All For Nothing by Walter Kempowski


As I read this, now and then I thought of the strange insular world of Gormenghast, as though it had been dialled down into faded, if odd, normality. This isn’t a very accurate description of the book, but the eccentricity of an insular, aristocratic existence, built on strange ritual and isolation is in both. All for Nothing shows us how endlessly, drearily, certainly we have a place in the world and how quickly the world can displace us. I’ve not read anything before from the perspective of ordinary Germans about to lose the war, some in dismay that their certainties are broken, some as baffled by what will follow as they were by what has just been.

Russian guns rumble in the east as the disparate family try to decide whether to flee, where to go. A small boy caught in the amber of his isolating privilege is thrown onto the roads of a world remade in dramatic and dangerous ways.

A lovely, human, tender book.

All For Nothing by Walter Kempowski

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