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From the bestselling author of The Blasphemer, shortlisted for the Costa Novel Award and a Richard & Judy Bookclub Pick It is the early 1930s, and Europe is holding its breath. As Hitler's grip on power tightens, preparations are being made for the Berlin Olympics. Leni Riefenstahl is the pioneering, sexually-liberated star film-maker of the Third Reich. She has been chosen From the bestselling author of The Blasphemer, shortlisted for the Costa Novel Award and a Richard & Judy Bookclub Pick It is the early 1930s, and Europe is holding its breath. As Hitler's grip on power tightens, preparations are being made for the Berlin Olympics. Leni Riefenstahl is the pioneering, sexually-liberated star film-maker of the Third Reich. She has been chosen by Hitler to capture the Olympics on celluloid but is about to find that even his closest friends have much to fear. Kim Newlands is the English athlete 'sponsored' by the Blackshirts and devoted to his mercurial, socialite girlfriend Connie. He is driven by a desire to win an Olympic gold but to do that he must first pretend to be someone he is not. Alun Pryce is the Welsh communist sent to infiltrate the Blackshirts. When he befriends Kim and Connie, his belief that the end justifies the means will be tested to the core. Through her camera lens and memoirs, Leni is able to manipulate the truth about what happens when their fates collide at the Olympics. But while some scenes from her life end up on the cutting room floor, this does not mean they are lost forever... PRAISE FOR THE BLASPHEMER: 'A great achievement...remarkable.' Melvyn Bragg 'A book that won't leave your fingernails intact' Daily Mail 'A fine novel...unforgettable.' The Times 'Beautiful...exhilarating.' Sunday Telegraph 'A constantly engaging and witty novel from a tremendously clever writer.' Telegraph


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From the bestselling author of The Blasphemer, shortlisted for the Costa Novel Award and a Richard & Judy Bookclub Pick It is the early 1930s, and Europe is holding its breath. As Hitler's grip on power tightens, preparations are being made for the Berlin Olympics. Leni Riefenstahl is the pioneering, sexually-liberated star film-maker of the Third Reich. She has been chosen From the bestselling author of The Blasphemer, shortlisted for the Costa Novel Award and a Richard & Judy Bookclub Pick It is the early 1930s, and Europe is holding its breath. As Hitler's grip on power tightens, preparations are being made for the Berlin Olympics. Leni Riefenstahl is the pioneering, sexually-liberated star film-maker of the Third Reich. She has been chosen by Hitler to capture the Olympics on celluloid but is about to find that even his closest friends have much to fear. Kim Newlands is the English athlete 'sponsored' by the Blackshirts and devoted to his mercurial, socialite girlfriend Connie. He is driven by a desire to win an Olympic gold but to do that he must first pretend to be someone he is not. Alun Pryce is the Welsh communist sent to infiltrate the Blackshirts. When he befriends Kim and Connie, his belief that the end justifies the means will be tested to the core. Through her camera lens and memoirs, Leni is able to manipulate the truth about what happens when their fates collide at the Olympics. But while some scenes from her life end up on the cutting room floor, this does not mean they are lost forever... PRAISE FOR THE BLASPHEMER: 'A great achievement...remarkable.' Melvyn Bragg 'A book that won't leave your fingernails intact' Daily Mail 'A fine novel...unforgettable.' The Times 'Beautiful...exhilarating.' Sunday Telegraph 'A constantly engaging and witty novel from a tremendously clever writer.' Telegraph

43 review for The Dictator’s Muse

  1. 5 out of 5

    Paromjit

    Nigel Farndale focuses on the pre-WW2 years in Germany and England, the rise of Hitler in the 1930s and Oswald Mosley's British Union of Fascists, the Blackshirts. Leni Riefenstahl, the innovative and sexually liberated film maker loved by Hitler and seen as the Nazis poster girl, her propaganda film, The Triumph of the Will elevated Hitler to a Wagnerian deity, a messiah for the German nation. She is entrusted with filming the 1936 Berlin Olympics (Olympia), where the black Jesse Owens upsets G Nigel Farndale focuses on the pre-WW2 years in Germany and England, the rise of Hitler in the 1930s and Oswald Mosley's British Union of Fascists, the Blackshirts. Leni Riefenstahl, the innovative and sexually liberated film maker loved by Hitler and seen as the Nazis poster girl, her propaganda film, The Triumph of the Will elevated Hitler to a Wagnerian deity, a messiah for the German nation. She is entrusted with filming the 1936 Berlin Olympics (Olympia), where the black Jesse Owens upsets Germany's propaganda apple cart by winning 4 gold medals. In 2005, 32 year old Sigrun Meier is at Leni's home, her will granting Meier sole access to her film archives, where a short film of a unknown blonde British athlete has her embarking on a journey to find out more about him, a mission that is to have personal implications for her. Kim Newland is an impoverished, good looking British athlete with ambitions of winning more than one gold medal at the Olympics which he hopes will make him an acceptable prospect for his girlfriend Connie's aristocratic family. She is a shallow lightweight social butterfly, taking nothing seriously, even flirting with the idea of joining the Blackshirts. Kim is struggling to find enough time to train, he has to work, having failed to secure any finance, as a last resort he is desperate enough to join the BUF, to attain funds from Mosley. Alun Pryce is a passionate radical, a Welsh communist agitator, who is responsible for the serious injuries sustained by Connie at a Blackshirts rally. Feeling guilt, he gets to know her in the hospital, becoming close to Connie and Kim, a friendship that develops into love for Connie, spiraling into obsession, and an out of control jealousy. Tasked with infiltrating the BUF, Alun is in Berlin with Connie, where Newland catches the eye of Leni, and where a fateful set of events follow that are to haunt all of them in the future. I thought this was a terrific piece of historical fiction, but I did have a few problems with it. The role of Sigrun feels like a clumsy insertion to fulfil a specific function, she appears only at the beginning and the end of the novel, and I felt uneasy at the more benign depiction by the author of Leni and her relationship with the Nazis, and Kim and Connie's membership of the BUF, compared with that of Alun, a communist and committed antifascist, who played a central role in the Battle of Cable Street. Otherwise, this is a great and fascinating read, that will appeal to those wanting to know more about the iconic film maker Leni Riefenstahl and for those interested in this turbulent period of history. Many thanks to the publisher for an ARC.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Phrynne

