c. Ben Elton 2014
For those unfamiliar with the author he was maybe more well known, in the UK at least, for his brilliant ‘Young Ones’ TV show and recently writing for the musical ‘We Will Rock You’ so he comes to me as a familiar name, if not for this format or genre.
I had not read one of Ben Elton’s books, any regulars to my blog will now start to grasp a theme with my reading this year, I am trying new things, pushing boundaries ever so slightly. This book came highly recommended, so I dug in. I admit to being curious the blurb drawing me in:
“If you had one chance to change history…Where would you go? What would you do? Who would you kill?…
A war that will begin with a single bullet. But can a single bullet truly corrupt an entire century?…”
A great hook, although as an old school grammar freak, I can’t stand sentences that start with BUT! OK, so I let that go, phew, breathe, calm, start reading. The tale as you would expect is well written, the characters spring into view immediately, “…could see her still, standing before the fire, wearing an ancient military greatcoat, which she used as a dressing gown, vast arse placed firmly and unashamedly between the flames and the students…” You will gather Ben, like me, loves a comma, and is skilled at characterisation.
The story, in my view, had a fundamental fault, surely someone educated at Oxford or similar and reaching the dizzy heights of professor would have watched Star Trek or Doctor Who and know that whatever happens you shouldn’t mess with history, never ever!
Once I let go of my reservations about that I did enjoy this book, I trust the author who educated me in WW 1 history. It made me wonder if he knew it all off the top of his head, or if he or his team spent months digging through the dusty shelves of a library somewhere to find his information (a romantic view of what is probably done via the web so forgive me that one)
I won’t spoil it by sharing the surprises, there are a few very well positioned and described, or the end which I also thought was well worked. I enjoyed that satisfaction of closing a book I’d enjoyed that ends well.
In conclusion, I wasn’t convinced anyone would really believe the plan was a good one, however it’s an engaging and thought provoking read, which could easily be transferred to the film screen.