The Women of the Castle by Jessica Shattuck

Review published on April 11, 2017.

In the devastating aftermath of World War II, Marianne von Lingenfels returns to the now crumbling castle home where she once played host to all of German high society. The widow of a resistor to the Nazi regime, she stays true to the promise she made to her late husband, seeking out survivors and bringing them into the fold of the castle once more. Rescuing her dearest childhood friend’s widow Benita and another Ania, Marianne assembles a makeshift family certain that their shared pasts will bind them together.

Marianne’s principled outlook is quickly undermined as the women’s vastly different experiences of the Nazi regime gradually surface. All three must grapple with the realities they now face and the consequences of decisions each made in the darkest of times.

Every now and again I choose a book at random to review and am lucky enough to receive a book like this. This book is right up my street. I read a lot of books about French resistors but this book is about German resistors who were against everything that Hitler stood for. The book describes the deprivations that German people suffered during the war and these were many. However, the main thrust of the book is about the wives of these resistors and how they coped with the loss of their husbands. They had children to bring up on their own and found solace in being together. Each of the women had differing levels of complicity in the regime of the Third Reich and they came from totally different backgrounds.

The woman found it very hard to believe what was happening to Jewish people and there are some difficult reminders of what happened in the camps.

I liked the way the book was split into parts each covering a different time i.e. pre-war, wartime, post-war and much later in the women’s lives.

This is basically a book about survival and coping with whatever life throws at you. It is very moving and a compelling read. The book made me wonder how I would have coped in such circumstances. It is very well researched and I can fully understand why it took the author seven years to write it. I am sure she wanted the book to be as accurate as possible whilst maintaining the human perspective.

An excellent book and I thoroughly recommend it. This isn’t just a story about war, whatever side you were on, but is about human beings and their power of forgiveness.

Dorothy Flaxman 5/5

The Women of the Castle by Jessica Shattuck
Zaffre 9781785762710 hbk May 2017

dir 94 pbk?


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