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.Read more...
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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."
From our buyer, Margaret Terwey: "Set at the end of World War II, in a crumbling Bavarian castle that once played host to all of German high society, The Women in the Castle is a powerful and propulsive story of three widows whose lives and fates become intertwined."
- ISBN-13: 9780062563668
- ISBN-10: 0062563661
- Publisher: William Morrow & Company
- Publish Date: March 2017
- Page Count: 368
- Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 1.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2017-02-27
- Reviewer: Staff
Shattuck (The Hazards of Good Breeding) explores the lives of three widows at the tail end of World War II in this redemptive tale. Marianne von Lingenfels, whose husband was one of many resisters murdered in a failed attempt to assassinate Hitler, returns to the beautiful but dilapidated Bavarian castle, Burg Lingenfels, as the war comes to an end. At the outset of the war she had promised her friend, another resister, that she would watch over his wife Benita and their child if anything happened to him. Seeking safety in numbers after the death of husbands, Marianne invites Benita to live with heras well as another widow, Ania, and her two sons. As new chapters in their lives are written, the women come to rely on each other as a makeshift familymuch as the entire country, reeling after the horrors of the war, must imagine a new future and forge a new identity. Shattucks latest has an intricately woven narrative with frequent plot twists that will shock and please. The quotidian focus of the story, falling on the period just after the war, provides a unique glimpse into what the average German was and was not aware of during World War IIs darkest months. Shattucks own German heritage and knack for historical details adds to the realism of the tale. A beautiful story of survival, love, and forgiveness. Agent: Eric Simonoff, WME Entertainment. (Apr.)
Secrets in sanctuary
BookPage Top Pick in Fiction, April 2017
What was Germany like for regular citizens in the months and years after World War II? In the enthralling The Women in the Castle, Jessica Shattuck paints a portrait of a postwar country wracked with guilt and confusion, trying to regroup and rebuild even as Allied forces require Germans to watch footage of the liberation of Buchenwald and paper villages with photos of concentration camp victims. In this uncertain world, where many Germans still believe these actions to be propaganda and don’t yet understand the full horror of what has transpired, three women come together through unlikely connections.
Marianne von Lingenfels is an aristocrat whose husband died due to his involvement in an assassination attempt on Adolf Hitler’s life. Before he dies, Marianne pledges to take care of the wives and children of other resisters. Making good on that promise, Marianne retrieves Benita, who is being abused by Russian soldiers in Berlin, and locates Benita’s son, who’s being held in a Nazi children’s home.
The group makes its way to the von Lingenfels’ castle, where Marianne’s children also live. Then quiet Ania and her two shell-shocked boys arrive, ostensibly fleeing the Red Army. But there’s more to her story, and Benita’s, and it will take years for Marianne to fully understand the pasts of the women she’s been charged with protecting.
Shattuck, whose novel The Hazards of Good Breeding was a finalist for the PEN/Winship Award, sheds new light on World War II’s aftermath and the families left behind, and raises poignant questions about blind loyalty: “Could you see a person’s soul in their face? Marianne and Albrecht had often argued about this. Yes, she had insisted. Didn’t you know from the moment you saw Hitler’s photograph that he was bad? Albrecht wasn’t sure. If it was so obvious, he pointed out, how did he fool the rest of Germany?”
The Women in the Castle is haunting, a beautifully written and painfully vivid glimpse into one of the most horrific times in world history.