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The Iron Necklace by Giles Waterfield

The Iron Necklace

Family Drama   Historical Fiction   Literary Fiction   eBook Favourites   
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1910 and a successful German architect, Thomas, marries an up-and-coming British artist, Irene. This is the story of their lives and families through the next three generations and so the conflict in Europe from both sides, for poor Irene belongs to neither. We get the Jewish and homosexual problem, the turmoil and wretched heartache, the danger and tragedy in a long, eventful and beautifully written tale, a very fine book indeed. ~ Sarah Broadhurst

Reader Reviews

In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion some of our Lovereading Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review this title. You can read their full review by clicking here.

  • Sarah Hamid - 'A beautifully written novel, that richly describes what Germany was like at the time of the First World War. It's portrayal of marriage and family relationships is insightful and thought-provoking.'
  • Phylippa Smithson - 'This is a story of World War One and notably, the German-English divide at various levels resulting from the marriage of a German son and an English daughter.  And it's very absorbing.'
  • Cheryl Kinney - 'This was a beautiful book and really enjoyed reading it, will definitely be looking up more of the author's work.'
  • Siobhan McDowell - 'His descriptions of the war and its effects on the citizens of Germany and Britain were heartbreaking.'
  • Sue Broom - 'This is Downton Abbey with Germans...The book is well written, with plenty of description and finely-tuned dialogue.  Chapters are short and to the point.'
  • Kathryn Murphy - 'What made this novel intriguing was the underlying tension that existed in both families.  Almost every character faced their own personal battle...'
  • Pauline Braisher - 'On the whole I enjoyed the book and would be happy to recommend to friends.'
  • Sophia Ufton - 'Amazing book! Couldn't put it down and now re-reading it!'
  • Peter Baiden - 'Fascinating and humdrum in equal measure, well researched and written, The Iron Necklace gives a glimpse into well to do family life, especially through World War One.'
  • Alison Bisping - 'I am sure plenty of other readers will be enthralled by this but unfortunately not me on this occasion.'
  • Gill Wilmott - 'a thought provoking unusual book well worth the read.'
  • Tania - 'Beautiful historical novel about love and courage.'
  • Lynne Rapson - 'The historical detail and character delineation were excellent and I found the book unputdownable.'
  • Rebecca Whymark - 'Gave it a good go, not my cup of tea.'
  • Gavin Dimmock -  'I wanted to enjoy it, as the synopsis offered great promise and I was interested in the period of history that the tale covers, yet...I found it difficult to get to grips with.'


The Iron Necklace by Giles Waterfield

The wedding of Thomas, an idealistic German architect, and Irene, an English artist, brings together the Curtius and Benson families. But their new lives are soon shattered by the outbreak of war in Europe. While Irene struggles to survive in a country where she is the enemy, her sister Sophia faces the war as a nurse on the Western Front. For their brother Mark, diplomatic service sees him moving between London, Washington and Copenhagen, all the while struggling to confront his own identity.Against a backdrop of war and its aftermath relationships are tested, sacrifices are made and Irene and her siblings strive to find their place in an evolving world.


Instantly involving, full of drama, sadness and atmosphere - a wonderful read. * Woman and Home * [An] addictive family saga... Giles Waterfield writes with insight and compassion, and a deep love for the wonderful German culture that was nearly blotted out by the Nazis. -- Kate Saunders * The Times * Kept me spellbound... The book is written with Vermeer-like delicacy. Each scene is beautifully constructed with masterly restraint; much is left for the reader to intuit... Mr Waterfield's genius is to make us care for his characters as their world dissolves... As soon as I closed the book, I wanted to read it again. * Country Life * A spirited novel... explores notions of duty, love and betrayal through the prism of two families. * Literary Review * From the outset The Iron Necklace has all the ingredients you would expect from a sweeping dynastic World War story... A thoughtful, dispassionate look at how the war affected one family. * Belfast Telegraph * An atmospheric, tender first novel * Good Housekeeping * An almost perfect first novel * Daily Telegraph on The Long Afternoon * A fascinating psychological portrait of a marriage * Daily Mail on The Long Afternoon *

About the Author

Giles Waterfield

Giles Waterfield is an independent curator and writer, the Director of Royal Collection Studies and Associate Lecturer at the Courtauld Institute of Art. He is a trustee of the Charleston Trust and a member of the National Trust Arts Panel and the Advisory Panel of the National Heritage Memorial Fund. He is also the author of three previous novels including The Long Afternoon which won the McKitterick Prize. He lives in London.

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Book Info

Publication date

7th January 2016


Giles Waterfield

More books by Giles Waterfield
Author 'Like for Like'

Author's Website


Allen & Unwin


448 pages


Family Drama
Historical Fiction
Literary Fiction
eBook Favourites

Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)



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