• Paperback: 400 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition (January 2, 2018)
INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
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“Moving . . . a plot that surprises and devastates.”--New York Times Book Review
“A masterful epic.”--People magazine
“Mesmerizing . . . The Women in the Castle stands tall among the literature that reveals new truths about one of history’s most tragic eras.”--USA Today
Three women, haunted by the past and the secrets they hold
Set at the end of World War II, in a crumbling Bavarian castle that once played host to all of German high society, a powerful and propulsive story of three widows whose lives and fates become intertwined—an affecting, shocking, and ultimately redemptive novel from the author of the New York Times Notable Book The Hazards of Good Breeding.
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 resister 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.
First Marianne rescues six-year-old Martin, the son of her dearest childhood friend, from a Nazi reeducation home. Together, they make their way across the smoldering wreckage of their homeland to Berlin, where Martin’s mother, the beautiful and naive Benita, has fallen into the hands of occupying Red Army soldiers. Then she locates Ania, another resister’s wife, and her two boys, now refugees languishing in one of the many camps that house the millions displaced by the war.
As Marianne assembles this makeshift family from the ruins of her husband’s resistance movement, she is certain their shared pain and circumstances will hold them together. But she quickly discovers that the black-and-white, highly principled world of her privileged past has become infinitely more complicated, filled with secrets and dark passions that threaten to tear them apart. Eventually, all three women must come to terms with the choices that have defined their lives before, during, and after the war—each with their own unique share of challenges.
Written with the devastating emotional power of The Nightingale, Sarah’s Key, and The Light Between Oceans, Jessica Shattuck’s evocative and utterly enthralling novel offers a fresh perspective on one of the most tumultuous periods in history. Combining piercing social insight and vivid historical atmosphere, The Women in the Castle is a dramatic yet nuanced portrait of war and its repercussions that explores what it means to survive, love, and, ultimately, to forgive in the wake of unimaginable hardship.
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Three women are bound together by fate and their husbands choices made during World War II. The husbands of Marianne von Lingenfels, Benita Fledermann and Ania Grabarek were all involved in the failed plot to assassinate Hitler in July of 1944. Appointed "the Commander of Wives and Children" by her husband, Marrianne takes her duties seriously and decides to round up those she can find in the aftermath of the War in the relative safety of her family castle, Burg Lingenfels. While Marianne succeeds at the impossible task of finding the dispersed women and children, her harsh steadfastness combined with Benita's gentle inward intuitiveness, Ania's survival drive and the children's collective shock makes for a difficult group to have under one roof. The secrets that each woman must keep combined with their sense of camaraderie creates a very different post war experience for Marianne, Benita and Ania.
The Women in the Castle is an epic story that creates a great range of feelings and complicated and scenarios. It also shines a light on the role of women and children before and after the war, but more importantly, the resistors. In thinking of the heroes of World War II, I don't often think of the Germans who were strong enough to resist Hitler's pull, even in little ways. All of the women's characters were strongly developed and I enjoyed that they showed their strength in different ways. At first, I was pulled toward Marianne's conviction and dedication to her task, but as each woman's story unfolded and the layers peeled away, I felt more and more connected to their stories and understood their reasoning. The writing does jump back and forth through time and each woman's perspective. Keeping track of the time jumps and point of view can become a bit confusing; however, you do learn things at appropriate times instead of being bombarded with too much information at once. There are many, many more things I could say about this book, but most importantly, it provides a different perspective of World War II, and comments on the importance of friendship, compassion and resistance.
Book provided by Harper Collins.
Jessica Shattuck is the New York Times bestselling author of The Women in the Castle, The Hazards of Good Breeding, a New York Times Notable Book and finalist for the PEN/Winship Award, and Perfect Life. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, The New Yorker, Glamour, Mother Jones, and Wired, among other publications.
Find out more about Jessica at her website and connect with her on Facebook.