    The Dictator's Muse is an interesting piece of fiction, based on facts, and set just prior to WW2. Central to the story is Leni Riefenstahl, famous as being a maker of propaganda films at the time and for contributing hugely to the Hitler myth in Germany. Set around her are a mix of real people and fictional characters. For me the most important character was Kim Newland, a fictional athlete who goes to the 1936 German Olympics and competes against the famous Jesse Owens. Sadly he chooses his fri The Dictator's Muse is an interesting piece of fiction, based on facts, and set just prior to WW2. Central to the story is Leni Riefenstahl, famous as being a maker of propaganda films at the time and for contributing hugely to the Hitler myth in Germany. Set around her are a mix of real people and fictional characters. For me the most important character was Kim Newland, a fictional athlete who goes to the 1936 German Olympics and competes against the famous Jesse Owens. Sadly he chooses his friends unwisely. His girlfriend, Connie and best friend Alun are the kind of characters you love to hate. The author has done a great deal of research and does not hesitate to delve into the politics, attitudes and events of the day, in Britain, in Germany and even in America. Some readers may feel he is a little too generous towards the actions of a few of his characters. After a fairly robust and factual story however the book loses direction at the end and becomes a little too fantastical. I found this disappointing but it does not change the fact that it is certainly worth reading. Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read and review this book.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jeanette Lewis

    Many thanks to Netgalley, Doubleday and Penguin Random House UK for the opportunity to read this fabulous book and for my opinion and review. Sigrun Meier approaches the door with some trepidation, here she is at the home of Helene "Leni" Riefenstahl, famous film producer who achieved worldwide accolades and was creator of the propaganda films for Hitler, speculation was that it was her brilliance that created the Hitler myth. Sigrun had completed her PhD on Leni and while alive she had attempte Many thanks to Netgalley, Doubleday and Penguin Random House UK for the opportunity to read this fabulous book and for my opinion and review. Sigrun Meier approaches the door with some trepidation, here she is at the home of Helene "Leni" Riefenstahl, famous film producer who achieved worldwide accolades and was creator of the propaganda films for Hitler, speculation was that it was her brilliance that created the Hitler myth. Sigrun had completed her PhD on Leni and while alive she had attempted to meet her but with each trip to this famous house her efforts stayed fruitless, rejected on each occasion. Now here she is and as stipulated in Leni's Will, she alone will be able to view all the archived films. While in this process, a surprise captures Sigrun's attention, a clip of Jesse Jackson, the 1936 Berlin Olympics and with him a blond good looking British athlete. Sigrun reflects; typically Leni, always attracted to this type of masculinity. Contrary to what she has been instructed Sigrun makes the decision to keep this small film clip and to try and discover something about the young man. The read goes back in time to create an outlining story that will involve a young Englishman, an aspiring Olympian and his association with Leni Riefenstahl along with an English girl Connie and a Welshman, Alun. London 1933 Kim Newland, a hurdler and now through circumstances an aspiring broad jumper in training for the Berlin Olympics. He has an upper class girlfriend Connie, her father, a Lord and he knows as a penniless athlete he is out of her league. However, with the expectations of a Gold Medal in 3 years time he feels this achievement would serve him well. Through his circumstances and with time running out for him to find a financial sponsor he makes a fateful decision. He joins the Blackshirts with the view of acquiring one. The Olympics are purely for amateur participation and specific guidelines are in place regarding financial assistance. On another political side, Alun Pryce, a dedicated Communist has an impressive arsenal of weapons to assist in the members' infiltration at the Blackshirts' next rally. In the foray of the rally of opposing sides and with the violence Connie is badly hurt and Alun is knocked out. Both are taken to hospital where, Alun on becoming conscious discovers that it was probably one of his particularly nasty projectiles that wounded her. In speaking to Connie she recognises his Welsh accent and Alun in turn discovers that she is the daughter of Lord Dalton whom his mother works for as a scullery maid. Alun, due to his exceptional intellect through one of his teachers convincing his parents of his potential has been well educated and from the influence of university he has formed his political allegiance. He forms an attachment to Connie that moves to obsession and jealousy. He infiltrates the Blackshirts as a spy to gain the trust of Kim and Connie and armed with the information of Kim's bursary, financial sponsorship Alun sets about to expose him. All the while in Germany Leni is having to deal with the nasty Dr Goebbels who idolises her and it's only in his position as Reich Minister of Propaganda and Hitler's closest confidant that Leni while despising the little man is fully aware of his power and needs to be constantly on guard. However, her mind is concentrating on her next project, a film about the upcoming Nuremberg Rally, The Triumph of Will. The read continues with the story of Leni giving great detail of this famous woman. 1936 all head off to Berlin, Connie pays for Alun to accompany her. By now his obsession with her has increased and his undermining of her relationship with Kim picks up pace. Kim on the other hand has settled into the Olympic Village and during a training session Leni introduces herself to him. She is really taken by this good-looking Englishman and with her now in the position as the producer of the propaganda film for the event uses this guise to impose herself on him. Kim's Olympic dream is shattered and with Alun constantly on his case to Connie, she ends the relationship and returns to England. Leni picks up the pieces of Kim's life and offers him some sanctuary until he returns to England where he attempts to contact Connie, however Alun is always there manipulating the truth. Finally Kim comes to realise all of Alun's lies for which he confronts him, not to be out maneuvered Alun plans a trap for Kim. Finally returning to the present, Sigrun travels to England to research the story on Kim Newland and with some assistance she is able to discover some detail about him, Connie and Alun. With FOI changes she is given a sealed envelope. Both Connie and Alun are still alive and finally as she brings these two old people together and with the sealed government document in hand, Alun is confronted with his past deeds. Connie on the other hand recognises the ring Sigrun wears for which the final piece of the puzzle is put into place.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Sid Nuncius

