“Once you knew – really knew – of the women and children being shot in the woods, of the shower rooms constructed for the sole purpose of killing, how could you not act?”
In The Women in the Castle, three women in Germany have their lives forever changed during World War 2. Marianne loses her husband during his fight with the resistance. Benita is very young, and also loses her husband, but without knowing what he was doing. Ania was part of the Nazis until there was a moral choice before her and she made the wrong choice. The women come together after the war as Marianne seeks out the women whose husbands fought against their country’s leader to take care of them since she was appointed the “commander of the women and the children” by the men.
My mother recommended this book to me and I chose it for the September Online Book Club book. Historical fiction set in World War II is very popular, but can sometimes be hard to read. I usually learn something new each time I read a historical fiction book. The Women in the Castle deals with how the people in Germany dealt with what was happening in their own country. Some knew nothing, some heard rumors, some heard from witnesses and some saw with their own eyes. There were participants, too, but those who didn’t participate had to decide when and if to take any action about what was going on. The cost of action had to be weighed.
Marianne sees the world in black and white and as soon as she and her husband hear about women and children being shot in the woods from a trusted friend, she knows they must act. Her husband joins with other men who join the resistance movement. She promises to take care of Benita for her husband, Connie. Once the war ends, Marianne is armed with a list of names and finds Benita and her child, Martin, fairly early. Benita had been a prisoner of Russian men and her son had been taken to a children’s home. Benita is still very young and wants to move on with her life and forget the past. Marianne finds Ania and her children, but Ania has her secrets about her past that rock Marianne’s world when the come to light.
The book does a wonderful job dealing with a very sensitive theme – judging. It can be easy to judge, but harder and more important to try and understand. I would highly recommend this book to any adult. It does deal with war, violence and rape. It would make a good book club book as there are a lot of themes to discuss in the book.
What is your favorite WWII historical fiction book? Comment below!