Unity tells the story of a lost film about the relationship between the English aristocrat, Unity Mitford, and Hitler, set against the background of the Red Army Faction terror campaign in 1970s Germany. Shooting has to be abandoned when the leading actress, Felicity Benthall, joins in the campaign, following her affair with a charismatic Palestinian.The author himself features in the narrative when, almost thirty years later, he attempts to uncover the truth about Felicity and another university friend, Luke Dent, who wrote the film-script. He consults Luke's letters from the set and the diaries of the former Hollywood child star and revolutionary socialist, Geraldine Mortimer, who played Diana Mosley; interviews two of the German actors and the film's producer, Thomas Bücher, an Auschwitz survivor turned high-powered pornographer; reads a revealing memoir by the director's widow; and corresponds with Carole Medhurst, a British actress turned Hollywood mogul. Their testimonies set up an intricate chain of associations from 1930s Britain to post-war Germany, painting a disturbing picture of corruption and fanaticism, and casting light on the nature of evil.

'The most intriguing and thought-provoking novel I have read this year' Daily Express

'Highly intelligent ... well worth reading' Sunday Times

'Farce and intensity blend in a deftly layered version of Hitler's legacy ... Michael Arditti ambitiously tackles the theme of human evil in the history of Europe over the past seventy years. He does so with a touch both curiously light and unambiguously earnest' Guardian

'Strikingly original in form ... a remarkable, unsettling book ... a compelling fiction' The Times

'What is astonishing in Unity is the grim wit and ironic humour which pervades this deadly serious page-turner ... the reader staggers away from this uncompromising drama of ideas shaken and stirred' Independent

'Chilling in the extremity of its import ... hugely ambitious in its scope, Arditti's novel examines the events and personalities that shape moral character' Financial Times

'Persuasive, sometimes amusing, sometimes chilling ... a true novel with a strong narrative and acute, sympathetic characterisation' Scotsman

'This remarkable book ... a strange and engrossing story that has powerful resonances with our own era' Daily Mail

'The purpose ... is to understand the human appetite for gratuitous cruelty ... the final section ... debates this with a Dostoevskian intentness. The author's love for his creations [is] the only possible antidote to the loveless anti-human behaviour that Unity has been courageous enough to confront' TLS

'This is a deftly written, deeply intelligent and wholly admirable book, full of good ideas and sharp historical sidelights' Literary Review

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01 May 2005
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About the author

  • Michael Arditti

    Michael Arditti

    Michael Arditti is a novelist, short story writer and critic. His novels are: The Celibate (1993), Pagan and her Parents  (Pagan’s Father in the USA) (1996), Easter (2000), Unity (2005), A Sea Change (2006), The Enemy of the Good (2009), Jubilate (2011), The Breath of Night (2013), Widows and Orphans (2016), Of Men and Angels (2018) and The Anointed (2020). His short story collection, Good Clean Fun was published in 2004. He was awarded a Harold Hyam Wingate scholarship in 2000, a Royal Literary Fund fellowship in 2001, an Oppenheim-John Downes memorial award in 2003 and Arts Council awards in 2004 and 2007. He was the Leverhulme artist in residence at the Freud museum in 2008. His novels have been short- and long-listed for several literary awards and Easter won the inaugural Waterstone’s Mardi Gras award. In 2012 he was awarded an Honorary DLitt by the University of Chester. He is currently theatre critic of the Sunday Express.

    Titles by Michael Arditti

    The Celibate by Michael Arditti
    Of Men and Angels by Michael Arditti
    The Anointed
    Widows and Orphans by Michael Arditti Jacket