    I was slightly underwhelmed by The Dictator’s Muse. I enjoyed The Blasphemer very much but I didn’t think this had quite the same focus or impact. I’m very cautious about reading novels about the Nazi era, but Leni Riefenstahl is an interesting and complex subject and I trusted Nigel Farndale to write a well researched and non-exploitative book about her. I was right in that the research and tone were good, but this book is only rather tangentially about Riefenstahl. She is a major character, but I was slightly underwhelmed by The Dictator’s Muse. I enjoyed The Blasphemer very much but I didn’t think this had quite the same focus or impact. I’m very cautious about reading novels about the Nazi era, but Leni Riefenstahl is an interesting and complex subject and I trusted Nigel Farndale to write a well researched and non-exploitative book about her. I was right in that the research and tone were good, but this book is only rather tangentially about Riefenstahl. She is a major character, but the real focus of the book is a tangled love triangle between Connie, an aristocratic woman, Kim, a working class athlete who is secretive about both his class and his Jewish roots and Alun, a passionate communist. These three become involved in the politics of the period leading up to the 1936 Berlin Olympics; Kim joins Moseley’s blackshirts because he needs their sponsorship to compete and Alun does the same to infiltrate and subvert the movement. This dominates much of the novel, with Riefenstahl playing an important but not a central role. I was disappointed by this, especially as I found the fictional characters a little implausible; they’re certainly not stereotypes, but they do feel rather familiar and slightly artificial, as though they have been created specifically to illustrate the points which Farndale is making. He does have things to say about love, conflicts of loyalty, extremism and whether ends justify means, for example, but I wasn’t sure I was getting anything really new here. Add to this a slightly clunky structure of the 1936 action being framed by a 21st-Century researcher making some slightly implausible discoveries about Riefenstahl and the book wasn’t as insightful as I’d hoped. On the plus side, Farndale writes well, the prose carries you along nicely, there are some very gripping scenes – a quietly terrifying visit from Heydrich, for example - and I did read to the end. It’s by no means a bad book and plenty of people will enjoy it, I suspect; it’s just that I’d hoped for more. (My thanks to Doubleday for an ARC via NetGalley.)

  5. 5 out of 5

    Susan Hampson

    Although Leni Riefenstahl had established herself as a successful actress in Germany, when she moved to the other side of the camera she found her greatest fame and the eye of Der Führer, Adolf Hitler. Riefenstahl had been commissioned to make a film of Hitler, ‘Triumph of the Will’ released in 1935 that was a great success in promoting him as a worthy world leader. In 1936 Berlin was to host the Olympic games, and Riefenstahl was to capture it on film. Rumours were already circulating of an affa Although Leni Riefenstahl had established herself as a successful actress in Germany, when she moved to the other side of the camera she found her greatest fame and the eye of Der Führer, Adolf Hitler. Riefenstahl had been commissioned to make a film of Hitler, ‘Triumph of the Will’ released in 1935 that was a great success in promoting him as a worthy world leader. In 1936 Berlin was to host the Olympic games, and Riefenstahl was to capture it on film. Rumours were already circulating of an affair between Hitler and her, something she denied but played on too. The thing that made her different from other filmmakers of the time were the unusual angles she filmed from, which could put a whole new light on a subject. The story starts with a young woman, Sigrun Meier, arriving at the property where Riefenstahl had died in 2005. Meier had on numerous occasions asked to speak with her but had been refused. But she had left it in her will that Meier will be allowed to view footage of films that no one else had seen. There are numerous offcuts of film, showing the 1936 games containing footage of an unknown young English man. There is a web of stories all taking place at once, all connected by the actions and choices they make. It all felt natural and real to me, with historical names and stories blending with fiction with precision. Riefenstahl was quite a character, a bit of a tease, very talented and full of confidence, but there is a place in this story that took my breath and brought her back to look at her mortality up close. A brilliant top story, it flows beautifully with love, hopes, desires and propaganda of the time. Fascinating, engaging and terrifying. I wish to thank Net Galley and the publisher for an e-copy of this book which I have reviewed honestly.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Lady Fancifull

