The Women in the Castle: A Novel

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9780062563668: The Women in the Castle: A Novel

INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

"Moving . . . surprises and devastates."—New York Times Book Review

"A masterful epic."—People magazine

"Mesmerizing . . . The Women in the Castle stands tall among the literature that reveals new truths about one of history’s most tragic eras."—USA Today

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.

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Review:

An Amazon Best Book of April 2017: Much of the buzz touting Jessica Shattuck’s WWII novel, The Women in the Castle, likens it to Kristin Hannah’s wildly popular, The Nightingale. It’s an apt comparison—both feature brave women overcoming nearly unfathomable obstacles. But their association actually made me hesitant to pick it up. Surely the well of enthusiasm for Nazi-related dramas has to be running dry, and if it hasn’t, then an author really needs to “bring it.” Well, that well is still brimming as it turns out, and Ms. Shattuck certainly does. The women referred to in the title are widows of three conspirators involved in the assassination attempt on Hitler. Marianne von Lingenfels, whose moneyed pedigree has protected her from the more unsavory punishments of the war, has been tasked with locating the other resistance widows, and ensuring their safety. But she is no superhero. Along with the na´ve Benita and inscrutable Ania, they represent the everyday, ordinary Germans swept up in the extraordinary, who survived as best they could when the right thing to do wasn’t always clear (or even an option). If you’re curious about what it was like to be a typical citizen during this time--if you struggle to comprehend how a society could become a breeding ground for Hitler’s brand of evil, The Women in the Castle offers some insight. It also draws some chilling parallels to things brewing in the political climate today. Jessica Shattuck has provided a worthy addition to the canon of great WWII literature, one that answers why the appetite for this genre has not abated: In many ways, we still haven’t learned the lessons that history has to teach us. --Erin Kodicek, The Amazon Book Review

From the Back Cover:

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 Marianne 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, and filled with dark secrets 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 devastating emotional power, 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, to love, and, ultimately, to forgive in the wake of unimaginable hardship.

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