In my opinion...
I love historical fiction, and am particularly interested in World War II, but have never before read a story told from this point of view. The three main characters have very different histories to reveal, and the fact that their past with its secrets continues to affect their present feels very real, with all the conflicts that brings.
The story is extremely detailed and visual, and the reader is left in no doubt about horrors witnessed, we have heard about them many times, but it is fascinating to read that some Germans did try to make a difference by resistance, and the difficulties & persecution that they faced.
At times the story feels a little slow moving, but Shattuck has so much that she wants to say, the amount of research and information she delivers is phenomenal.
In writing this story, Jessica Shattuck had to come to terms with recognising that her grandparents were Nazis. Ultimately, I think it is not a novel of excuse or forgiveness for them, it is a novel of hope, that we learn from the past by looking at it honestly and then try to rebuild a better future.
Thank you Readers First and Zaffre for my ARC
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In war they made impossible choices. Now can they live with them?
'Moving . . . surprises and devastates' New York Times
'Mesmerising . . . reveals new truths about one of history's most tragic eras' USA Today
The Third Reich has crumbled. The Russians are coming.
Marianne von Lingenfels - widow of a resister murdered by the Nazi regime - finds refuge in the crumbling Bavarian castle where she once played host to German high society. There she fulfils her promise to find and protect the wives and children of her husband's brave conspirators, rescuing her dearest friend's widow, Benita, from sexual slavery to the Russian army, and Ania from a work camp for political prisoners. As Marianne assembles this makeshift family she is certain their shared pain will bind them together.
But as Benita begins a clandestine relationship and Ania struggles to conceal her role in the Nazi regime, Marianne learns that her clear-cut, highly principled world view has no place in these new, frightening and emotionally-charged days.
All three women must grapple with the realities they now face, and the consequences of decisions each made in the darkest of times . . .
Deeply moving and compelling, The Women of the Castle is a heart-wrenching and hopeful novel of secrets and survival, a reckoning, and the astonishing power of forgiveness. Perfect for fans of All the Light We Cannot See, The Reader and The Light Between Oceans.
A thoughtful 5 glasses; it's never too late to learn from the past