    Whitewashing those who flirted with the Blackshirts? Sadly, I was less enchanted with this one than I had hoped. There are always certain challenges with writing more recent historical, using real people interwoven with fictional ones. In some ways this is less about Riefenstahl, and more about a triad of invented characters who have complex relationships with each other. Connie, the Honourable Constance Lavinia Emily Dalton, is a kind of stand-in for those Mitfords who were more attracted to the Whitewashing those who flirted with the Blackshirts? Sadly, I was less enchanted with this one than I had hoped. There are always certain challenges with writing more recent historical, using real people interwoven with fictional ones. In some ways this is less about Riefenstahl, and more about a triad of invented characters who have complex relationships with each other. Connie, the Honourable Constance Lavinia Emily Dalton, is a kind of stand-in for those Mitfords who were more attracted to the far-right, giddy, bold, entitled and often unthinking. Kim Newlands is a promising athlete who flirts with membership of Mosley’s party, partly for reasons connected with his athletic hopes for the 1936 Olympics, partly because Connie, whom he is in love with is attracted towards the ‘style’ aspects of the British Union of Fascists, and has absorbed the cultural thinking of her class. Finally there is a character whose political sympathies are very different. Mainly set before the outbreak of war, when fascism was certainly on the rise, both in Germany and in this country. 1933-1936, there is also a bookend device of dual timescale. Sigrun Meier, a woman in her 30’s, a film historian who is obsessed/fascinated by Riefenstahl, is investigating her life and work in 2005. I wasn’t always particularly convinced by the Meier sections. I’m trying to avoid spoilers, but all I can say, particularly of the final sections, is credulity was stretched to breaking point, given normal lifespans. Yes, I know that Riefenstahl was 101 when she died in 2003, but given law of averages, writers of fiction should probably avoid having too many characters achieving exceptional longevity outside carehomes. Sometimes I was over-aware of too much research being heavily inserted (a meeting between Riefenstahl and Hitler in one of his apartments, which gets described (the apartment) in perhaps too much detail. One of my major problems, causing me to feel somewhat uneasy, is that there is a definite whitewash of the central fictional characters who get drawn in to connection with the BUF – and even Leni herself is sympathetically handled. The most perfidious character, almost from the off, is a communist. Somehow, our flirters with the BUF are characters who at core, are moral, and their connection was not who they really are, it was just some kind of foolish young mistake. I’m stumped here, as to say more is to really reveal spoilers, but I found the apportioning of villainry quite disturbing

  7. 4 out of 5

    Hristina Todorova

    "Музата на диктатора" от Найджъл Фарндейл е исторически роман, който ни запознава с ключов период от живота на Лени Рифенщал. За времето си е била талантлив и надарен режисьор, олицетворение на феминистката философия, любимка на Хитлер, помогнала му в набирането на популярност, последователи и в крайна сметка власт чрез режисирани от нея филми. Така представена, Лени буди противоречиви чувства. Но всъщност романът ни дава по-дълбок поглед върху нейния характер- разказва ни за отношението й към и "Музата на диктатора" от Найджъл Фарндейл е исторически роман, който ни запознава с ключов период от живота на Лени Рифенщал. За времето си е била талантлив и надарен режисьор, олицетворение на феминистката философия, любимка на Хитлер, помогнала му в набирането на популярност, последователи и в крайна сметка власт чрез режисирани от нея филми. Така представена, Лени буди противоречиви чувства. Но всъщност романът ни дава по-дълбок поглед върху нейния характер- разказва ни за отношението й към изкуството, за несподелената й любов, за самотата, на която сама се обрича. Ако се разровим още по-надълбоко, реално четем книга, която разказва как работи механизма на пропагандата, как политиката се намесва в отношенията между хората, как диктаторът търгува с мечти, амбиции, надежди и страхове. Романът ми хареса - любопитен и по-различен поглед върху набиращата популярност нацистка партия и атмосферата в средата на 30-те години.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jean-Luc

