Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Winnie and Wolf

I enjoyed A.N. Wilson's 2007 novel Winnie and Wolf a great deal.  If you like this book you probably have two characteristics: (1) You're a fan of the music dramas of Richard Wagner and (2) You're interested in the history of Nazi Germany.  If you don't fall into one of those categories this might not be your novel.

"Winnie" is Winifred Wagner, the wife of Richard Wagner's son Siegfried.  "Wolf" is the affectionate nickname given to Adolf Hitler.  Hitler was an ardent fan of Wagner Operas.  During the 1920s he started going to the Wagner home at Bayreuth and became good friends with Siegfried and Winifred. In fact, the Wagner's supplied Hitler with the paper to write Mein Kampf while in prison for leading a failed coup d'etat against the government of the Weimar Republic. 

Winnie & Siegfried early in their marriage.

After Siegfried's death, rumors circulated that Hitler and Frau Wagner were about to marry.  There is no doubt that Winifred Wagner was one of Hitler's closest friends and the "Uncle Wolf" was very close to the Wagner children.  A.N. Wilson has taken these facts and extrapolates what might have happened if Winnie & Wolf's relationship had been sexual and had produced a child.

The real Winnie & Wolf

The novel is narrated by Herr N_____, whose name we never learn.  Herr N._____ served as the personal secretary to Siegfried and then to Winnie.  Although we never learn his name, Herr N_____ is a finely drawn character whom, by the end of the novel, we feel that we know intimately.  

Frau Wagner greets the Fuhrer

There is a lot of real history in this novel.  The fictional narrative is seamlessly interwoven with the real history of Germany.  Wilson also shows a deep knowledge of Richard Wagner and the Bayreuth Festival.  Wagnerians should love this book.  The novel is presented as a long letter to Herr N____'s adopted daughter who is really the love child of Winnie and Wolf.  The novel is well written and hold's the reader's interest well.

   A.N. Wilson

While this material may not be to everyone's taste, I absolutely loved it.  FIVE OUT OF FIVE viking helmets.

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