Women and War

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Three widows, their children, a castle, and World War II era Germany are the bare bones comprising The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck, where these women’s lives unfold in new ways after the end of the war.

Toward the end of World War II, there is a resistance effort to assassinate Hilter in order to prevent further atrocities, but it ultimately fails, leaving the men of the resistance dead and their widows forced to endure their demise. Marianne von Lingenfels, the wife of one of the resistors and best friend to another, had promised to protect the wives and children of the resistance. In keeping her word, Marianne returns to the castle of her ancestors and tries to bring as many broken families back together as possible, starting with that of her best friend by locating his son, Martin, and wife, Benita. As Marianne’s new makeshift family develops, she and they are faced with coming to accept how the decisions they’ve made define them.

As a story of three women brought together by the tragedy of Hitler and war in Germany and their struggles to come to terms with their decisions during this time, the narrative dealt with heavily emotional topics without straying too far into the graphic brutality that occurred during this period. Jumping around in time to unfold the women’s stories worked well to divulge information at times when it would make the most impact to the narrative and reveal the most about a particular character (and the character development throughout was fairly well done). It was interesting to read about the perspective of the women who were linked to a resistance effort in Germany during this incredibly tumultuous time, as this is not a perspective of World War II that is often read about.

Overall, I’d give it a 4 out of 5 stars.

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