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Publisher's Summary

The new novel from the award-winning writer Ben Fergusson, author of The Spring of Kasper Meier and The Other Hoffmann Sister.

In West Berlin in 1989, 18-year-old Ralf has just left school and is living a final golden summer with his three best friends. They spend their days swimming, smoking and daydreaming about the future, oblivious to the storm gathering on the other side of the Berlin Wall. But an unsettling discovery about his family and a meeting with the mysterious Oz shatters everything Ralf thought he knew about love and loyalty. And as old Cold War tensions begin to tear his life apart, he finds himself caught up in a web of deceit, forced to make impossible choices about his country, his family and his heart.

©2019 Ben Fergusson (P)2019 W. F. Howes Ltd

Critic Reviews

"The divided Berlin of the Cold War era is brilliantly resurrected on the cusp of momentous change in Ben Fergusson's An Honest Man...the novel movingly recounts Ralf's painful discoveries about love and loyalty." (Sunday Times)

"During the hot summer of 1989, a group of friends mooch about, fall in love, swim and party. All perfectly normal - except this is West Berlin which is still divided by the Wall and awash with spies and paranoia.... The author won awards for his debut, The Spring of Kasper Meier. This is equally atmospheric and thought-provoking." (Daily Mail)

"The stunning, powerful and addictive new novel by the prize-winning author of The Spring of Kasper Meier...." (Attitude Magazine)

What listeners say about An Honest Man

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  • Mulberry
  • 01-01-2020

BERLIN at its best

I was an English undergraduate in Berlin in 1979/80, 20 years before this novel was set. I found it brilliantly written in such well researched or experienced detail. It took me right back there as a student. I read reviews for the book version and it is certainly true that you feel the need to read it a second time once you get to the end. You don’t get the full picture until the final sentence. Superb writing, I’m about to download the first of the trilogy. Joe Jameson truly brought it to life with his narration.
This took #1 position and was my favourite of all the books I “read” in 1979. Thanks Ben & Joe.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Chris Holland
  • 20-12-2020

Totally worth it - no spoilers in review.

I nearly gave up on this book after nothing very much happened in the first 2 or 3 chapters. The awards and juries and judging panels have lied to me again I thought.
Then there was a flicker of interest and I persevered.
By halfway through I was totally hooked.
This became one of those stories where the temptation to move ahead and find out what happened was almost too much to resist. I successfully avoided and the climax on the night of the fall of the Berlin wall was excellent.
The story is clearly a slow burn but catches after a while.
The narration is good and at times the petulance of a group of 18-year-olds coming of age, interspersed with interactions with a wide range of late-80s Berliners is voiced with a great deal of atmosphere. Some of the narrator's voices are disconcerting in how effective their characterisation is.

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  • Kate Gould
  • 23-07-2020

Loved this book

Really liked the clever story, characters and historic details. Excellent narration. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this book. Hope you do too.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Schwep Fizz
  • 06-10-2020

A coming of age story, a spy novel and a love letter to Berlin

Listening to this book has been a delight in so many ways.... The writing is beautiful without being self consciously literary and is read by Joe Jameson, whose voice and interpretation I loved since hearing his reading of The Charioteer by Mary Renault. The main character, Ralph, follows his journey of self discovery with typical teenage angst, a word so appropriate to the setting of this book, the city of West Berlin, just before the fall of the wall. The city is lovingly described, the smells, sounds and details bringing to life the unfamiliar places and somehow combining with the quirks of the characters to give the book a wonderful sense of place. The spy story within the book is well plotted and the twists and turns are a delight. There are very few things to criticise, some characters are a bit sketchy, the need for the unexpected, as required by the spy novel genre, detracts a bit from the verisimilitude, breaking the spell occasionally, but despite this, I cannot remember the last time I derived so much pleasure from listening to an audiobook. I will rush to buy the author’s other novels and, for the first time in my life, I am drawn to Berlin, feeling compelled to visit. Oh, and this book has the best ending I’ve read, or listened to, for a long time.

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  • GTR
  • 27-01-2020

Fantastic book great twists

Another really enjoyable book from Ben Fergusson. The twists in the plot were great and kept coming right up u to the end.

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  • Caroline
  • 27-10-2021

Not bad story

This book was ok. Not great but an easy listen. The ending was too neat and fairly obvious. Some of the dialogue stretched credibility (e.g. maturity and self-awareness of teenagers wasn't realistic) but fairly enjoyable overall.

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  • Hugh M. Clarke
  • 20-10-2021

Gritty Novel, Well Performed

This is an enjoyable story about love, innocence, maturation, betrayal, disillusionment and change. The plot covers issues which are both personal and political. It is written in a frank and straightforward style, with many details of life in Germany in the 1980s. The plot is well sustained and is both tender and tense. I’m an adult, but I can see its appeal to a “young adult” readership. It is an honest account of a male, same sex relationship, set in the context of dramatic changes taking place in Germany (East and West) mainly before reunification. It is read by Joe Jameson, whose reading is always very expressive, flexible and measured.

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  • Torric
  • 10-10-2021

Excellent

Thoroughly enjoyed this. The research done for this book was amazing. So good that I thought this was perhaps the authors diary, but no. It has a biographical feel thanks to this research, but it is fiction. Written in such a way that it makes you guess what is to come and if you are like me you will get it wrong throughout. Don't expect thrills and spills, it is a lot more gentle than that but I recommend you give it a go!

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  • David
  • 30-06-2021

Berlin Years!

What a wonderful evocation of a city at a time of change.But even more the lives of a band of young friends growing up in this place.Ever true to each other, sympathetically ,with amazing understanding,the author Ben Fergusson and his brilliant reader Joe Jamieson drew me ever deeper into their lives.In particular the coming of age and the facing of life's complexities of the main character Ralf and his undying love for Oz, a Berlin born Turk. I shall miss them so much.You will be unable to put this recording in Audible or the book itself down ,if you are anything like me!!

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  • Alex
  • 06-05-2020

Gave up after three hours

I hadn't read any of the author's previous books, so didn't know what to expect, however the synopsis looked interesting so I gave it a try. I listened to between two and half and three hours of what seemed to be nothing but homosexual yearnings, waiting for it to get to something like what was suggested in the summary. I couldn't take any more of it and had to give up. The main character was supposed to be a bright pre-university student. The author presents him as more than a little gauche and awkward, but the narrator compounded that by making him sounded retarded. Three hours was enough time wasted on this rubbish.

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