This novel is a combination of three forms: fictional narrative, documentary, and drama, with the occasional intrusions of a fulsome, theatrical interlocutor who has a hand in shaping an ironic point of view.
The characters are less important than the nature of the action, perhaps not surprisingly so, given the historical importance of the signing of the cease-fire agreement in November of 1918. That event, however, is seen in the context of the personalities involved, and Keneally has used biographical materials from the real lives of the participants as well as fictional embellishments on the same to flesh out the dramatic implications of the brief, chilly confrontation which was to end World War I.
Most of the characters function within the ambit of stock typology, but Keneally allows them, through the use of personal rumination and dreams, to be modestly individual within their functions as representatives of the military and political sensibilities. Count Maiberling, for example, has a thrusting, lively personality which is interesting in itself, and his friendship with Erzberger goes beyond any use that is made of it in the workings of the German peace delegation.
Erzberger is the most obvious exception to stock characterization. Coming from modest peasant stock and having established a reputation for second-guessing the mad chauvinism which has pitched Germany into the tragic mess of the war, he is always aware of his...
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