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The Women in the Castle: A Novel
By: Jessica Shattuck
List Price: $16.99
Your Price: $12.22
(as of: 01/22/19)
Manufacturer: William Morrow Paperbacks
ISBN: 9780062563675
Publication Date: 2018-01-02
Release Date 2018-01-02
Availability: Usually ships in 24 hours

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GoodReads Choice Awards Semifinalist 

"Moving . . . a plot that 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.

Marianne von Lingenfels has always been strong, and that strength has gotten her and her two young sons through years of war in their German home. A promise to her husband, a prominent member of the Resistance, leads Marianne to seek and find other widows of that effort and bring them back to Castle von Lingenfels. Marianne finds her childhood friend’s widow and young son and brings them home, and soon after another mother with two young sons rounds out the group living in the drafty old castle.

Existence is a day-to-day effort, and their safety is always at risk. Although the war is over, life is far from stable, but the three women work together to provide for their children, putting their abilities to test while all learn to live in this new world. Each of the women has a complicated history with secrets too devastating to bear, but the fight for survival is foremost. As the children grow and Germany returns to what is a new normal, each of the women finds their lives changing, intersecting uncomfortably with the past at some times, and moving towards a time when their living arrangements will not be necessarily bound by the needs of the past.

The Women in the Castle is a remarkably essential book for today – as the generation of people who lived, fought and survived World War II in all parts of the world age and pass away, it becomes all the more important to capture their stories of resiliency, self-reliance and nonconformity. Author Jessica Shattuck has constructed a novel in which readers will immediately become engaged, and the depth of each of the characters is remarkable. The burdens each of the women carry are unimaginable, yet those burdens never weigh the story down, instead creating an instant empathy for each of the women, their story and the ultimate resolution of their lives. The Women in the Castle is an engrossing and intimate novel of love, sacrifice, betrayal and forgiveness, a truly thought-provoking, must-read book of 2017.

By: Joyce Greenfield, ReaderToReader.com

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