    The dictator's muse is a very captivating, very engrossing and very well crafted story about people caught up into the powerful and often violent historical maelstrom of the pre-war years in Europe, a tale of angst, betrayal, enduring love and political survival. In 1933 Leni Riefenstahl was a rising star within Hitler's inner sanctum. A much admired actress in Germany, she had become also a talented and much seeked after filmmaker that enabled the Nazi propaganda machine to flourish after their The dictator's muse is a very captivating, very engrossing and very well crafted story about people caught up into the powerful and often violent historical maelstrom of the pre-war years in Europe, a tale of angst, betrayal, enduring love and political survival. In 1933 Leni Riefenstahl was a rising star within Hitler's inner sanctum. A much admired actress in Germany, she had become also a talented and much seeked after filmmaker that enabled the Nazi propaganda machine to flourish after their successful power grab earlier that year. By 1935 her movie "Triumph of the Will" had definitively established Hitler as the Supreme Leader. Keenly aware that she must keep herself on her toes at all times when navigating the treacherous waters that surround the Fuhrer, she is about to write, direct and produce her masterpiece, "Olympia" the propaganda film about the 1936 Olympic Games she has been commissioned to make... Nick Newlands is a young British athlete who dreams to win 3 gold medals at the upcoming games of 1936. Coming from a very modest background and without any family, Nick is eager to find a sponsor in order to secure funding for his training. Unfortunately Nick will bet on the wrong horse by accepting financial aid from Sir Oswald Mosley and his Blackshirts, shattering his dreams of olympic glory and sealing his fate once and for all.... Leni and Kim will come across each other in Berlin during the summer of 1936..... This magnificent novel lingered in my mind for several days. Its beautifully drawn characters, its suspenseful plot and its perfect historical atmosphere offered me an unforgettable reading experience. A novel that I will probably read again and again. Many thanks to Netgalley and Random House UK/ Transworld Publihers for giving me the opportunity to read this wonderful novel prior to its release date

  9. 5 out of 5

    Mandy

    Europe in the 1930s and in Germany preparations are being made for the 1936 Olympics. Leni Riefenstahl is tasked with filming them for posterity. Back in England hopeful but poor athlete Kim Newlands is training hard for his chance of Olympic gold even if that means accepting sponsorship from Oswald Mosley and his infamous Blackshirts. Connie is a charming aristocratic young woman who encourages him to join this nascent Fascist organisation. Alun Pryce is a Communist tasked with infiltrating it. Europe in the 1930s and in Germany preparations are being made for the 1936 Olympics. Leni Riefenstahl is tasked with filming them for posterity. Back in England hopeful but poor athlete Kim Newlands is training hard for his chance of Olympic gold even if that means accepting sponsorship from Oswald Mosley and his infamous Blackshirts. Connie is a charming aristocratic young woman who encourages him to join this nascent Fascist organisation. Alun Pryce is a Communist tasked with infiltrating it. Both men fall in love with Connie, leading to predictable conflicts. So it’s a tangled web all round, a mixture of fact and fiction, real-life characters and made-up ones, plots and sub-plots, which on the whole the author weaves together fairly successfully. There are some false notes, admittedly. An imagined scene between Riefenstahl and Hitler feels clumsy. Leni herself talks in clichés throughout and is the least convincing character. The novel is framed by the work of Sigrun Meier, a present-day film historian, who is researching Riefenstahl and gets caught up with the stories of the other characters, and this is the least successful aspect of the novel, particularly with the ending which stretches credulity just too far, and the tying up of loose ends becomes too far-fetched. Having said that, I did enjoy the book on the whole. The narrative is fast-paced and carries the reader along, the adventures and mishaps of the characters are entertaining and mainly convincing, so with a few reservations, I found it an entertaining and compelling read as long as I let my critical faculties take a bit of a back seat.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Andrea Hicks

    My thanks to Nigel Farndale, Random House and Net Galley for the ARC of THE DICTATOR'S MUSE. A very interesting book about Leni Riefenstahl, a film maker who was chosen by Adolph Hitler to make a film about the 1939 Olympic Games in Germany. Kim Newlands is a British athlete who finds himself caught up with the Blackshirts and when they offer to sponsor him, he cannot resist. His socialite girlfriend Connie thinks it's a hoot to become a Blackshirt and doesn't take it seriously, but when she's i My thanks to Nigel Farndale, Random House and Net Galley for the ARC of THE DICTATOR'S MUSE. A very interesting book about Leni Riefenstahl, a film maker who was chosen by Adolph Hitler to make a film about the 1939 Olympic Games in Germany. Kim Newlands is a British athlete who finds himself caught up with the Blackshirts and when they offer to sponsor him, he cannot resist. His socialite girlfriend Connie thinks it's a hoot to become a Blackshirt and doesn't take it seriously, but when she's injured at a rally, everything changes for them, particularly when the person who threw the missile that injured her befriends them. Alun Price, a member of the Communist Party who infiltrates the Blackshirts feels guilty when he sees what injury he has caused Connie, but his guilt turns to desire for her and he is determined to get Kim out of the picture. When Leni falls for Kim Alun does everything he can to make sure he is caught with her even if it is innocent and he lies to Connie about Kim's real feelings. In another time Sigrun Meier is a historian exploring the life of Leni, and the tale Nigel Farndale tells weaves the stories of both women together in a very surprising ending.

