However, whereas Winter In Madrid is a fiction set amidst a background of historical fact, Dominion is very much an exploration of an alternate history.
Via a succinct prologue, Sansom plunges the reader into a Britain of surrender. A “what if?” story similar to Robert Harris’ seminal Fatherland, Dominion paints a vivid and thoroughly believable picture of a 1950s Britain which has signed a treaty with the Nazis in 1940, after the fall of France.
The political and social detail which Sansom imagines here is wide reaching and subtly painted for the reader. Without the blitz, austerity, and years of fighting and loss, there is not the same move toward social reform, condemnation of international and homegrown fascists such as Oswald Mosley, and certainly no aspiration to a welfare state. However, despite not having been able to lead the country to victory, Churchill remains a symbolic, almost mythical figure of resistance, an Emmanuel Goldstein, who rebels rally to and celebrate with graffitied “V”s for victory hastily painted on public buildings.
David Fitzgerald, a civil servant in the Dominon Office, assumes the Winston Smith role in the novel, yet is filled with a passion, purpose and empathy that Orwell’s protagonist never achieves. It is his quite personal story, and that of his wife Sarah, that makes Dominion such an absorbing, powerful and utterly thrilling historical novel.