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‘A compelling story of love and betrayal in the divided Berlin of the 1980s’ Sunday Times Best Books of 2019

‘A beautifully written, evocative literary thriller set in Berlin shortly before the fall of the Wall’ Financial Times Best Books of 2019

‘A powerful and moving love story by a writer at the top of his game’ John Boyne

In West Berlin in 1989, eighteen-year-old Ralf has just left school and is living a final golden summer with his three best friends. They spend their days swimming, smoking and daydreaming about the future, oblivious to the storm gathering on the other side of the Berlin Wall.

But an unsettling discovery about his family and a meeting with the mysterious Oz shatters everything Ralf thought he knew about love and loyalty. And as old Cold War tensions begin to tear his life apart, he finds himself caught up in a web of deceit, forced to make impossible choices about his country, his family and his heart.


A love story at its heart, this unsettling and wonderfully atmospheric historical novel, set in West Berlin in 1989 (the year the wall was torn down), sizzle with suspense and intrigue . . . This is a beguiling read, crackling with tension, unease and anticipation, all of which builds slowly like a gathering summer storm
The Lady
Profoundly moving - a deftly crafted story of love and loss, I believed every word of it
Jake Arnott
Fiercely beautiful, this tender, yet powerfully told story of love and discovery cradles the reader in the most pleasurable way. A lush, unforgettable read
Kate Mayfield, author of The Parentations
Love and loyalty in Cold War-era Berlin: an outstanding novel
Sunday Times Must Read
The stunning, powerful and addictive new novel by the prize-winning author of The Spring of Kasper Meier...
Attitude magazine
I quickly found myself hooked. The character of Ralf and his relationships with both his family and friends (particularly Oz) are beautifully drawn. Ralf's journey from innocence to adulthood is fascinating, surprising and poignant as the plot twists and turns and the reader, along with Ralf, has no idea who to trust. It is a compelling story that held me captive until the last page. And thank God it had a proper ending that left me smiling!'
Ruth Hogan
I was completely enthralled by the story of Ralf and the complex friendships and family ties that surround him in the last days of the Berlin Wall. Both a literary thriller and a moving love story, An Honest Man magically captures that strange hinterland between childhood and what lies ahead - and it will keep you guessing until the very last page
Sarah Day, author of Mussolini's Island
A beautifully written, evocative literary thriller set in Berlin shortly before the fall of the Wall
Financial Times Best Books of 2019
Ben Fergusson paints a vivid picture of a divided city . . . An Honest Man stays taut and claustrophobic . . . As well as a poignant love story, it's also a gripping, original thriller; a final twist I definitely didn't see coming sets a powerful climax in motion . . . But this is a novel as much about the end of innocence, the limits of ideology and the pain of realising the people we love are far from perfect - in this case very far indeed
Jeff Robson, The i
In An Honest Man, Ben Fergusson richly evokes West Berlin in 1989 through his narrator's nineteen-year-old self. Absorption in his own friendships and sexual self-discovery obscures from him his larger community's confusion of hopes and fears, though he is appealingly sensitive to Berlin's natural, geological realities
Times Literary Supplement, Books of the Year 2019
During the hot summer of 1989, a group of friends mooch about, fall in love, swim and party. All perfectly normal - except this is West Berlin which is still divided by the Wall and awash with spies and paranoia . . . The author won awards for his debut, The Spring of Kasper Meier. This is equally atmospheric and thought-provoking
Daily Mail
Ben Fergusson's compelling story is as sensitive as it is moving. It vividly evokes Berlin in 1989 and perfectly captures the atmosphere and mood of what was then a tragic city. And his characters are all too believable, their flaws and attributes neatly defining the human condition
Daily Express
The divided Berlin of the Cold War era is brilliantly resurrected on the cusp of momentous change in Ben Fergusson's An Honest Man...the novel movingly recounts Ralf's painful discoveries about love and loyalty
Sunday Times
A powerful and moving love story by a writer at the top of his game
John Boyne
Subtle and intense...a morally complex tale...This is a beautifully written and engaging novel that comes from the heart
NB magazine
A compelling story of love and betrayal in the divided Berlin of the 1980s
Sunday Times Best Books of 2019
A genre-melding mix of coming of age and spy thriller...Fergusson's prose combines a reporter's eye for detail with poetic scene-setting...But the Cold War and greater forces are in play. The party will soon be over and a profound betrayal is about to turn Ralf's world upside down. A fine summer read
Financial Times