  11. 4 out of 5

    D Jackson

    A seemingly innocent line-up of athletes waiting for the opening ceremony of the Berlin Olympics. That moment captured on camera by Leni Riefenstahl, a prominent film-maker favoured by Hitler, sparks an investigation by a modern-day expert film restorer. In this historical novel Farndale raises questions about issues and long-held assumptions surrounding the nazi era whilst creating a more personal story woven around his main characters. ‘The Dictator’s Muse’ includes many factual details that ma A seemingly innocent line-up of athletes waiting for the opening ceremony of the Berlin Olympics. That moment captured on camera by Leni Riefenstahl, a prominent film-maker favoured by Hitler, sparks an investigation by a modern-day expert film restorer. In this historical novel Farndale raises questions about issues and long-held assumptions surrounding the nazi era whilst creating a more personal story woven around his main characters. ‘The Dictator’s Muse’ includes many factual details that make this credible and interesting reading but the character of Leni sometimes seemed just that little too annoyingly shallow for me. But, perhaps she was or had to be to survive? Certainly this makes good reading for those who like historical fiction from that era, especially with the approach it adopts. Thank you to Transworld Publishers (Penguin Random House) and NetGalley for this free copy in exchange for an honest review.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Kaye Fraser

    This book is set in both the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, and the build up to the Second World War, and concerns revolutionary film maker, Leni, her lover, a British athlete, and in the modern day, an academic researcher fascinated by the period and the life of Leni in particular. The period was compelling in its juxtaposition of extreme right and extreme left wing views, and the story explores both with excellent research and deeply human stories. If all this makes the book sound terribly wort This book is set in both the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, and the build up to the Second World War, and concerns revolutionary film maker, Leni, her lover, a British athlete, and in the modern day, an academic researcher fascinated by the period and the life of Leni in particular. The period was compelling in its juxtaposition of extreme right and extreme left wing views, and the story explores both with excellent research and deeply human stories. If all this makes the book sound terribly worthy, it’s not. What it is is a cracking good story, with the added impact of the tensions in Europe at the time giving it extra impact. I can’t recommend this book highly enough for its research, its characterisations and its readability - it’s one of those books that will stay with the reader long after it ends.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Svetlana Tishchenko

    Leni Riefenstahl's German actress, movie director slogan 'I am not interested in politics, only art' was her motto and her undoing. When it comes to the gist of things, one cannot separate art (cinema) from politics (Nazism) especially when it comes to the woman loved by the highest Hitler's followers and even Furer himself, and director who is infamous for making the best Nazi propaganda films. I thought The Dictator's Muse would be a story of Leni Riefenstahl, her talent and escapades. But it t Leni Riefenstahl's German actress, movie director slogan 'I am not interested in politics, only art' was her motto and her undoing. When it comes to the gist of things, one cannot separate art (cinema) from politics (Nazism) especially when it comes to the woman loved by the highest Hitler's followers and even Furer himself, and director who is infamous for making the best Nazi propaganda films. I thought The Dictator's Muse would be a story of Leni Riefenstahl, her talent and escapades. But it turned out to be a collective image of the period (pre World War II Europe). I was hoping for insightful interesting read into woman's history and life. But the book failed to take me and make me involved. It's hard for me to read on Nazi history as it is. However, I was willing to give this book a chance, to separate personal from art and history... but...

  14. 4 out of 5

    Sam

    The Dictator's Muse encourages the reader to take a sympathetic view of Leni Riefenstahl. Leni wanted love like any woman and liked her men to look a certain way. She may not have been a member of the Nazi Party but she certainly gave it a lot of good public relations. I had to swallow a bit of distaste. That aside, it's a good story. Kim is an athlete completely out of his depth and easily manipulated while Alun is a weak and jealous man. Poor Kim is chewed up and spat out, while worse people pr The Dictator's Muse encourages the reader to take a sympathetic view of Leni Riefenstahl. Leni wanted love like any woman and liked her men to look a certain way. She may not have been a member of the Nazi Party but she certainly gave it a lot of good public relations. I had to swallow a bit of distaste. That aside, it's a good story. Kim is an athlete completely out of his depth and easily manipulated while Alun is a weak and jealous man. Poor Kim is chewed up and spat out, while worse people prevail. A lot of famously unpleasant people are in this book, like Goebbels and Oswald Mosley. They had a lot of people fooled. It's important to remember that while right-wing ideologues live amongst us now.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Pamela Scott

    https://thebookloversboudoir.wordpres... This is a new author for me. I read a lot of historical fiction now and particularly enjoy books about WWII or the Nazi’s. The Dictator’s Muse focuses on aspects of Hitler and the Nazi’s and a perspective I haven’t encountered before so it offered something new. The chapters switched between the point-of-view of Leni, Kim and Alun, gradually revealing how they become entwined in each other’s lives and the darkness that links them, especially Kim and Alun a https://thebookloversboudoir.wordpres... This is a new author for me. I read a lot of historical fiction now and particularly enjoy books about WWII or the Nazi’s. The Dictator’s Muse focuses on aspects of Hitler and the Nazi’s and a perspective I haven’t encountered before so it offered something new. The chapters switched between the point-of-view of Leni, Kim and Alun, gradually revealing how they become entwined in each other’s lives and the darkness that links them, especially Kim and Alun as Kim is unaware how Alun truly came to part of his life and what his sinister motivations are. I found this well-written, engrossing and intense at times as the book heads deeper into darkness. I thought this was a terrific read.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jill

