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Caging Skies

Narrated by: Tim Bruce
Length: 9 hrs and 50 mins
3.7 out of 5 stars (24 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The inspiration for the major motion picture ‘Jojo Rabbit’.

A gripping, atmospheric novel about obsession and love in war-time Vienna.

This extraordinary novel is seen through the eyes of Johannes, an avid member of the Hitler Youth in the 1940s. After he is severely injured in a raid, he discovers his parents are hiding a Jewish girl called Elsa behind a false wall in their large house in Vienna.  

His initial horror turns to interest, then love and obsession. After the disappearance of his parents, Johannes finds he is the only one aware of Elsa's existence in the house, the only one responsible for her survival. Both manipulating and manipulated, Johannes dreads the end of the war: with it will come the prospect of losing Elsa and their relationship, which ranges through passion and obsession, dependence and indifference, love and hate. 

This gripping, masterful work examines truth and lies at both political and personal levels, laying bare the darkest corners of the human soul.

©2019 Christine Leunens (P)2019 Hodder & Stoughton Limited

Critic Reviews

"A vivid and deeply compelling novel, Caging Skies is an existential battle of moral and ethical extremes. Christine Leunens is an adept and eloquent story teller." (Georgia Hunter, New York Times best-selling author of We Were the Lucky Ones)  

"The best part of this interesting novel is its ability to show parts of our history which others dismiss: why suffering can make some people more sensitive but others more cruel, and how a war, such an outrage to human dignity, blurs the line between the victorious and defeated." (Elle)  

"Enthralling throughout." (My Weekly)  

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Caging skies

Loved the book confronting and unexpected ending ..... cried, laughed, stunned and more. Also loved movie adaption which is drawn from book. Thank you!

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Bleak

I read this book having viewed the film JoJo Rabbit which was based on Caging Skies. I loved the quirky nature of the film, it’s tragicomic approach and the performances. I was expecting something similar in the novel and I certainly encountered the quirkiness. The charm and humanity of the main character plus the conflict that dominated his life for much of the film was absent in the book. Instead we saw the world through the eyes of a character who was extremely hard to sympathise with and, by book’s end, quite repulsive. The book is beautifully written but ultimately a tale of human disintegration and misery. I couldn’t wait for it to end.

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Great start horrible finish

Had great hope for the book given the movie Jojo Rabbit interested me. I was really disappointed, great start and then about 1/3 of the way through the storyline ended up being disturbing and uncomfortable to read. The beginning was intriguing, entering the mind of a young boy growing up in the Hitler youth but takes a dark turn in to manipulation and most likely a continuation to Stockholm syndrome.

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  • John Smith
  • 26-01-2020

Story of a disturbed boy

The story starts with the coming to power of Hitler and all the changes it brought to Austria. The boy is sucked in tothenaziideology and discovers a Jewish girl hidden by his parents in their house. Initially, he hates her but later views her as the perfect love to the point where he fails to tell her that Germany lost the war and keeps her incarcerated justifying this to himself against all moral law.. The influence of the nazis lives on in him.

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  • Nicola
  • 06-08-2020

First half good second half troubling

I genuinely enjoyed the first half of the book but couldn’t wait for the second half to end. I didn’t enjoy it at all unfortunately.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 22-06-2020

Darkly Evocative

A haunting and cautionary tale of how love and lust can poison the mind. An investigative look in to the relationship between the controlled and the controlling.

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  • Scoobeef
  • 22-02-2020

Bleak, Breathtaking, Disturbing

Really enjoyed this title. Tim Bruce gives life to Johannes Betzler in this epic tale of love, indoctrination and downright possessiveness. I watched Taika Waititi's brilliant adaptation of this book first before I'd heard of the title, however, this really goes above and beyond anything I was expecting. The characters really do have a personality and depth of their own that can't, understandably, be summarised in the space of a two hour movie. Where key differences reside, however, is not of a subject for this review. Instead, to focus on the book solely, Leunens' masterful writing centres on the degradation of humanity, first through the indoctrination experienced during the Third Reich, and later, through the bittersweet resentfulness of the two main protagonists. The ending leaves enough ambiguity as to the fate of these two, however it feels like a complete enough novel to be more than satisfied by its conclusion. This of course is aided by the brilliant Tim Bruce as narrator, who first captures young Johannes' indignation and childlike mannerisms, and later perfects the jealous, brooding, disfigured adult he inevitably grows into. Whilst this is a dark and sorrowful enough tale with a moderately bleak outlook overall, this has so much heart and honesty and strips back the covers of human nature, exposing its sour, raw underbelly. Really good, highly recommended.