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Bookplate Books returns and this week Kate and Rob are discussing Dominion by C.J Sansom. What did they think of this take on alternate history?
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Episode 70. An Adventures With Words production.
One thought on “Podcast: Dominion by C.J Sansom”
I really enjoyed listening to your take on Dominion. It led me to conclude that I might have been a bit too generous when I reviewed it on Good Reads – I even edited my review as a result: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/808913978
For me it worked as a combination of alternative history and thriller, but I take your point that by trying to be both it might not have fully succeeded as either. The thrillers I read tend to be by authors with a strong grounding in history, like Robert Goddard, which might mean that I have slightly different expectations of the genre than readers like yourselves who, unlike me, are also familiar with Hollywood’s idea of what makes a real thriller. The two visits to Frank in the asylum on the same day did have sufficient tension for me, perhaps I am easily made tense?
I think that Gunther’s underlying decency, despite his belief in the Nazi project, was quite intentional. It seems to me, even without reading the afterword (headed Historical Note) Sansom set out very intentionally to write an anti-nationalism novel not an anti-German one. His main purpose is to show that even decent people could be persuaded to support fascism, not least because in modern Western nations there is a strong tendency for the majority to simply keep their heads down and go along with whatever their governments are up to. Moreover, Sansom is keen to show that, in his view and in slightly different circumstances, Britain could have been just as susceptible to viscious nationalism as any othe European nation. That is why Syme is more of a villain.
You also questionned the relevance of the sections dealing with Frank’s experience at school? I have a suspicion that Sansom might be suggesting that the cruelty of the British public school system is one reason why the British ruling elite could easily have embraced Nazism. I may be wrong about that, and I certainly would not want to draw to direct a parallel here and end up sounding like the former lead singer of The Smiths in his recent assertion that there is little difference between meat eating and supporting the slaughter of the Nazi concentration camps.