake series, as well as the runaway international bestseller Winter in Madrid. He lives in Sussex, England.
You can find more information on C.J. Sansom and his novels at www.cjsansom.com or on Facebook.
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Virtual Book Tour ScheduleMonday, February 17
Review at Flashlight Commentary
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Interview at Historical Boys
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Monday, March 10
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book
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Review at Okbo Lover
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Wednesday, March 12
Review at Ageless Pages Reviews
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Review at Diary of an Eccentric
Review & Giveaway at Historical Tapestry