In my opinion Robert Harris as an author is a force to be reckoned with - I first read Pompeii, one of his early books, about the days before the tragic eruption of Vesuvius and was vividly transported into the lives of those who perished. I visited Pompeii a few years ago and was reminded again of the lives of those depicted in the novel. As a storyteller the author is skilled and accessible bringing to each page the lives of those such as Cicero who have lived through such historic events as well as those whose lives have not been in anyway momentous – but he makes them live in our heads and we care what happens to them. He covers a wide range of topics from Pompeii to the early Romans (Imperium, Lustrum and Dictator) to the code breakers of the Enigma machine during WW2, to the V2 rockets built in Germany during the war. Fatherland is also based during WW2 though in a world were Hitler wins, and Archangel is based in later years in Russia.
Conclave is a fascinating fictional insight into the selection of the next pope as all the Cardinals gather to vote in closed quarters. It sounds as if it should be boring but is as intriguing as any mystery as we are introduced to each Cardinal and the tensions that build between them with an unexpected twist at the end.
Ghost is more modern with a focus on a ghost writer who has been engaged to write the biography of a washed up Prime Minister. It is a story that allegedly came about after the author’s relationship with Tony Blair broke down, with loosely veiled references to actual events turned into an enjoyable political thriller. It has been made into a film by Roman Polanski which you may have seen under the title of Ghost Writer – my memory is that the ending is changed in the film but I could be mistaken.
More recently there is The Fear Index (now also made into a tv series featuring Wall Street and the world of investment), An Officer and a Spy (based on the Dreyfus Affair) and now Act of Oblivion which returns to the historic times of the 1600’s in Oliver Cromwell’s time. At the time of writing this I am over half way through The Act of Oblivion and am thoroughly invested in the story of the hunt for the ‘regicides’ – the 59 judges who tried Charles 1 and condemned him to death. Alternating between the events in London leading to the gruesome execution of those accused and the relentless hunt for those who had escaped to the Netherlands and New England, the known historical facts are fictionalised into a fascinating tale. For those of us who are not great with history- it is a great way to learn a bit. It spurs me on to research the events described so becoming slightly more informed than before. I find it fascinating how the author can build an authentic world for us across continents and generations, recreating such legendary events.
As you can tell I am a fan of his writing – he is never boring and each of his books are so different I find it fascinating to be transported somewhere different each time. His background as an investigative journalist shows in his writing, his research and his skill in storytelling.
Most of these titles are available as eBooks to download through our Libby and Borrowbox Apps with the more recent also being available as hard copies in our branch libraries.
Search Results for robert harris (Libraries NI Catalogue)
Let me know what you think of his writing – any other fans out there?