In the book, Being Polite to Hitler-A Novel, by Robb Forman Dew, the title can be initially misleading, because the book has nothing to do with Hitler, and everything to do with the societal standards and mores of time.
From 1953 on, Agnes, the main character, follows etiquette’s insistence on politeness, even during moments where circumstances are less than ideal or less than positive. In her mind, politeness is a standard to be idealed, and even if Hitler was standing in front of her she would exhibit politeness, despite her feelings.
The characters in the book are floundering within the realm, of family dynamics and communications. Their often political discussions are ones that leave much to be desired, and it seems as if they are speaking to hear themselves talk. They are flat, and their personalities are not ones that are necessarily desired.
The reader sees what the individuals are thinking, through their mind’s view of what is occurring or not occurring, especially through Agnes’ eyes. She is reflective of her past. Yet, often times what is not occurring is actually more demonstrative of feelings than if words were uttered.
From the various major developments within a twenty plus span of years, Agnes seems untouched by the occurrences, such as Sputnik, the John F. Kennedy assassination, desegregation, and so much more. It is easier to allow the mind to dismiss or not dwell on the situations, and go on with life without blemishes of historical consequence.
History is quite evident, within the pages, yet when Agnes and her family and friends are confronted with news or the latest incidents, they seem to avoid acknowledging them.
I found Being Polite to Hitler to be a less than interesting read. It is not really my type of story, but I am sure others will enjoy it. The setting and details regarding clothes, living habits, monetary influences, etc. are depicted quite well. The descriptions and portrayals of lackluster individuals caught in the stream of daily life, trying to out voice each other is very pronounced and well written.
With that said, I still did not enjoy the story line of Being Polite to Hitler. I am glad it was a library book, and not one I bought.