The Women In The Castle by Jessica Shattuck– 368 pages
Amid the ashes of Nazi Germany’s defeat, Marianne von Lingenfels returns to the once grand castle of her husband’s ancestors, an imposing stone fortress now fallen into ruin following years of war. The widow of a resistor murdered in the failed July, 20, 1944, plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler, Marianne plans to uphold the promise she made to her husband’s brave conspirators: to find and protect their wives, her fellow resistance widows.
My Review: 3.5 stars
The Women In The Castle is a story of German resisters, their wives and the bonds that ensue. This novel has gotten a lot of hype, which often makes me wary, as one doesn’t know if it’s earned or paid publicity.Readers and reviewers alike were giving it high marks, so I decided to dive in to see for myself.
Overall, this book is a well written with an overwhelming sense of heartache. I always find the work of resisters to be powerful and interesting to read about. Remembering the good Germans, who were anti-Hitler aren’t always cast in history books, so it’s wonderful to honor them in historical fiction.
The author is half German and there is a good portion of the story that honors her grand parents during Nazi Germany. This book begs the readers to ask themselves, “What would you do?” as your morality is tested. We are reminded at the end of the book, there was no black and white during this time, just a lot of gray.
As much as I enjoyed this novel, I still struggle with what was missing for me. I definitely wanted to finish and learn the outcomes of the three main protagonists and was equally perplexed at their back-stories. After much thought, perhaps this novel would’ve worked better for me if told from many first person POVs so I would know each character better. The other thing I noticed while reading was that there was a lot of telling, not a lot of showing by the end of the book. Fans of WW2 fiction will definitely enjoy the unique perspective this novel provides.
Quotes I liked:
Without law, Albrecht always said, we are no better than the apes.”
-“There is not enough air in the room for Marianne and Elizabeth to share. They have learned this the hard way, but acceptance of the fact has made life easier.”
-“Martin would try to find the words to articulate the power of togetherness in a world where togetherness had been corrupted — and to explore the effect of the music, the surprising lengths the people had gone to hear it and to play it, as evidence that music, and art in general, are basic requirements of the human soul.
-“Benita’s news was like a mouse crawling around in her head, nibbling on the wiring, pissing and shitting on her memories, creating electrical storms.”