Book Cover:  All That I Am

Welcome to the third week and Wrap-Up of our July Read-a-Long for All That I Am by Anna Funder.  Please be aware that, if you have not read this far into the book yet, there are:

* * * SPOILERS * * *


Firstly, it confirmed for us the extent of Hans’ betrayal to Ruth, Dora and the cause with him ackloedged as a traitor, arranging the capture of Bertie and leading them to Dora.  Did this come as a surprise to anybody?  I think there were inklings of this in Part 2, but the extent of the betrayal was much bigger than I imagined.

We had Ruth going to Paris to get away from Hans and, probably, most of her memories. She develops an instant hatred at the betrayal of Hans, wishing he was captured. Should he have got the chance to explain his actions to her?  Did you want that face-off?  I know I did.  That would have been an interesting scene, watching them battle out over it all.

With Ruth leaving, we see the damage the separation from Dora has on her.  It is best described by this sentence: ‘… you going into an unshared future. the soul who has gone leaves your own lonelier and small, shrunken inside a body that is now a shell for loss.’

Dora’s death as the final scene of Part 2 (in the book). Did her death have an impact on you? I missed out on that, as I felt it wasn’t played on enough. Sad, but I had to read it a second time to fully comprehend her death.

Then we had the court case of Dora’s death, for the eventual outcome of it being ruled a suicide.  This I found slightly unfair and unjustified, even if based on real facts!  For me, Dora was the heroine for the cause, even though she was not much of a person.  Then the ruling works, I suppose.  Not much of an outcome for not much of a person.  I can almost hear you scowling at that one already!

Then we have Ruth’s imprisonment for five years, with her being denied her fathers funeral.  Again, I was going to say it was not really fair, but at the time, there was not much fairness to be had.  She was a convicted criminal by then, so no lenience was shown.  Did you feel that she deserved the opportunity to go?

For me it took until page 340 to get to the Australian component of the novel by saying Australians aim for one main thing decency. Do you think this was well done or too little too late?  Is this all that could be said about this country?  Really?  Still, if that is what makes up Australia it makes it a good start.  I do not think it was enough to justify the Miles Franklin Award.  How about you?

Now, for the ending.  Toller’s suicide and Ruth’s quite passing.  Is Toller a coward to taking such an easy way out?  Had he done everything he could?  Was there more he could have done?

Ruth just slides away from us in the end, having learnt what happens to Hans, Dora and Toller.  Do you think she died happy being able to fill in those blanks in her life?

Hans ended up being relegated to that typical bad guy scenario – being on the run and dying in some isolated corner of the world.  Was this fitting?  Did he deserve such harsh treatment?

Had any of them had a fulfilling life?  Did they have any impact on Germany in the end?  Did they make the war shorter?  Was the point of their lives valid?

I see that this book could have been so much more. A better dynamic between our cast would have lent itself to the lack of an emotional tie I felt.  There was not enough difference in the three voices for me. I was reading what I thought was a Ruth chapter, until the narrator starting looking at Ruth!  I feel as though I should have known who is was by the tone and the language.

Well, that’s my thoughts.  Let me know how you went.