The Day We Had Hitler Home by Rodney Hall (Australian fiction)

The Day We Had Hitler Home by Rodney Hall is one of the strangest books that I have ever read, and although I enjoyed it, I am really not sure what to make of it. 

Hall sets his story during and post-WWI. As a result of a mistake, a young Hitler arrives in a country Australian town at the conclusion of WWI, unable to see and unwilling to communicate with those that can offer him assistance. He is taken in by an average Australian family, consisting of the story's heroine Audrey McNeill, her elder sister Sibyl, Sibyl's womanising husband Immanuel and their adopted son.

However implausibly, Audrey then convinces her family that they need to help him flee the country, and she uses this as her excuse to escape the doldrums of her daily existence and begin a cosmopolitan life in Europe.

Whilst in her care, Audrey develops a fascination with and an attraction of sorts to Hitler - forming a relationship with him in her own mind that she continues to explore in a way once she arrives in Europe and until the rise of Nazism has an irrevocable impact upon her life and that of her lover's daughter.

It is the implausibility of this story that makes it so bizarre. How could Hitler possibly have found himself blind in an Australian country town? It seems to have no other purpose than to give Audrey an excuse to begin a new life elsewhere.

Is Rodney Hall trying to convey a deeper message in The Day We Had Hitler Home or is this book simply a comedy with a more serious edge?

The book certainly lends itself to comedy. Audrey is completely naive and totally absorbed with herself and Hitler plays the role of a slapstick comic relief character most of the time, a role that seems unsuited to the man responsible for WWII and the Holocaust.

I enjoyed this book; there was certainly nothing wrong with it and it was an interesting read, if bizarre. But it did leave me wondering what the point of it was?

5.5 / 8
Enjoyable and well written. Worth reading if you have the opportunity.

If anyone else read this book and can shed some light on this issue I would love to hear from you.


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