A riveting read . . . with a corker of a twist., Telegraph [I]mmersive and engaging., Guardian V2 is a stunning achievement; a gripping page-turner that remains highly thought-provoking., Daily Express An immersive thriller set against a tense historical backdrop . . . For all its pace - you will zip through it in no time - the rewards are in the meta-story. But Harris's deceptively effortless prose means you barely notice. The effect is one of total immersion: you can feel the cold, taste the bacon sandwiches and imagine the trolleys squeaking across the floor., Financial Times I want to be the first to say it: Robert Harris scores a direct hit with V2. I was enthralled.. The first rocket will take five minutes to hit London. You have six minutes to stop the second. Rudi Graf has dreamt since childhood of sending a rocket to the moon. Instead, along with his friend Werner von Braun, he has helped create the world's most sophisticated weapon - the V2 ballistic missile, capable of delivering a one-ton warhead that travels at three times the speed of sound. In a desperate gamble to avoid defeat, Hitler orders 10,000 to be built. Now, in the winter of 1944, Graf finds himself in a bleak seaside town in Occupied Holland. Haunted and disillusioned, he's tasked with firing the V2s at London. Nobody understands the volatile, deadly machine better than he does. Kay Caton-Walsh is an officer in the WAAF. She has experienced at first-hand the horror of a V2 strike. As the rockets rain down, she joins a unit of WAAFs on a mission to newly-liberated Belgium. Armed with little more than a slide rule and a few equations, the hope is that Kay and her colleagues can locate and destroy the launch sites. But at this stage in the war it's hard to know who, if anyone, you can trust. For every action on one side, there is an equal and opposite reaction on the other. As the death toll soars, the separate stories of Graf and Kay ricochet off one another, until in a final explosion of violence their destinies are forced together.. Robert Harris is the author of thirteen bestselling novels: the Cicero Trilogy - Imperium, Lustrum and Dictator - Fatherland, Enigma, Archangel, Pompeii, The Ghost, The Fear Index, An Officer and a Spy, which won four prizes including the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction, Conclave, Munich and The Second Sleep. Several of his books have been filmed, including The Ghost, which was directed by Roman Polanski. His work has been translated into forty languages and he is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. He lives in West Berkshire with his wife, Gill Hornby. His next book, V2, is coming out in autumn 2020.. _________________'An immersive thriller set against a tense historical backdrop ... the joy is in the history as much as the story ... Once again Harris has placed the reader at the heart of a great historic event, using a small story to tell a great one.' FINANCIAL TIMES_________________The first rocket will take five minutes to hit London.You have six minutes to stop the second.Rudi Graf used to dream of sending a rocket to the moon. Instead, he has helped create the world's most sophisticated weapon: the V2 ballistic missile, capable of delivering a one-ton warhead at three times the speed of sound.In a desperate gamble to avoid defeat in the winter of 1944, Hitler orders ten thousand to be built. Haunted and disillusioned, Graf - who understands the volatile, deadly machine better than anyone - is tasked with firing these lethal 'vengeance weapons' at London.Kay Caton-Walsh is an officer in the Women's Auxiliary Air Force, and a survivor of a V2 strike. As the rockets devastate London, she joins a unit of WAAFs on a mission to newly liberated Belgium. Armed with little more than a slide rule and a few equations, Kay and her colleagues will attempt to locate and destroy the launch sites.But at this stage in the war it's hard to know who, if anyone, you can trust. As the death toll soars, Graf and Kay fight their grim, invisible war - until one final explosion of violence causes their destinies to collide.________________'Harris finds the poetry in physics and the soul in engineering. He makes the V2s come to life as vividly as any of his human characters ... Harris has the great gift of readability; there is no living novelist whose books I am likelier to gobble up in one sitting.' JAKE KERRIDGE, TELEGRAPH'I want to be the first to say it: Robert Harris scores a direct hit with V2. I was enthralled.' ANTHONY HOROWITZ'Astonishingly precise ... As Graf and Kay plot and counterplot, questions rise and fall like rockets. V2 will keep you pinned on a compelling trajectory.' SUNDAY TIMES'Harris is delivering a warning about toxic futility and the ferocious propaganda needed to fuel it. His timing is, unlike the workings of the rockets he writes about, impeccable.' EVENING STANDARD'Robert Harris is at the peak of his storytelling power with V2; it takes you all the way back to the pleasure of reading Enigma.' PATRICK NEALE'The king of the page-turning thriller.' THE i'Second World War buffs will enjoy Robert Harris's V2.' INDEPENDENT'V2's portrait of a battered and weary London is not without a certain 2020 resonance.' TOM HOLLAND
