Book Review

The Women in the Castle


There seems to be a spate of books now on WWII right now, perhaps because enough time has passed to make it easier to bear?  It doesn’t get easier for me.  I’m a Jew, and WWII will always be too painful to bear.  But something drew me to this book.  I suspect it had to do with the fact that it is about three strong women struggling to survive in the aftermath of the war.

Strong women – genuinely strong women – do it for me every time.  And they did now.  This book is superb.  The author created characters who were each flawed, and put them into Hitler’s Germany not as the persecuted, but as Germans.  I should have despised these women for all they chose not to see.  But I did not. As I got to know them, I felt a growing understanding, even sympathy for them. They, too, were victims of Hitler.

This book is about survival.  It is about seeing and understanding and being totally helpless to stop an unfolding horror – then having to live with the knowledge of what you did not do.

The Women in the Castle is beautifully written.  It is evocatively descriptive of time and place, yet written in straight-forward prose.  Plot-wise, it is brilliantly crafted, leaving out the past of one of the women until the plot cries for it.  At the mid-way point, I wondered where it was headed, felt it needed something powerful.  Boy, did I get it.  The second half of the book came together with quiet emotional force.

I listened to the audio book of The Women in the Castle.  The reader did an amazing job with different languages and accents. And while I definitely need to read something a little lighter now, I highly recommend this book.


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