HHhH – Laurent Binet

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A book that caught my eye long before I got the chance to read it; sat on my bookshelf I could not think of a better time to read it as I prepared to leave my home and travel. About the attempted assassination of Reinhard Heydrich it follows the Czeck and Slovak whose duty it was to carry out the attempt, Joseph Gabcik and Jan Gubis.

The novel doesn’t follow a “normal” plot line. Instead Binet entwines his own life and research into the novel and how his research then affected his life. The flipping between fiction and, I dare to call it, memoir, is not done subtly as Binet tries to entwine all of his knowledge on the subject into a readable book. The book is readable before I am criticised for saying otherwise however, two thirds of the book are dominated by his life and the how the information came together into a novel. As a graduate of Creative Writing it was good to read how a subject with such history is researched and then pulled together but, we do not meet the main protagonists of the story Binet is trying to write until the final half of the novel. Perhaps a daring move to keep them on the side lines, hovering around the information until required. Binet does state at one point that the event itself is short and does not last very long which is why he keeps them back for so long and, possibly, to keep the reader going.

I cannot say that I did not enjoy the book as I did however, I could not “get into” it. The novel is amazingly researched and I enjoyed reading about the facts that Binet collected and I enjoyed reading the end of the novel. The details of the assassination attempt, how it happened and how it concluded.

I will applaud Binet in one unwavering aspect. Again, earlier within the novel Binet states that he does not know how his protagonists feel in the moment as doesn’t wish to presume so. He sticks to this while making their plight enjoyable to read at the end which is a feat unto itself. As a writer you are told to show how the character is feeling but Binet rightly points out he doesn’t know and manages to make them likeable, real characters in forgoing the showing of emotion.

I will try to read this book again at some point in my life, maybe, if, I able to publish a book of my own and see how my experience coincides with Binet’s and how all-consuming the research becomes.

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