    My thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for this advance copy in exchange for an honest review. I had been looking to read a novel that included aspects of Sir Oswald Mosley and his Blackshirts and this novel certainly fulfilled this objective. The Berlin Olympics, the strength of the Third Reich in the lead up to World War 2, fascism and communism made for an engrossing read. It is not until half way through, that the various main characters converge when the novel hits the high notes. An extre My thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for this advance copy in exchange for an honest review. I had been looking to read a novel that included aspects of Sir Oswald Mosley and his Blackshirts and this novel certainly fulfilled this objective. The Berlin Olympics, the strength of the Third Reich in the lead up to World War 2, fascism and communism made for an engrossing read. It is not until half way through, that the various main characters converge when the novel hits the high notes. An extremely well researched novel, full of historical facts and background to Europe at this precarious time. A swift moving and thoughtfully constructed novel, sensitive and unsettling.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Burton

    I was intrigued by this book, Leni Riefenstahl was a fascinating character who walked a precarious line throughout WWII in Germany, however for me it reads more like the story of the the lives, relationships and friendships between Kim Newlands, Connie Dalton and Alun Pryce - with Leni playing a tumultuous part in their lives. There is an underlying theme of who new what during WWII, which is interesting. The ending was disappointing, both the storyline of Kim, Connie and Alun and that of Leni fe I was intrigued by this book, Leni Riefenstahl was a fascinating character who walked a precarious line throughout WWII in Germany, however for me it reads more like the story of the the lives, relationships and friendships between Kim Newlands, Connie Dalton and Alun Pryce - with Leni playing a tumultuous part in their lives. There is an underlying theme of who new what during WWII, which is interesting. The ending was disappointing, both the storyline of Kim, Connie and Alun and that of Leni feel unfinished, but it is still an enjoyable read. I was given a copy of The Dictator's Muse by NetGalley and the publishers in return for an unbiased review.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Cathy Beyers

    I was a bit hesitant to read this one because it is big challenge for an author to incorporate real people into a work of fiction. It was a bit of a slow start but once you get an idea of where it could all be going, it becomes a lot more interesting. The author paints a believable picture of a difficult period in history and manages to create a credible fictionalised version of Leni Riefenstahl. His other characters are more believable. It's a good book to read if you want to find out more abou I was a bit hesitant to read this one because it is big challenge for an author to incorporate real people into a work of fiction. It was a bit of a slow start but once you get an idea of where it could all be going, it becomes a lot more interesting. The author paints a believable picture of a difficult period in history and manages to create a credible fictionalised version of Leni Riefenstahl. His other characters are more believable. It's a good book to read if you want to find out more about this particular time and it will probably encourage you to find out more. Worthwhile.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Greville Waterman

    A new book by this underrated writer is always something to look forward to and this certainly met my expectations. Farndale writes beautifully and is excellent on describing relationships and the content in which they occur. He has a wonderful sense of time and place and evokes the Germany of the 1930's beautifully. I won't reveal the plot but I was entertained, engrossed and educated in equal does. A new book by this underrated writer is always something to look forward to and this certainly met my expectations. Farndale writes beautifully and is excellent on describing relationships and the content in which they occur. He has a wonderful sense of time and place and evokes the Germany of the 1930's beautifully. I won't reveal the plot but I was entertained, engrossed and educated in equal does.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Sharyn

    I enjoyed this book very much. Historical fiction featuring real people is a favourite of mine, as is anything to do with Naziism and British Fascism. Leni Riefenstahl is a great character to base a book around and this is well written and with a good storyline and it is another hit from Nigel Farndale. With thanks to NetGalley, the publishers and the author for an e-ARC of this title.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Becki Sims

    I quite enjoyed this but it was a little different to what I was expecting. There is a lot of politicism in this book. The main characters were strong and their relationships developed well. I was a little underwhelmed, at times on the whole, by the subplot. Many thanks to the author and NetGalley for gifting me this arc in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Lou Barber

    Historical fiction based on real characters is usually fascinating, and the Dictator's Muse is no exception. Written with great attention to detail, it was an engaging read, and obviously well researched. I found the ending a little abrupt but overall I enjoyed reading about this fascinating woman, Leni Riefenstahl, and the author's imagining of events was, I felt, written with integrity. Historical fiction based on real characters is usually fascinating, and the Dictator's Muse is no exception. Written with great attention to detail, it was an engaging read, and obviously well researched. I found the ending a little abrupt but overall I enjoyed reading about this fascinating woman, Leni Riefenstahl, and the author's imagining of events was, I felt, written with integrity.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Stuart Shiffman

    An interesting fact based fictional novel set around the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    An intriguing tale set in the build up to World War 2. Two individuals have careers - sports and film making -which result in them getting enmeshed in the rising fascist movement. Both need the backing of the leaders, Hitler and Mosley, but question or ignore the dark side of their benefactors. There are many different angles to this story; characters, devotion to causes and people, doomed politics and a dual timeline. It is superbly written and everything comes together with a satisfying twist. An intriguing tale set in the build up to World War 2. Two individuals have careers - sports and film making -which result in them getting enmeshed in the rising fascist movement. Both need the backing of the leaders, Hitler and Mosley, but question or ignore the dark side of their benefactors. There are many different angles to this story; characters, devotion to causes and people, doomed politics and a dual timeline. It is superbly written and everything comes together with a satisfying twist. A fascinating and thoroughly enjoyable read.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Paradise

