Just when you think you’ve read everything you possibly can about WW11 something new like THE WOMEN IN THE CASTLE by Jessica Shattuck comes along.
The blurbs about this story say it’s like SARAH’S KEY and ALL THE LIGHT WE CAN NOT SEE. I would not go that far.
The story begins at the castle where Marianne von Lingenfels is hosting her famous harvest party. All the opulence of the garden party in GONE WITH THE WIND. And, all is going so well, until all the men go off to fight in the resistance and never come back!
It was a failed attempt to kill Hitler. And Marianne’s husband and many others were executed when it failed. So now the widows are dealing with their ruined lives and those of their orphaned children. And they must find a way to carry on.
Marianne decides to set out to find the other widows. She brings them back to the now crumbling castle after the war. A more unlikely trio of women you have never come across. The story is harsh and very sad. It’s haunting and will stay with you.
The past several years have brought a few novels to the surface about the Germans who were not Jews and how they too suffered. This is one of those stories. So it’s not new. But it is different. This novel shows a Germany down on its luck and its honor blown away. It’s not a pretty picture. There is no joy, no softness, no cushions. And each woman harbors abominable secrets, even from each other.
I’ve read a many, many books about WW11. Some are more memorable than others. As much marketing as this book has gotten, there was something off about it for me. I even hesitate saying this because I’m not quite sure what even is. Maybe I just wan’t in the mood for it. Honestly, I can’t put my finger on it. But it’s no SARAH’S KEY or ALL THE NIGHT YOU CAN NOT SEE. That I know.
This is a powerful book about war and the resilience to overcome the aftermath. Strong women. Overwhelming odds. Horrible circumstances.
I received this book as a review copy months ago from William Morrow at Harper Collins. Thanks for sending.