A little bit of historical fiction, you say? Why not, I say!
The Girl From Berlin by Kate Hewitt
Berlin, 1936: From her beautiful new home a young woman named Liesel Scholz barely notices the changes to the city around her. Her life is one of privilege and safety thanks to her father’s job working for the new government.
But soon a chance encounter with Rosa, the daughter of their Jewish housekeeper, leaves Liesel in no doubt that something isn’t right. That this government’s rules are not fair and that others aren’t as safe as she is. When Rosa begs Liesel to help—pressing her grandfather’s gold pocket watch into Liesel’s hand—Liesel recklessly agrees.
She will help hide Rosa and her family—in the dusty, unused rooms at the top of their house—even if it means putting everyone she loves in danger. Even if it means risking her own life.
Frankfurt, 1946: An idealistic American captain, Sam Houghton, arrives in Germany to interrogate prominent Nazis on trial and to help rebuild a battered country. He hires an enigmatic and damaged woman named Anna as his interpreter. But, as sparks fly between them, the question of what happened to Anna in the war raises its head.
Because Anna has secrets—ones that link her to the Nazi party, the darkest days in Europe’s history, and the story of one gold pocket watch and two young women who became friends even when they were told it was impossible…
There will come a day when I tire of WWII historical fiction books. Every time I pick up a new book I wonder will this be the one that will move me away from the genre. The Girl From Berlin had the opposite effect: it pulled me in more.
I’ve read so many books in this genre, and I’ve been living in Berlin for 10 years now, so I cockily thought I knew it all at this stage. The Girl From Berlin was a wake-up call that I will never fully know or understand what went on during this period. Yes, this book follows some of the major events of the time and provided nothing new there, but it was the subtle inclusions that provided new knowledge. Take the changes in Christmas celebrations, for instance: replacing the start on top of the tree with a swastika, changing the words of Silent Night to remove reference to Jesus, swastika-shaped Christmas cookies. I was shocked.
Beyond the details of the story, I was not expecting to be hit with such emotion as I was while reading The Girl From Berlin. There are scenes that I don’t want to share here for fear of spoilers that shook me to the core because really what stands out in this book is the exploration into humanity. The book really focuses on that grey area of involvement; the question of how involved you had to be before you were held accountable. The author went even further with this and explore the breakdown of various relationships because of different beliefs/levels of involvement. This for me was the best part of the book.
If you are interested in reading The Girl From Berlin, you can pick up a copy of the book here.
I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.