Book Title: All That I Am
Author: Anna Funder
What we liked about the book
We all agreed that it was beautifully written, powerful and sad, but with a lovely ending.
Most of us really loved it, while a few had difficulty reading it and did not enjoy it as much as Stasiland, her first book.
Anna Funder creates a strong sense of character and place. There is a great amount of detail and the historical references remind the reader that they were real people which makes it all the more engaging to read.
Dora really ‘lived’ and although her life was cut short it, she was a heroine with spirit and passion. Ruth’s admiration and love for her have poignancy in her old age. We like the character of Bev with her down to earth manner and genuine regard for Ruth.
It is a book that needs to be read in a concentrated way. It is not a ‘beach read’ as you need to keep track of the characters and events, especially in the first half. At the conclusion there is a sense that you do not want to let go and one comment was that it would be possible to go back to the start and read over again.
We particularly loved the quote from page 294 that begins “ This vast life – the real interior one …..and ends with the metaphor of fabric ..... once it is woven.”
What we did not like about the book
Some of us found Toller not very likable and his persona was egocentric and selfish. He ultimately betrayed Dora and for that was perhaps not deserving of his position. The historical events of the first part gave a sense that maybe it had been read before in another book, which raises the question of whether it is possible to write about events that are familiar, but in a uniquely different way.