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A Ladder to the Sky

A Ladder to the Sky 1

by John Boyne
Publication Date: 20/08/2018
4/5 Rating 1 Review

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A psychological drama of cat and mouse, A Ladder to the Sky shows how easy it is to achieve the world if you are prepared to sacrifice your soul.

If you look hard enough, you can find stories pretty much anywhere. They don’t even have to be your own. Or so would-be writer Maurice Swift decides very early on in his career.

A chance encounter in a Berlin hotel with celebrated novelist Erich Ackermann gives him an opportunity to ingratiate himself with someone more powerful than him. For Erich is lonely, and he has a story to tell. Whether or not he should do so is another matter entirely.

Once Maurice has made his name, he sets off in pursuit of other people’s stories. He doesn’t care where he finds them – or to whom they belong – as long as they help him rise to the top.

Stories will make him famous but they will also make him beg, borrow and steal. They may even make him do worse.

Contemporary fiction
Publication Date:
Transworld Publishers Limited
Country of origin:
United Kingdom
Dimensions (mm):
John Boyne

John Boyne was born in Ireland in 1971. He is the author of ten novels for adults, five for young readers and a collection of short stories.

Perhaps best known for his 2006 multi-award-winning book The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas, John’s other novels, notably The Absolutist and A History of Loneliness, have been widely praised and are international bestsellers.

In 2015, John chaired the panel for the Giller Prize, Canada’s most prestigious literary award. The Heart’s Invisible Furies is his most ambitious novel yet.

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1 Review

ooh this tale of jealousy and powerful ambition is brilliantly written and terrifyingly taunt. It’s as if The Talented Mr Ripley has resurfaced in the world of writers, novels,literary ambition and the struggle to get on that ladder as an aspiring author.

A young man befriends a writer, gives him a manuscript to read but it’s not that good, but the author decides to take him under his wing anyway as an assistant ( and possibly more Learning about the literary world is going to be fun and useful to him isn’t it? Well at first yes, but what happens when the ‘student’ believes that he infact is the teacher?

Oh the wonder of going on a literary tour around the countries and cities of Europe. This is the life Maurice has dreamed of and now he has even a loose foothold in it, he’s going to make sure that he never leaves it. No matter WHAT it takes. As I read I felt a collective gasp and shiver from authors everywhere.

But the literary world here is awash with talent, ambition and great writing, yet also boasts its own branch of privilege, jealousies and that ambition that has escaped from its cage and is instead darting about in every direction, getting rid of anything that stands in its way. When Maurice starts to find out about Erich experiences growing up in Germany under Hitler, he then finds out about the secret Erich has harboured for years. Maurice now has the bait to attack his caged victim.

Whilst this struggle for dominance, control bubbles furiously, the lush locations float by as do key figures from the world of fiction, art, politics and culture making this a great background of a world rich with creative outlets, but also one, for some, ripe for the picking.

And the locations move from Berlin, to Europe, to the USA where we follow Maurice’s quest for literary dominance. As he picks men up along the way, he wants them for their minds, their ideas more than anything else. But what can be the end of this, a great book? Great until the next budding writer comes along with something greater? Then what? Does the cycle begin again?

I applauded the ending. There’s so much to dissect here – in book clubs now wouldn’t that be ironic given the themes.? Deliciously dark and compelling.

Contains Spoilers No
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