A review of ‘Making History’ by Stephen Fry

*****SPOILERS BELOW*****

I have joined a book club so I’ve decided to write my first book review on my blog 😮

I LOVE ‘Making History’. This is the second time I’ve read it, and it did exactly the same thing to me this time as the last, 15 years ago: I had to ration myself reading it so it wouldn’t be over too quickly.

The main theme is: what would have happened to human history if Hitler had never existed?

That vast, universal theme doesn’t need elaboration: just think about it for a while. Would the world be better, the same or worse?

Stephen Fry being the author of course, this book is not a solemn, respectful historical account. Fry gives us an imperfect, verbose, precocious hero, student Michael Young, who doesn’t like his life and wants to change it. He meets Leo, a tormented orphan of World War 2, seeking revenge. So together, they decide to prevent Hitler from ever being born…

A secondary theme is relationships, which are presented in all their glory, from abusive, incestuous, obsessive, boring, comfortable, happy, passionate. This theme is in the background of the story, with various scenes which make us think as much as the action ones.

Be warned however, I found the book very slow to get into the action. It’s written in Fry’s chatty, conversational style, and I admit I did skip over some of the ramblings, but the action slowly snowballs ’til you can’t put the book down. So persevere if you feel a little put off by the author/ main character’s numerous tangents.

*****MAJOR SPOILERS BELOW*****

I have noticed that many reviewers have commented the gay love story is ‘tacked on’ to the main plot. But I disagree. Making the character Steve gay in ‘alternative America’ is the whole point: he’s marginalised and alone simply because he happens to be different to what is ‘acceptable’. And the gay love story fulfils another purpose: if Michael had met a girl instead of Steve, it would have taken far longer for him to realise how prejudiced and unforgiving the alternative world was. Because he likes Steve, it’s brutally pointed out how, if you don’t fit into ‘Gloder world’ you are a criminal, as simple as that. Steve is a decent man doing nothing wrong, he’s simply gay. Much like the tractor driver is doing nothing wrong, he’s simply black. They are both unacceptable in the alternative world, which is an unacceptable concept in our world.

This book made me think, however imperfect and horrible our current world can be, it could be a lot worse. We could live in a different world where everyone had to be exactly alike, with no diversity allowed.

I’ve also just realised that ‘Making History’ fits neatly into my theme: Forbidden Love can lead to Freedom. What a fortunate tangent.

I also want to note that I found some brilliant artwork about the Making History characters by someone called tabascofanatikerin. Its really worth looking at:

http://tabascofanatikerin.deviantart.com/art/Making-History-Group-192012540

 

Buy here from Amazon:

http://amzn.to/1VlpIJb

http://amzn.to/1LWRy9y

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