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10 thoughts on “Winnie and Wolf

  1. says:

    Objectively this probably deserves like 12 stars But I am rounding it up this time because the elements of this book that were good were so satisfying that they outweigh the not so good Winnie Wolf is an ambitious attempt to show both how the German composer Richard Wagner's work was co opted by the Nazis and how Wagner's daughter in law Winifred could have possibly maintained her long term friendship with Hitler as the heinous elements of the Third Reich's power played out Wilson suggests that Hitler and Winnie had an affair that resulted in a child and it is for the sake of their having had a child together and for the sake of Hitler's uncle like relationship with Winnie Siegfried Wagner's four children that she blinds herself to what he is doing Other reviewers seem to think that Winnie Hitler having a sexual relationship is ludicrous I can't comment on that except to say that even if it is this is a work of fiction and for that reason Wilson can infer as he wishesThe major strength of this book is how incredibly well Wilson evokes the broken Germany in the wake of World War I susceptible to the nationalist speechifying of a figure like Hitler Wilson's narrator an unnamed assistant to Siegfried Wagner who spent time in the family's household around Winnie Hitler and who then adopted their lovechild describes how he himself was enticed by the message of the Nazis We see his evolution from hopeful believer to disillusionment providing a plausible framework for the evolution of the ordinary GermanWilson's writing style though sometimes difficult to navigate serves his narrator's voice well Towards the beginning of the book the narrator describes the German people as a whole as uiet upright and above all rational people In my experience this is accurate and the narrator's voice reflected these ualities giving the book a feeling of authenticityThe biggest stumbling block of this book is in connecting Wagner to the present story of Winnie Hitler and the Third Reich's rise to power It is clear that Wilson reveres Richard Wagner which is why he can't seem to resist sharing every single detail of the man's life with us in order to free him from history's misunderstanding At times the narrator will interrupt interesting sections of plot with a few pages of biographical Wagner information bringing everything to a grinding halt Wilson also gives complete summaries of each of his operas which I suppose is wonderful if you already love Wagner or are interested in making connections between the operatic figures and Hitler's aims I was interested in the beginning of the book but let's be real a It's 360 pages long which tends towards the long side Given that there's not much of a structured plot to the book unnecessary information becomes tedious b All of this information about particular operas is unnecessary at the end because Hitler's no longer justifying and strategizing The war for Germany is over The connection has been madeEven though I think some editing could have been done to make this less of a slog at points and to organize the story in a coherent way I would still highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical fiction evocation of place and character studies Wilson's Hitler is unsettling in his humanity In a moment of self consciousness that I liked very much the narrator remarks that in light of all of the suffering the Third Reich caused talking about Hitler as a man rather than as the Führer is probably extraneous This is true But it's also an important part of realizing why so many ordinary Germans remained loyal to him for as long as they did


  2. says:

    This is a gorgeously written book that I could not put down It is absolutely not for everyone But if you are interested in the life and music of Richard Wagner andor the strange story of how the Nazis co opted his works and perverted their meaning or if you are interested in Germany's bizarre path from tentative democracy following the Great War to becoming the evil empire under Hitler and why the German people surrendered their critical facilities and allowed Hitlerism to bring them and much of the world to the brink of destruction if you are interested in these things you will savor every page of Winnie and WolfThe premise that Winifred carried on an affair with Hitler and bore his child is absurd but it doesn't matter The author's observations about life in Bayreuth after it was usurped by Hitler is accurate to the finest detail I strongly recommend reading it after you've finished Brigitte Hamann's suberb Winifred Wagner A Life at the Heart of Hitler's Bayreuth You will see how faithful the novel is to history and you will have context to understand the cast of characters such as Hans Tietjen Houston Stewart Chamberlain Friedelind Wagner etcMesmerizing hypnotic touching and ripe with keen insights into German history and philosophy and music not to mention human nature Well what can we ask for? As I headed into the last 50 pages or so I started to read it slowly sometimes reading only one or two pages a night before bedtime because I didn't want it to end A book to cherish


  3. says:

    To enjoy this book it is essential to be fluent in the works of Richard Wagner AN Wilson titles each of the sections of the book after one of Wagner's music dramas The person story of the narrator the Wagner family and the rise of Nazism in 1930s German are underscored by the themes of the music drama in the titleIt is a very ambitious book in this regard Wilson stretches this ambitiousness by having the book narrated by N an ironically drawn character whose telling of the story seems to echo the self delusion that many average Germans practicedduring the rise of the Third Reich The multiple time periods the 'present' day 1960s Leipzig in whose dreary Communist world the narrator is writing this story the biography of Winifred Wagner and her relationship with Wolf commonly known as Hitler as well as glimpses from the life of Wagner himself as well as his wife Cosima are all deftly intermingled and comment on each other like a house of mirrorsIn his attempt to extricate Winnie from Wolf and Wolf from Wagner N makes them even indispensible to each other than we had thoughtAnd yet I still worship Wagner


  4. says:

    I found this meticulously researched novel engrossing It tells the story of the relationship between Winifred Wagner wife of Richard Wagner's son and Adolf Hitler but it's also the story of the relationship between Nazism and the German people It brought home to me something I knew intellectually but failed to grasp emotionally; how absolutely desperate the economic meltdown was in Germany between the first and second wars and how the seeds of Nazi ideology took root and flourished in this mix of humiliation economic chaos and widespread longing for rescue order and strong leadership whatever the cost I also learned a great deal about Wagner his family his music and the phenomenon of Bayreuth


  5. says:

    Very much an apology and reclamation of Wagner from the Nazis I've read other Wilson works of non fiction and I know that there are problems with his conclusions Lewis and sex for example so there's a slight sense of hmmm is this really what's going on or ??? while you read However I did learn a lot about pre Nazi Germany and the explication for the so called Good German does tie in with other sources I've read


