Did I really want to get involved with Ken Follett’s Fall of Giants – 985 pages and only Book One of a trilogy? I couldn’t resist – and here I am, with Billy Williams in the Welsh coal mines; his sister Ethel, who was appointed housekeeper at the grand mansion before sleeping with handsome Earl Fitz; Lev looking for Buffalo and landing in Cardiff; President Wilson at war with Mexico; Archduke Ferdinand of Austria assassinated.
Reading a Follett epic is like watching a movie – all the characters come together sooner or later – and thankfully he provides a six page listing of them, by country (American, English, Scottish, French, German, Austrian, Russian, Welsh) that I can use as a tally sheet as I work my way through the story.
Half-way through, and already the real historical characters are taking on an aura of believability – King George V visiting the widows of a mine explosion … great way to revisit history – the poor vs the privileged, sex across the classes, the importance of oil. Follett jumps from country to country, but he carefully chronicles events by month and year – helpfully providing the date as a header on each page – good tool for keeping those historic cross-references straight. In a little less than a thousand pages, the world turns slowly here – from June, 1911 to January, 1924.