I've been reading a lot lately, it being summer and all, mostly biographies and fiction about strong women ("Cleopatra: A Life" by Stacy Schiff is a must-read) but the two books that have stood out for me this year is Kate Atkinson's "Life After Life" and Anton Piatigorsky's "The Iron Bridge."
"Life After Life" is about a woman/girl who keeps dying and is born over and over again. Part of the story arc takes place in Berlin, where the protagonist befriends Eva Braun, Adolf Hitler's lover and, for 40 hours, his wife.
"The Iron Bridge" is composed of short stories which capture a moment in time of the childhoods of dictators, including Hitler's.
The theme of "good vs. evil"has been on my mind a lot lately. It may have to do with the fact that I'm re-watching "The Lord of the Rings" which presents "good" and "bad" people in a very limited black and white scope.
Can a person really be completely evil? History has portrayed people like Hitler, Paul Bernardo, Osama Bin Laden and Josef Stalin to be thus. And of course, one can't forget the fictional world where there are many red-eyed Sauron clones hiding in their towers and sending out their dirty, sneering minions to kill their white knight, the hobbits and elves and Aragorns of the world.
I'm more interested in the shades of grey of a person. I don't believe a person is wholly evil, whatever that term means. Even Hitler was a child who was unsullied by the world. So what happened to that person? How was he corrupted? Can we see more than the man who killed millions of Jews, homosexuals and gypsies in concentration camps? Can we also see him as the man who loved to paint, who cherished his dogs and who was loved by Eva Braun? How do you reconcile the very different sides to him? Should you?
There have been many books, historical and fictional, dedicated to Adolf Hitler. While I find them fascinating, I am more interested in the woman's point of view, in this case Eva Braun's.
I've decided to write short fiction stories as a series of letters written by Eva which will depict her relationship with Hitler through her eyes. While I am definitely not an expert in her or Hitler's life, or even in the politics that was going on before and during the Second World War, I will try my best to keep the stories historically accurate, although I'm sure I will get a lot of information and nuances wrong or I may just make stuff up. That's why it's fiction, not a history book.
First letter coming soon.