Project Description

Snowleg, 2004 (Longlisted for Booker Prize)

A young Englishman visits Cold War Leipzig with a group of students and falls for an East German girl who is only just beginning to wake up to the way her society is governed. Her situation touches him, but he is too frightened to help. He spends decades convincing himself that he is not in love until one day, with Germany now reunited, he decides to go back and look for her. But who was she, how will his actions have affected her, and how will her find her? All he knows of her identity is the nickname he gave her – Snowleg. Snowleg is a powerful love story that explores the close, fraught relationship between England and Germany, between a man who grows up believing himself to be a chivalrous English public schoolboy and a woman who tries to live loyally under a repressive regime.

Superb… Beautifully written, rich in character, it displays all the courage for which its hero so desperately wants to be recognized
The Economist
Superbly evoked… a morality tale which keeps the reader spellbound till the last sentence
Literary Review
This novel is one of the finest attempts in English to convey something of two very strange places which no longer appear on the map of Europe… Shakespeare has told a very skillful story
Evening Standard
Haunting… Compelling… Shakespeare deftly captures both the paranoia and the material and cultural poverty of East Germany
Publishers Weekly
A brooding, introspective, deftly crafted novel… A moving story that speaks volumes about an era and a political system that is rapidly slipping into the recesses of our memory
Washington Post
Like Michael Ondaatje in The English Patient and Shirley Hazzard in The Great Fire, Shakespeare weds a formal, detached prose style to a deeply romantic theme; the result is a powerful, ethereal love story set against the twisted politics of East Germany under communism…. A beautifully written, utterly compelling story of love and politics
Booklist, starred review
A volatile cocktail of passion and politics
San Francisco Chronicle
A richly imagined tale of thwarted romance, between characters whose lives have been warped by East German treachery under Communism
Kirkus Reviews
Elegant, romantic, forceful
Library Journal
Already my bet for this year’s Booker Prize. A superbly achieved and moving novel
Giles Foden, Conde Nast Traveller