PAGES: 690


YEAR: 2012


The Great Smog. London. 1952. A dense, choking fog engulfs the city and beneath it, history is re-written.

Twelve years have passed since Churchill lost to the appeasers and Britain surrendered to Nazi Germany after Dunkirk. As the long German war against Russia rages on in the east, the British people find themselves under dark authoritarian rule: the press, radio and television are controlled; the streets patrolled by violent auxiliary police and British Jews face ever greater constraints. There are terrible rumours too about what is happening in the basement of the German Embassy at Senate House.

Defiance though, is growing. Winston Churchill’s Resistance organisation is increasingly a thorn in the government’s side. And in a Birmingham mental hospital, an incarcerated scientist, Frank Muncaster, may hold a secret that could change the balance of the world struggle forever.

Civil Servant David Fitzgerald, secretly acting as a spy for the Resistance, is given the mission by them to rescue his old friend Frank and get him out of the country. Before long he, together with a disparate group of Resistance activists will find themselves fugitives in the midst of London’s Great Smog; as David’s wife Sarah finds herself drawn into a world more terrifying than she ever could have imagined.

And hard on their heels is Gestapo Sturmbannfuhrer Gunther Hoth, brilliant, implacable hunter of men.


CHURCHILL WAS LAST TO ARRIVE. He knocked once, sharply and entered. Through the tall windows and warm spring day was fading, shadows lengthening on Horse Guards Parade. Margesson, the Conservative Chief Whip, sat with Prime Minister Chamberlain and Foreign Secretary Lord Halifax at the end of a long, coffin-shaped table which dominated the Cabinet room. As Churchill approached them, Margesson, formally dressed as ever in an immaculate black morning coat, stood up.


Dominion is the first Sansom novel I’ve ever read. I’ve seen Dominion is the library a few times and wanted to read it when I read the blurb on the front cover. I loved it. Sansom is another writer I want to read more of.

STRUCTURE: Dominion is split into fifty-odd chapters. The chapters are fairly short. This helps Dominion to be fairly fast paced. Sansom’s prose is not as dense as other historical fiction I’ve read (A Place of Greater Safety by Hilary Mantel) so I found it quite an easy read. Dominion does contain the odd time shift as Sansom reveals important information from the characters pasts. The overall structure of Dominion is a linear narrative. This works well. I’m a fan of linear and non-linear narratives. I’ve read an extensive amount of both. I don’t care what path the author takes to tell the story as long as I can follow what’s going on. I had no issues following Dominion. I liked the short, fast paced chapters. Dominion is a door-stop novel and I expected it to be hard going. I was pleasantly surprised by how quickly I read Dominion. The short chapters helped me race through Sansom’s novel.

PLACE: Dominion is set across different parts of Britain, primarily London.  Sansom offers us an alternative Britain in Dominion, a Britain occupied by Nazi Germany where Britain has become Hitler’s greatest ally. I can’t imagine a more frightening world. The world Sansom offers in Dominion is bleak, dark and frightening. British troops march about in SS uniforms. Jews are rounded up and deported to God knows where. British people go about saying Heil Hitler and fuhrer all the time. Citizens lie about their Jewish roots out of fear of what will happen to them. Sansom creates a real and frightening world in Dominion. One of the best things about this novel is how real the world Sansom offers is. Sansom creates an impressive sense of place in Dominion 

CHARACTERISATION: Sansom’s characterisation is spot on in Dominion. The key players are all brilliantly realised. My favourite character was Frank Muncaster. Sansom makes him such a sad, forlorn soul it was hard not to feel sorry for him and want to give him a big hug. I liked the group of Resistance members Sansom creates. Their determination to fight against the Nazi’s was touching and believable. Every character in Dominion was a real, believable and flawed human. I liked the way Sansom explores the complex relationships between the characters. The ménage a trois between David, his wife Sarah and fellow Resistance fighter Natalia was actually quite sad. David and Natalia fall in love because of their work together as part of the Resistance movement. Being thrust into life or death situations brings togetherness. My heart went out to Sarah. She had no idea David had been part of the Resistance for two years. She thought all his late meetings meant he was having an affair and actually went to confront his presumed mistress, a work colleague. Her devastation when she finds out about the Resistance and his affair with Natalia and the fact he’s a Jew and never told her is very real. I liked the fact all of the characters are very human and flawed.

PLOT: Sansom doesn’t offer anything particularly unique with Dominion. I’m sure other authors have written an alternative history set in the same period. I haven’t read any though so I thought Dominion was very original. Sansom builds the novel around what if? In this case what if Britain became Nazi occupied and Hitler’s greatest ally? The idea behind Dominion is the reason I wanted to read it. I think Sansom a great job of bringing his alternative Britain to frightening realistic life. One of the main story threads revolves around Frank Muncaster and a secret his brother, Edgar tells him, a secret that causes mild, timid Frank to push his brother out a window and apparently go insane which lands him in a mental asylum. Sansom doesn’t reveal what this big secret is until much later in the novel. I loved the tension Sansom creates by choosing to reveal this so late in the game. Dominion is more of a historical thriller than anything else. Dominion is a richly imagined novel. I thought it was great.




Day by A L Kennedy  



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