The Women in the Castle tells the story of three widowed women in post World War II, Germany. Even though each woman comes from a different level of society their history ties them together. All three are widowed wives of resisters, men who had hoped to assassinate Hitler and stop the war. When their plot failed, these women were left behind; Marianne to carry on in her husbands name to save the wives and families of other resisters, tragically Benita was left in the hands of the conquering army, and Ania and her two boys were left as refugees in a war camp. They come together and live in Marianne’s husband’s castle in Bavaria, each of them moving on in different ways.
Marianne was kind of the leader of this troop of women and children. It was her castle they resided in, so she did have the authority to make commands, but also because she had the strongest personality of the three. Her view of the world was very black and white. What their husbands fought for was good and pretty much everything else was evil. It was interesting to see her character grow and learn that there are many shades of grey in the world that don’t represent evil.
Benita was the widow of Marianne’s closest friend. She was stunningly beautiful and where beauty usually makes your life easier during a war it brings a ton of unwanted attention. Her story was the hardest to read as she endured some absolute horrors following her husbands death. As we viewed Benita mostly through Marianne’s eyes, she seemed so fragile against the strength of character that was Marianne’s backbone.
Ania was a mystery through most of this novel. She was sturdy, strong, and seemed to have a back breaking work ethic. Every time something needed to be done Ania had the strength and knowledge to complete the task. She and Marianne became best friends and partners, I think mostly because she buckled down and got the job done without complaint.
Reading a novel about World War II is so difficult because of all of the atrocities of this particular war. What set this novel apart from others I’ve read was that we see the war through these German women’s eyes. Their feelings about what Hitler and the Nazi’s did and the reaction of the people around them- or lack of reaction in a lot of cases. I think this might be the first novel where I read about the German people’s apathy. That most Germans had buried their head in the sand when it came to Hitler’s propaganda and escalating spewing of hatred towards Jews or embraced his theology. This book came out in the beginning of 2017 and now reading it a year and a half later I was stunned by the comparisons I could make to politics in the US right now. I don’t want to get political in my review, but those similarities are pretty scary.
I listened to the audio book of this novel. It is narrated by Cassandra Campbell who does an excellent job of reading and emoting while speaking in German, Polish, Russian and American accents. She was truly amazing. She read at a pace that fit the mood of the story and delivered each woman’s dialog with the deft skills of one of the best actors. Bravo, Cassandra! If you have 13+ hours to spare, I’d recommend listening to this book! Regardless if you are reading or listening, this book was truly excellent.
Click this link to purchase!* The Women in the Castle: A Novel
Copyright 2018 Deborah Kehoe The Reading Chick All Rights Reserved