    2.5 stars The Dictator's Muse appealed to me as it takes place before World War II, when rumours are rife and the world is on the brink of war. Unfortunately it didn't live up to its synopsis. The subject itself is fascinating - the Berlin Olympics of 1936, the worries of fascism and communism across Europe and a new British King who seems sympathetic to Hitler. Yet in making this a fictitious book, the author tried too hard to combine multiple historical events, characters and timelines. Through 2.5 stars The Dictator's Muse appealed to me as it takes place before World War II, when rumours are rife and the world is on the brink of war. Unfortunately it didn't live up to its synopsis. The subject itself is fascinating - the Berlin Olympics of 1936, the worries of fascism and communism across Europe and a new British King who seems sympathetic to Hitler. Yet in making this a fictitious book, the author tried too hard to combine multiple historical events, characters and timelines. Throughout the book there was something lacking. Leni's story was the most compelling, but we never got enough to feel satisfied. Kim featured more, but wasn't so interesting; if anything, we learned too much about him. As for Connie and Alun, they were both unlikeable with appalling behaviour. This made the ending a huge disappointment. I would actually have preferred a more in-depth account of the Olympics, Leni's films and Jesse Owens. The inclusion of the unrest in the UK added nothing and made the book far too long. There was also unnecessary description throughout, which could be cut to make the pace more engaging. Sigrun was a worthy addition and the story there provided a link to the modern world. The ending however, was quite farfetched and left us with many unanswered questions. There is much lost to time, but this was fiction, so the author could have given us more to round off the book nicely. The Dictator's Muse has inspired me to read more about Leni Riefenstahl, but the rest of the story was sadly underwhelming and dragged. I was provided with a ARC by NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Melanie Lewis

    I didn't expect to enjoy this book quite as much as I did. The whole concept seemed unlikely to me. And yet, before I knew it I was swept up in the tale, unable to put it down and eager to find out what would happen next. A well researched and interesting account into a time of unimaginable horror that explores aspects of that time we don't get to hear about very much I didn't expect to enjoy this book quite as much as I did. The whole concept seemed unlikely to me. And yet, before I knew it I was swept up in the tale, unable to put it down and eager to find out what would happen next. A well researched and interesting account into a time of unimaginable horror that explores aspects of that time we don't get to hear about very much

  27. 5 out of 5

    Sal

    The Dictator's Muse is set during the Berlin Olympics of the 1930's. Hitler is taking power and the book focuses on Leni Riefenstahl, a film-maker popular with the Third Reich, whom Hitler has requested capture the Olympics. Competing in the Olympics is British athlete Kim Newlands. Along with his socialite girlfriend Connie, he joins the Blackshirts, who sponsor him to compete. Alun Pryce is a communist set on infiltrating the Blackshirts. Acting undercover, he finds his way into Kim and Connie' The Dictator's Muse is set during the Berlin Olympics of the 1930's. Hitler is taking power and the book focuses on Leni Riefenstahl, a film-maker popular with the Third Reich, whom Hitler has requested capture the Olympics. Competing in the Olympics is British athlete Kim Newlands. Along with his socialite girlfriend Connie, he joins the Blackshirts, who sponsor him to compete. Alun Pryce is a communist set on infiltrating the Blackshirts. Acting undercover, he finds his way into Kim and Connie's lives, and the three become inextricably intertwined, a relationship built on lies and misdirection with heart-wrenching consequences. As the three arrive at the Olympics and meet Leni, the story unfurls. Leni is moving in dangerous circles, and the writing is suspenseful and gripping, showing us the knife-edge that Leni is balancing on in her relationship with the Third Reich and Hitler himself. In the present day, Sigrun Meier is attempting to piece together Leni's life and work. Via her investigations, we discover what happened to the Leni's film of the unknown athlete at the Olympics, and also what happened to Alun, Connie and Kim. The ending seemed a little far-fetched and convenient for me, and I felt that the author could have delved into Leni Riefenstahl's relationship with the Third Reich further, as well as the history of the Blackshirts and those who worked against them - as someone with little knowledge of this period in time, I felt as though the political factions took somewhat of a backseat to the characters and their stories and would have appreciated more background on what each group represented. The characters themselves are excellently portrayed, however, and this is what makes the book such a great read. I was gripped by this book, more than I expected. It is a subject area I know little about and this book has piqued my interest, I really want to find out more about Leni Riefenstahl and her relationship with the Nazis, as well as the events surrounding the Berlin Olympics and the athletes competing. I'd definitely recommend this book to anyone wanting a thrilling, intense read.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Nicole Nikolova

  29. 4 out of 5

    Antonis

  30. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Burton

  31. 5 out of 5

    Shemi Finch

  32. 5 out of 5

    Howard Richards

  33. 5 out of 5

    Brittany

  34. 5 out of 5

    Lane

  35. 4 out of 5

    Historical Fiction

  36. 5 out of 5

    Leo

  37. 5 out of 5

    Helen Eddon

  38. 4 out of 5

    Santino Prinzi

  39. 5 out of 5

    Pepper Eadie

  40. 4 out of 5

    Geneviève

  41. 4 out of 5

    Lor

  42. 5 out of 5

    Cláudia P.

  43. 4 out of 5

    Gauri

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