by Phyllis Edgerly Ring
Publisher: Whole Sky Books (November 14, 2015)
Category: Historical Fiction, WWII, Germany, Family Saga
Tour date: Feb 1-Mar 31, 2017
Available in Print & ebook, 356 pages
Description of Munich Girl by Phyllis Edgerly RingThe Munich Girl: A novel of the legacies that outlast war.
The past may not be done with us. What secrets is a portrait of Eva Braun hiding?
Anna Dahlberg grew up eating dinner under her father’s war-trophy portrait of Eva Braun. Fifty years after the war, she discovers what he never did—that her mother and Hitler’s mistress were friends.
Plunged into the world of the “ordinary” Munich girl who was her mother’s confidante—and a tyrant’s lover—Anna uncovers long-buried secrets and unknown reaches of her heart, to reveal the enduring power of love in the legacies that always outlast war.
Fiction Finalist in 2016 Eric Hoffer Book Awards
Anna Dahlberg is facing the task of going through her mother's belongings after her death. In addition, Anna must cater to her husband, Lowell's every whim as he finishes publishing a book about World War II and manages a magazine centered around the armed forces. When Anna is given writing assignments about women war correspondents and Eva Braun, her interest is piqued. Then, her interest quickly becomes personal as Anna uncovers several items in her mother's collection that carry Eva's special monogram or Eva's picture. Added to the fact that Anna has looked at a rough sketch of Eva every night in her mother's dining room, Anna begins to see a connection between her mother and Eva. As she researches, Anna finds that her mother, Peggy, could have actually been friends with Hitler's infamous mistress. With the help of Hannes Ritter, a new hire at the magazine, Anna begins to unravel the unlikely connections.
I love stories of objects that intertwine past and present. In the case of The Munich Girl I was pulled into Anna's research into a sketch and a handkerchief that led Anna to discover secrets of her mother's time in Germany and her friendship with Eva Braun. I was astounded at how little was known about Eva Braun and much her life effected not only Hitler but the War itself. Most people think of Eva Braun as little more than Hitler's mistress; however, through the eyes of Peggy, Eva is showcased as a supportive friend, a talented photographer, a dedicated lover and a woman with her own thoughts, feelings and agenda. I enjoyed seeing how Anna became empowered in her life after reading about her own mother and Eva's life under Hitler. While Lowell was definitely oppressive in his and Anna's relationship, I do wish that Anna would have come into her own before Lowell left the scene so he could have witnessed Anna's rebirth. Overall, I loved reading about Anna and Peggy's stories in 1995 and during World War II and I certainly learned more about the importance of Eva Braun.
This book was received for free in return for an honest review.
Author Phyllis Edgerly Ring lives in New England and returns as often as she can to her childhood home in Germany. Her years there left her with a deep desire to understand the experience of Germans during the Second World War. She has studied plant sciences and ecology, worked as a nurse, been a magazine writer and editor, taught English to kindergartners in China, and served as program director at a Baha’i conference center in Maine.
She is also author of the novel, Snow Fence Road, and the inspirational nonfiction, Life at First Sight: Finding the Divine in the Details. Her book for children, Jamila Does Not Want a Bat in Her House, is scheduled for release by Bellwood Press in early 2017.
Twitter: http:// www.twitter.com/phyllisring
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As I reached for Eva’s hand, the door to the main corridor slid open and the conductor seemed to fill it with his blue uniform.
“Where did you come from?” he asked my companion accusingly.
I smelled schnapps on his breath. And saw tears gleam in Eva’s blue eyes.
“From Simbach, where she waited for this tardy train. It’s not as though she was invisible.”
His head snapped back.
“With no one there to help, she barely made it on board,” I accused.
“But I saw no one at Simbach!”
“It’s hard to see, when you’re not on the platform yourself.” Then I asked Eva, “Do you have your ticket?”
Nodding quickly, her expression like a chastened child’s, she started digging in her leather shoulder bag.
The conductor was weaving in the doorway, tapping his boot impatiently. Just like most of these useless bloody uniforms, throwing their authority around. God help you if you actually need their help. They’ll be too busy having a nip and a smoke out of sight, as this joker obviously had. Probably been drinking since we’d left Linz—he’d even neglected to announce some of the stops.
