Book Cover:  All That I Am

So here we go. Week 1 of our July Read-a-long. I hope you are all enjoying this book by Anna Funder. Firstly, let me say this is my first week of this, so please forgive me if you believed I have missed key details.

For me, it’s different (again) to what I normally read, and time constraints are not helping!, but I have found myself finding lines and paragraphs that blow me away. More of this in a bit.

The style of Funder’s writing is eloquent and at times sad and beautiful in equal measure. One of those books that you really do not want to rush. As if the age of Ruth somehow influences the speed the book can be read at! For here on in, there may be

***** SPOILERS *****

There are so many historical elements going on the first third of the book including:

  • The onset of the second World War
  • Hitler coming into dominance
  • The socialists trying to reshape Germany between wars

How have you found reading about that period of history? I know that I do not enjoy reading about war, but there is no glorification of it here. In fact, it is much the opposite with Hans writing his journalistic attacks and Toller’s plays. Still, knowing what happens after this makes some passages difficult to read. Would you agree?

Then there are the romantic elements, which define more of the book than the history. The relationship between Ruth, Toller and the mysterious Dora (that is only discussed in thrid person) is paramount to the story. Both Ruth and Toller are trying to relive their past with memories of Dora.

Is Dora the lynchpin to their relationship? Do you get the feeling that somehow they were all involved with each other, outside of the socialist party? There is talk of marriages for Dora and Ruth, but they are only mentioned as rudimentary constucts. Have you read this the same way?

For Toller, it is adding Dora to the autobiography, which is what Ruth receives in the mail. At one point, Ruth retrieves a photo album to find any photo of Dora. For her, it is her age that helps to enliven her past for her as we read about on Page 8.

I feel as though there is a meeting between Ruth and Toller at some later point though this may be physically impossible. Given the age of Ruth, Toller must be very old by now, if not passed away.

What do you see happening here? Is this story only going to be relived through Ruth and Toller’s manuscript?

As mentioned earlier, I have found some stunning lines that make me wish I write this good. So here they are:

Page 29: Outside, the dead are honoured as heroes, but in here the maimed are ashamed.

Page 98-99: Dora had a sense of purpose so profound that when I was with her it was impossible to feel lost. (This section continues all the way to) The cynic only sees cynicism, the depressive can taint creation with one glance.

That’s it for me. Let me know your thoughts and what I have missed. I am intrigued to know how you have seen this book so far. Based on the first third, do you believe a worthy recipient of the Miles Franklin award? Has this book lived up to your expectations?

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