I admit that my opinion of this book was coloured by the fact that I am Not a Dog Person. But not a whole lot stuck with me from this (I listened to it some months ago now), and my girls were unimpressed and did not want to finish listening to it with me, so I do not think it was just me.
My primary beef with this one was that it was very obviously propaganda: happy, cheerful chaps recounting their exploits and heroics and stating how much they can’t wait to go back and fight some more. It was interesting to me primarily as an example of something actually printed during the war, something intended as a morale-booster. Not an accurate history; there would be time for that later. This is the kind of stuff that those left behind on the home front would have been told about what was happening.
In fairness, this was clearly a thoroughly researched work. There was a lot that I found genuinely interesting in it. The approach of the various nations and the layers of What Was Going On was great, especially in Russia where WWI and the Bolshevik Revolution were simultaneously simmering. But there was so much soap opera about it too. I didn’t really LIKE most of the characters, with perhaps the exception of Billy Twice, and listening to a 30 hour audiobook about characters you don’t care about is kinda hard. HOWEVER, I know there are plenty of people who genuinely like this book a lot, so remember this is just my opinion and you don’t have to take my word for it.
For your entertainment, here are my comments to a friend as I slogged through (**SPOILERS**):
-So I am listening to Fall of Giants. I kind of like it but kind of also like O_O IT’S FREAKING 30 HOURS LONG
-I am mostly just doing it because it is one of the very few WWI era novels. I feel like it is all going to end with everyone dead or miserable.
-I can’t get over the bit where Maude gets her dude off AT THE OPERA. like… aside from the fact that they were with other people he’d literally walk off looking like he wet himself. Conveniently and frustratingly this was never addressed.
-Of course there is the token gay dude.
-Oooh, the earl’s wife is pregnant. Maybe it will be a girl and the housekeeper will have the boy. Or else wife will have another miscarriage. Women miscarry so appallingly easily in books. Also they become impregnated so easily. They just happen to be constantly fertile. Dear dude authors, pls stop projecting ur limitless fertility on ur girl characters.
-I cannot believe I am only like 1/3 through this.
-Condoms totally existed at the time, so why was the earl not being sensible. I mean, if he HAD to fork his housekeeper…
-Oh yaaay Ethel had a boy but so did the wife. I guess all these women have to lavishly procreate to keep the series going aye
-Is Lev going to do over this Olga chick BARF
-Now he has to marry her because—shock—SHE PREGNANT. But it does say Lev used condoms sometimes, so there’s that?
-Wait so supposedly earl fitzherbert’s wife had a boy but I THINK SHE IS LYING
-Wait so fitz just got shot HE BETTER NOT BE DEAD I WANTED BILLY TO BEAT HIM TO A PULP
-Oh yay the earl is trying to seduce ethel AGAIN. she needs to marry the nerdy librarian dude.
-still plugging away
-3 hours left of this book
-I kind of love Billy Williams. his standing up to Fitz is the only thing about this book that has made me smile.
-I finally finished. the ending was pretty great. Fitz had to stand aside and let Ethel and his illegitimate son pass.
Since this post has been overwhelmingly negative (eek) I’m ending with one that I DID really enjoy. This book, along with Eye-Deep in Hell, was a huge help to me in writing The War in Our Hearts. Highly recommend for anyone wanting a practical, everyday look at real life in the trenches.