Today is my stop on the blog tour for ‘A Plague on Both Your Houses’ by Ian Porter, organised by Damppebbles Blog Tours. I was delighted to participate in this tour, and I hope that you will check out both the author and the book.
*Disclaimer: ‘I was given a copy this book in exchange for an honest review.’*
It’s May 1918. The Great War is finally coming to a conclusion. The German Spring Offensive appears to be winning the war before the recent arrival into Europe of American troops can have any military effect.
But the German Home Front is struggling. The Allied blockade of foodstuffs; a poor government and a potato blight have left the German people hungry and angry. In comparison, the introduction of rationing proves a great boon to morale in Britain. And just in time too. Because the American troops have brought with them something far more deadly than their own firepower. A deadly mutated flu virus.
In the East End of London, Mr & Mrs Nash have not bought into the war. He’s a tough ex-villain who hides conscientious objectors from the authorities. But the government’s net appears to be drawing in on him. She helps Sylvia Pankhurst run a nursery, restaurant cum soup kitchen and a toy factory, as well as badger officialdom to give more help to people. And as an ex-Suffragette she knows how to both use and circumvent the law when it suits her.
In the East End of Berlin, a nurse, a farmer, a black marketer, a soldier home on leave and a rich woman with a chauffeuse are all woven together as the Germany Home Front starts to collapse into starvation, retribution and rioting. Germany can’t fight the British, the flu and themselves.
It’s a fast paced page-turner, full of action and personal relationships, as the two stories and the people of two countries come together to solve a huge problem the war and the flu has created.
This is the first book by Ian Porter that I have read, and the summary for ‘A Plague on Both Your Houses’ was enough to get my attention. The writing did the rest, and I found this book almost impossible to put down from start to finish.
The storytelling is incredibly realistic, and the time and effort the author has put into researching this period, and from both sides – Britain and Germany – which is not something you often find in literature focusing on the Home Front, shines through the entire book. However, at no point did the writing shift towards being too factual, or too much like a history book. This is fiction, based on fact, and never loses sight of that, delivering a well-written, well-paced and highly engaging story throughout, that refuses to let you go. The descriptions and characters are well developed, and bring the story too life brilliantly, and make you want to keep reading and find out what happens to them.
Returning to the historical aspect of the book, there was so much in this book that I was unaware of, similarities and differences between life on both sides of the war. That alone made it a fascinating read, opening my eyes to a part of history that is often taught in schools – albeit usually slanted in one direction over the other. But when combined with everything else that the author has achieved with his writing, it made for a fantastic book that allows the reader to feel as though they are in a different time and place.
I really enjoyed ‘A Plague on Both Your Houses’, and I would highly recommend this to others, especially anyone who loves historical fiction, and wants that blend of fact and fiction that this book provides. Personally, I will be looking to read more from Ian Porter in the future.
About the Author:
Before he turned his quill to penning novels, Ian was a professional non-fiction writer. He wrote most of the original edition of the guide book Where to Ski & Snowboard. He contributed to non-fiction work on such diverse subjects as the Suffragettes, the Titanic, Jack the Ripper and Charming Small Hotels! He now lectures and guides walks, primarily in women’s 19th and early 20th century history. Which brings us to his novels. His first, Whitechapel, is set in the East End slums of 1888 at the time of the Whitechapel Murders. His second, the highly acclaimed Suffragette Autumn Women’s Spring, is set within the Votes for Woman campaign between 1912-14. This, his third novel, A Plague on Both Your Houses, is set in 1918-19 in the final months of the Great War and the following months, during the flu pandemic, in both the East End of London and the East End of Berlin. His next novel (title to be decided) is again set in the Victorian East End and will be published later this year.
Ian has a degree in history from the University of Birmingham, where he was awarded the Chancellor’s Prize for outstanding achievement. He is married, lives in Kent and when he’s not doing research or writing, likes to play and watch lots of sport.
A Plague of Both Your Houses – Ian Porter (Published in paperback and digital formats by Troubador on 13th March 2018) – **** (4/5 Stars)
If you’ve read it or read in the future, please feel free to shout at me about this fantastic book. Or if you have any recommendations for similar books, please shoot them my way.
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