Dominion by C J Sansom (Pan)
WHAT would have happened if the Germans had won the Second World War?
That’s the premise for this cracking novel. Author C J Sansom makes May 9, 1940, the critical date. His alternate history has Britain choosing a much different course than they did.
In Sansom’s world, a government lead by Lord Beaverbrook, Oswald Mosley and Enoch Powell, surrenders to avoid further conflict. Churchill is isolated and eventually has to go into hiding to form an underground resistance movement.
The narrative picks up the story’s central character David Fitzgerald, a civil servant, operating in a 1952 Britain which is now a satellite state of the Third Reich, illustrated in graphic fashion by the presence of a huge picture of Hitler hanging in the National Portrait Gallery.
Like his wife Sarah, who comes from a pacifist family, Fitzgerald prefers to stay well clear of politics although his own family background comes into focus when Britain, urged on by an impatient Germany, finally gets round to addressing its own ‘Jewish problem’.
However, the real catalyst for change in Fitzgerald’s life is when Frank Muncaster, one of his old university friends, is sent to a lunatic asylum after discovering a scientific secret which could change the world.
The resistance, aided by the Americans, embark a frantic race against the Nazis to find out what Muncaster knows.
Fitzgerald is drawn into the resistance but in doing so comes under the spotlight of the Gestapo investigator Gunther.
What follows is a unique thriller staged against a very chilling backdrop of what might have been.
Sansom also very cleverly poses the question ‘what would you have done’ once the British security services, under the instructions of their Nazi masters, started rounding up the Jews?