A Woman Of War by Mandy Robotham is an unforgettable tale of courage, betraya; and love in the most unlikely of places, perfect for readers of The Tattooist of Auschwitz and Kate Furnivall.
Germany, 1944. Taken from the camps to serve the Fuhrer himself, Anke Hoff is assigned as midwife to one of Hitler’s inner circle. If she refuses, her family will die.
Torn between her duty as a caregiver and her hatred for the Nazi regime, Anke is swept into a life unlike anything she’s ever known – and she discovers that many of those at the Berghof are just as trapped as she is. And soon, she’s falling for a man who will make her world more complicated still…
Before long, the couple face an impossible choice – and the consequences could be deadly. Can their forbidden love survive the horrors of war? And, more importantly, will they?
Ok, firstly, before I get onto my thoughts, there is something that I just want to mention. Due to the nature of this book, references are made throughout to death, torture and murders. They are spoken about in a matter of fact way and aren’t as gruesome as in other books. Despite this, they can still be heart-breaking to read so bare this in mind.
If you have read any of my other reviews on this blog, you will know that I enjoy historical fiction books set during the second world war. Usually though I will pick books that are set in Britain during that time. Not because I don’t want to read about life in Germany. This is because there just aren’t as many books set in civilian Germany at that time.
A new perspective?
Knowledge that I’ve picked up over the years told me that this was going to be a harrowing book. I know it would show the full of harsh realities of the Nazi regime. What you can’t tell from the blurb is that the character Anke is sent to a labour camp in reaction to crimes against the Reich. It gives a different perspective on life in a camp rather than it being centred around Jews in a concentration camp. Doing it this way, Mandy Robotham is able to show the different levels of cruelty and neglect each group faced.
The book starts off in Germany 1944 but soon flicks back and forth to Berlin 1942. It slowly starts to build up an idea of how Anke and her family found themselves imprisoned. It also allows the reader to see inside Anke’s mind and build a connection with her.
Stand out themes in A Woman Of War
One theme that really connects the whole story together is that you can make friends in the most unlikely situations. When Anke is taken from the labour camp and placed right in the centre of the Nazi regime, she needs to learn who to trust. Its not an easy thing to work out, especially during wartime.
The unlikely theme of romance really heats up from the middle of the book and you feel like its a Romeo and Juliet classic. As the reader, all you can do is watch that love blossom and hope for an ending full of happiness.
The right ending?
The book is brought to a close in the last chapter. It is set in Berlin in 1990, just as the wall is falling. You then realise that what you have been reading is someone’s mind going back over that difficult period as they look towards a new era for Berlin. It is also during that time that you find out what happened to most of the characters that are mentioned in the book. Some characters lead lives exactly how you had wished. However, this book really shows the true meaning of war, because for some of the characters, they never see the end of the war. You will definitely need your tissues for that small but poignant chapter.
I won’t lie and say that at times I didn’t like what I was reading. However, whilst the author stated that it is a work of fiction, I know that similar events would have taken place in labour camps in Germany and beyond. The fact that these events were able to affect so many people is heart-breaking. Having said that, it is a really powerful book and one that I would say is a must-read. I just couldn’t put the book down because I wanted to know how the story unfolded. The plot of this book is one that will stay with me for years to come.