This book poses an interesting question, what would happen if you could stop Adolf Hitler from being born? Ask anyone if they had the choice, would they take it and I imagine that almost everyone would say yes. When Michael, the lead character in this story has that choice he takes it with both hands. Unfortunately though, things do not go according to plan.
Stephen Fry is a British institution and a well known upper class intellectual. In this book he is clearly writing about what he knows as it focuses on a post-graduate student at Cambridge. The book is full of colour and detail and has an air of authenticity that draws you into the world effortlessly. There seems to be a significant amount of himself in the lead character and he writes as he talks. At first I found the overly intellectual mode of writing to be annoying and distracting from what the author was trying to say. Persevere though, and you’re rewarded with a charming, warm and funny story that will also make you think about history and the choices we make.
This book can easily be described a genre-defying as the time-travel premise means it clearly fits into science fiction. Don’t worry though, this book is not about spaceships or lasers as the two moments of time-travel are tiny compared to their consequences, and combined with flashbacks into the two world wars, the book fits into historical fiction as well. Is historical science fiction a genre? It is now.
This book was first published in 1996, and if you haven’t read in the last fifteen years then you should definitely go and hunt down copy. You’ll read it and imagine that it was written yesterday.