When Eva found her ticket and handed it over, he snatched it without a word, fumbling for the hole punch dangling from a chain on his waistcoat. Then he thrust it back without looking at her, muttering to me, “Your parents should have taught you better manners.”
“My parents taught me people should do their jobs, especially when jobs are scarce. And that men who want to be taken for gentlemen should behave like one.”
I took great satisfaction in saying this, though I did so in English.
Across from me, recognition sparkled in Eva’s eyes.
As he stared at me, I asked in German, “How long will it be to Munich?”
“A little over an hour,” he mumbled. When he lurched back, the door his bulky frame had propped open slid closed with a thump.
Eva burst into a shower of radiant giggles. “Now I know you are an angel.”
“As I was starting to say before we were so rudely interrupted, I’m happy to meet you, Fräulein Braun. I’m Peggy Adler.”
“Nein, nein--Eva,” she insisted. “If you don’t mind.” She used German’s familiar “du” pronoun. “I think I should be on a first-name basis with an angel, don’t you?”
“Yes, let’s dispense with formality,” I agreed, relieved. I reached into my rucksack for my Lucky Strikes. “How about a smoke? Help us relax after that ordeal?”
Eva’s eyes were like stars as she reached for one tentatively, then settled back in her seat after I lit it. Her lids fluttered shut as she took an extended drag, then exhaled with luxurious pleasure. “How wonderful. It’s been a long time since I’ve had a cigarette. And I’ve wanted one so often.”
As I inhaled deeply on my own, she said, “You speak English, and your name is English, too, yes?”
I nodded. “My real name’s Margarete, but I never use it. My father is English, and I lived there until—I came away to school in Austria.”
I’d been very close to saying, “Until my parents separated.”
“I love what you told the conductor!”
“Oh, in English, you mean? You understood?”
“Absolutely!” she replied in heavily accented English, then lapsed back into her Bavarian German. “I thought I’d choke, trying not to laugh!”
“Are you studying English at school?”
“Oh, not so very much. From films, mostly.”
Now that she’d touched on one of my favorite subjects, the time and kilometers flew past as we talked about actors and music, jazz, dancing—and clothes. When I pulled out a movie magazine for us to look at, her chubby face came alive as she offered succinct assessments of the actresses’ clothes.
“I had to hide my magazines at school. Under the mattress,” she said. “My family thinks I’m going back next fall, but it’s not the life for me. I haven’t told them yet. The Sisters or my family.”
“Sounds like we’ve made the same decision. I’m not going back, either.” The thought of the scene that likely followed my unexpected departure last night launched a plummeting sensation in my stomach.
“Don’t you want to be out there in life—really live?” Eva said. “These are modern times, nicht? Not our grandmother’s days. There’s more to life than finding some lord and master and being under his thumb. I swear I’ll never live in such a prison!”
“You know,” I decided to confide as I leaned forward to light us fresh cigarettes. “My mother’s more independent now.”
I stopped, suddenly. What was I doing? I never talked about the divorce.
Eva was looking at me kindly. “Oh, my parents had a time, too. When I was small.”
“My parents divorced,” I relinquished, finally. “After the war.”
Might as well get it over with. I’d probably never see her again anyway.
She reached across the gap between our seats for my hand.
“My brother was killed, just before his nineteenth birthday. Right near the end of the war.” My voice was suddenly growing tight.
“I am so very sorry.” Eva moved to the seat beside mine and was offering a soft handkerchief.
“I tried.” I could barely get words out now. “To tell them. I knew, you see.”
I had seen it before it happened, that final end that was so horrible not only for Peter, but so many others lying there around him in that muddy, hellish mess. That place I didn’t want to see. Didn’t want to look. But it had kept coming back.
When I had tried to tell them--beg them—not to let him go, Father had called it morbid. Wicked. Been enraged that I would even suggest the danger that loomed.
Then, afterward, he’d looked at me as though I’d made that terrible thing happen to Peter, simply because I’d seen it ahead of time. And tried to warn them.