ISBN-13: 978-1509892808 Picador
Shelf Indulgence review
Naomi Wood begins her story during Germany’s hyperinflation years in the 1920s, when a worker might heft his day’s pay home in the basket of his bicycle, and choose to buy breakfast at an inferior bakery, because by the time he’d reached a better one, the bread rolls would be more than his basket stuffed with notes could buy. Using striking examples such as this she demonstrates vividly the impact of hyperinflation on ordinary lives. The effect is magnified as she continues her narrative into the rise of Naziism and the establishment of the Third Reich, when oppressive intolerance becomes the norm.
Described by her publisher as ‘an intoxicating story of love and betrayal, set in the Bauhaus art school’, Wood’s understanding of psychology creates satisfying human interactions and authentic frailties in her characters. But it is her portrayal of the language of art and her interpretation of the complex messages it reveals – or hides – which provide depth and context to the smaller story of a group of promising Bauhaus students, set against the looming backdrop of impending world war.
There are hints of Donna Tartt’s The Secret History in the opening chapters, but for me, The Hiding Game bears a stronger affinity to Olivia Manning’s The Great Fortune – the first in her celebrated Balkan Trilogy. A world in turmoil, a growing sense of threat, and people living rich and fulfilled lives while madness rages all around are all present in The Hiding Game, as they are in Manning’s opus. And in both, we are allowed glimpses of the ugliness that results when pettiness is handed power.
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