Ben Elton’s most personal novel to date, Two Brothers transports the reader to the time of history’s darkest hour.


I’m a big fan of Ben Elton and adore his writing style. I also love stories set during the Nazi period so when I saw Two Brothers in the charity shop I was thrilled.

Two Brothers starts with the birth of twins (sort of) into a Jewish family in Germany, on February 24th 1920, but in a twist of fate the Nazi party is also born on the same day.

It’s the perfect backdrop for a Holocaust novel, and if you like reading about the history of this era, you’ll be pleased to know that Two Brothers is well researched and all historical incidence are correct.

The novel follows the lives of Otto and Paulus as they grow older, and bigger and with them the Nazi party grows in size and popularity. It can really only end in one place, but the story is a surprising one. It feels a little made to fit in places, but this isn’t a criticism, it’s a beautiful woven tale of love, loyalty and pain.

We see many novels concentrating on WWII, but not many that spotlight the period when the Nazi party grew in popularity, and here we see the anti-Semitic movement grow, and we see how the Jewish community of Germany lost its freedoms, not all at once but bit by bit.

It’s a sad indictment of history, but it’s written in a light and quite funny way, making it easy to read and easy to follow. I devoured the entire book in 48 hours and was quite sad when it finished.

At the end, in an afterword Elton tells us that the story is based on two members of his own family and the struggles they faced in Germany during the 1920s and 1930s. While the book is most definitely fiction, the history is good and this is one of my favourite ways to learn history, making it one of the best novels I’ve read during 2015.

If you like novels with a strong historical base and you don’t mind reaching for the tissues, you’ll love Two Brothers.


Reviewed by:

Kath Cross

Added 2nd December 2015

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Kath Cross