Cupid's Rocket Robert Harris is simply very good at historical fiction. This is set in November 1944. The V2 was a ballistic missile targeted on London, the final fruit of a military project that stretched back a decade. By the time it was used France had been reoccupied and the Red Army was outside Berlin. It had no impact on the outcome of World War 2. The rocket programme was to achieve longer term significance when it was taken over by the Americans who recruited its leading engineers and scientists. We meet Dr Rudi Graf, a fictional assistant to Wernher Von Braun. Like his mentor he was drawn to rockets by a dream of space travel and a journey to the moon. He is more than unhappy about the use of his ideas but feels he has no control. “He felt himself to be like one of the rockets – a human machine, launched on a fixed trajectory, impossible to recall, hurtling to a point that was preordained”. At the other end of the rocket, literally, we meet the fictional Kay Caton-Walsh a WAAF in England, “middle-class well-educated young English woman”. She works in military intelligence tracking the flight of the V2. Her commitment to her role is rather greater. The novel alternates between Kay and Rudi. Harris explains how the rocket worked and its limitations, and how British intelligence tried to deflect its aim. I found this really interesting. Harris also builds up tension and excitement in his description of the launch of the V2 and its flight and fall. He captures well the tiredness and weariness and hunger as the long war comes to an end, and the search for love and affection. Harris explains how he came by the idea and appends a reading list on historical background. What is his own is the craft of telling a story. His writing seems effortless and the ending is just what it should be.
Victory v Vengeance Robert Harris is one of my favourite authors but I can never be sure of whether each book will be one comes up to his best standards, perhaps to make a story gripping which should be dull, or one which might not make the most of its subject matter. This is a wonderful book, which halfway through I thought I had some doubts about, but no. The technical side is fascinating and the way it comes together with the human one is spot on. The scene setting is so immersive that it makes you tense and glance around. People's characters are vividly drawn and movingly respected. The story is just that, slowly and impeccably consistent. In short, the author at his best. I can't think of another situation in my experience of fiction where characters are so dramatically linked at a distance between their different worlds as Rudi and Kay, when a V2 is flying. A scene right near the end, which I mustn't spoil, is almost unbearably poignant. There's a personal element for me. Mum was in the firing line of the rockets. Victory or Vengeance? Their world or ours? See both here and thank all goodness it went the right way. Full marks.
Very Good; Perhaps Not His Best Robert Harris is one of the very few authors whose books I buy without prior inspection. Not all his books are equally good; for me The Ghost and The Fear Index were ho-hum. But the classics: Fatherland, Enigma, Pompeii; and the three Cicero titles, are without equal. To those add An Officer and a Spy and Munich. In short, Mr Harris' works are almost all brilliant. They do atmosphere so well and tangibly that you can almost cut it with a knife; technical detail is always good; historical accuracy is excellent; and characterisation and observance of idiosyncrasies are marvellous. And finally, if those weren't enough, writing style and plot just pull you along. V2 is good, if not in the very top rank. It betrays something of having been written quickly while under COVID 'lockdown'. The history, as ever, is good: of the V2 itself; of the attacks on London; of the terrible subterranean factory of Nordhausen/Mittelbau-Dora. The plot is clever. The ending is beguiling, reminding me a little of the denouement of Pompeii (check and compare for yourself). There's no danger of ever wearying or considering abandoning the book. The characters are maybe a bit cardboard. More could have been done with Kay Caton-Walsh, although Wernher von Braun and his (fictional) sidekick Rudi Graf are well depicted. I somehow didn't get the sense of wartime atmosphere you can almost 'taste' in Enigma and Munich. As an aside: is not Kay a bit casually promiscuous for a 24-year-old upper-middle-class young lady in 1944 England? But the book is still very good and I recommend it without hesitation. Mr Harris has matured in the 30 years, almost, since Fatherland. The stories are now somehow quieter and more observational. A few reviewers say that not much happens. They don't know their Harris: body-counts, gore, sex, overt violence and catastrophe are not necessary to spin a good tale. This is one.
Rating : 3.3 of 278 Reviewers