I have just finished reading the nearly thousand page novel Ken Follett wrote about the period one hundred years ago when the world fell into the conflict known as "The Great War."
In my debut novel, Too Much Left Unsaid, my characters begin in that same period of history. They are ordinary Midwesterners who are changed by events over which they have no control.
But in Follett's book, Fall of Giants, his fictional characters, from England, Wales, Germany, Austria, Russia, and the United States, are written so believably that the reader sees them influencing the decisions and events that unfold as history. We see the forces of the rich and powerful pushing toward war and its glory. We see the slaughter on the battlefield where battalions of foot soldiers are mowed down by machine gun fire while being urged to advance. We see the unfolding of the Russian Revolution and the fear of the upper class that the sentiment might spread. We see the gradual, reluctant, extension of suffrage to women and laborers. We see lives of love, betrayal, strength.
Follett is an exceptional writer, able to bring the reader into the lives of coal miners, foundry workers, aristocrats and their servants, earls and princesses, unwed mothers and the charitable women who seek to help them, military leaders and common soldiers.
By the end of his book, I wanted to read more about these people. I am in luck for Fall of Giants is the first book of a trilogy that continues to tell the stories of these families in the twentieth century. I can hardly wait to read the next volume.