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S. J. Parris and Stephanie Merritt

Review < Back

The Storms of War – Kate Williams's vivid portrait of Edwardian class war

Sunday 3rd August 2014

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Few subjects could be more timely or marketable than a first world war novel set around an English stately home, but historian Kate Williams's second novel is more complex than its "Atonement meets Downton" blurb might suggest. Her central characters, the de Witt family, embody all the tensions of Edwardian society: the death of empire and a rigid class system; nationalism; women's emancipation. Rudolf, the wealthy owner of canned meat factories in his native Germany, has married the daughter of impoverished English aristocracy. Their children, who have learned to live with class snobbery but never doubted their Englishness, are shocked to find their family the target of open hostility as war breaks out....

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