  6. says:

    While this is fiction it certainly gives you a real insight into what was going on in Germany under Hitler The background on Wagner is interesting tooA bit confusing at first but once you get into it it is uite gripping


  7. says:

    Wanted to read this I was familiar with AN Wilson as a biographer wasn’t disappointedThis novel enjoyment will be directly proportional to your knowledge of aGermany in between wars and bWagner’s operas if you know little log both the prose is easy on the reader


  8. says:

    Brilliant worth rereading it grows on you liek a good wine


  9. says:

    Plot timeline is a occasionally a little confusing but the book as a whole is a surprising and charming history of Wagner's music life and times


  10. says:

    another that's a 35 rounded up JEEZ peoplecan we please get the 12 star thing???????rant overI do have to admit to finishing this book in one sitting I liked it didn't love it although there was something about it that really intrigued me and kept me reading What I did like was its warning about the folly of a person's or put in much wider perspective a nation's admiration for charismatic individuals leading to blindness gullibility and outright denial of said charismatic individual's ulterior motives and nefarious methodology This is a topic that is current and should be heeded For this purpose the author weaves a tale around the relationship between the daughter in law of Richard Wagner Winifred Wagner married to Siegfried Wagner and Adolph Hitler known to Wagner's children as Uncle Wolf The narrator a secretary in the Wagner household in Beyreuth relates how Winnifred became smitten with Hitler and how after her husband's death became sexually involved with him Even after such events as Krystallnacht the Night of the Long Knives the harassment of ordinary people by Hitler Youth brownshirt thugs etc Winnifred is still so taken by Hitler that she absolutely refuses to see the truth about him and his policies Wilson notes through his narrator Mr N that it wasn't just Winifred many intellectual and well educated Germans at the time were happy with the results of Hitler's economic programs less unemployment an economy that was starting to pick up and had believed that harsh authoritarian policies as a short term solution were what Germany needed in the aftermath of the reparations demanded by the Treaty of Versailles and in the aftermath of the Great Depression The belief was that after the economy was flourishing again the need for such rigid measures would disappear Yeah uh huh Right Hitler swept in played on feelings of German nationalism and bolstered it with the use of the mythology behind Wagner's operas following all of that up with his understanding of crowd psychology also noted by Mr N Fascinating stuff But there are a couple of putoffs in this book First of all I'm not a huge opera fan and have never really pictured Wagner as a likely candidate for my own personal historical study so the amount of history and personal uirks about the famous composer thrown in by the author made it feel sometimes like I was getting lectured However to be fair I think that through the narrator the author was trying to show that even though Wagner was fascinated with the Germanic mythologies and philosophers like Schopenhauer what he loved most was music and dogs and probably would not have approved of Hitler's hijacking of his work It seems to me that it was not Richard Wagner so much as Winifred Wagner who made this possible Second I didn't think the author needed to resort to Hitler and Winnifred Wagner having a and I hate this phrase love child as the basis of the story although from what I have read this was definitely a rumor that actually took on some credence in many circles The story would have been better had the author just used the narrator as an observer of what went on at Beyreuth with the Wagner family and Hitler There's really no point to it except to use it as a device around which the narrator tells the story Third this is Hitler we're talking about here and a man who planned genocide on such an epic scale had no soul maybe a desire not to lose loyal followers and their friends in the upper echelons of the social world but that's probably about it I didn't much care for any of the characters in the book except for maybe Friedelind Wagner the daughter who couldn't take any of Uncle Wolf and his raving and decided to leave Germany You can't help but wonder if she was just as disgusted with her mother This is a book that is definitely not for mainstream readers there's so much history and information in here that it can be a little tedious at times I think if you're a reader interested in the rise of National Socialism or the perils of blind acceptance of someone who is touted as being a savior then you might like it


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Winnie and Wolf Winnie and Wolf is the story of the extraordinary relationship between Winifred Wagner and Adolf Hitler that took place during the years 1925–40 as seen through the eyes of the secretary at the Wagner house in BayreuthWinifred an English girl brought up in an orphanage in East Grinstead married at the age of eighteen to the son of Germany’s most controversial genius is a passionate Germanophile a Wagnerian dreamer a Teutonic patriotIn the debacle of the post Versailles world the Wagner family hope for the coming not of a warrior a fearless Siegfried but of a Parsifal a mystic idealist a redeemer figure In 1925 they meet their Parsifal – a wild eyed Viennese opera fanatic in a trilby hat a mac and a badly fitting suit Hitler has already made a name for himself in some sections of German society through rabble rousing and street corner speeches It is Winifred though who believes she can really see his poetry Almost at once they drop formalities and call one another ‘Du’ rather than ‘Sie’ She is Winnie and he is WolfLike Winnie Hitler was an outsider Like her he was haunted by the impossibility of reconciling the pursuit of love and the pursuit of power; the ultimate inevitability if you pursued power of destruction Both had known the humiliations of poverty Both felt angry and excluded by society Both found each other in an unusual kinship that expressed itself through a love of operaIn AN Wilson’s most bold and ambitious novel yet the world of the Weimar Republic and Nazi Germany is brilliantly recreated and forms the backdrop to this incredible bond which ultimately reveals the remarkable capacity of human beings to deceive themselves

  • Hardcover
  • 368 pages
  • Winnie and Wolf
  • A.N. Wilson
  • English
  • 24 March 2016
  • 9780091796761

About the Author: A.N. Wilson

Andrew Norman Wilson is an English writer and newspaper columnist known for his critical biographies novels works of popular history and religious views He is an occasional columnist for the Daily Mail and former columnist for the London Evening Standard and has been an occasional contributor to the Times Literary Supplement New Statesman The Spectator and The Observer