I’ve read many books of historical fiction that take place during World War II, but few that are from the vantage point of German characters. (One exception that comes to mind is the excellent The Book Thief by Markus Zusak). The Women in the Castle is a new book of historical fiction coming out in April, and it is a story of three German women whose husbands were involved in an attempt to assassinate Hitler during the war. What happens to these women during and after the war because of this (obviously, unsuccessful) attempt creates a story that examines good and evil in the choices that people make. How do our choices affect, not only ourselves, but also those we love and want to protect?
In spite of the inevitable sadness running through this book, I was easily caught up into the story and could commiserate with each character and the hard choices they were forced to make. The three women were distinct with their own personalities. They came from different backgrounds with secrets to hide, children to protect, and the need to find their way through a new world after their old one was destroyed.
Shattuck was able to write her story because of the memories and recollections of others, among them her own grandmother, mother, and aunt. There really was a German resistance and because of the research Shattuck has done, we can learn much of what people endured and why they may have made some of the decisions that they did.
Lovely writing and intriguing characters set in a difficult, but important time in history. Highly recommended!