Book Review: The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck

 Book Review The Women in the Castle {living outside the stacks}

This book was provided to me free of charge by HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review.

My review is part of the TLC Book Tour.

Title: The Women in the Castle

Author: Jessica Shattuck

Genre: Fiction

Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks

Release Date: 28 March 2017

Format: Hardcover

Pages: 353

ABOUT THE BOOK {from the inside flap of the book}

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.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jessica Shattuck is the award~winning author of The Hazards of Good Breeding, which was a New York Times Notable Book and finalist for the PEN/Winship Award, and Perfect Life. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, New Yorker, Glamour, Mother Jones, Wired, and The Believer, among other publications. A graduate of Harvard University, she received her MFA from Columbia University. She lives with her husband and three children in Brookline, Massachusetts.

You can learn more about Jessica Shattuck on her website, like her on Facebook, or follow her on Twitter.

MY OPINION

Marianne, Ania, and Benita are resistance widows; their husbands were executed for the failed assassination attempt on the life of Adolf Hitler {also known as Operation Valkiyrie}. This is not a romantic novel about three women who survive World War II together; this is a gritty novel about the aftermath of the war and what these women had to do during and after to survive. This novel is also about morality: the black, the white, and the gray areas in between. It’s a novel about complicity and ignorance {both willful and actual}…

This is one of those books that made me think long after the story had ended. We all like to think that, in a terrible situation, we would do the honorable thing and look after our neighbors and provide a voice for those who are being silenced. But, what if, speaking up means you lose your life or that your children could end up suffering? What then?

I think what actually got me was that I ended up feeling rather sympathetic towards someone that I would have initially judged {and judged harshly} had I known her backstory. I found myself thinking what would I do to save my children? Would I turn a blind eye to the world around me and focus only on them and their survival? Or would I be willing to sacrifice my children or myself to save someone else?

The characters in this novel are well developed, the varied stories are tightly written, and the amount of research that went into the writing of this novel is evident. If you like historical fiction, I think you’ll enjoy this novel.

I’d recommend this book for book groups as there are a variety of themes that can lead to some interesting discussions.

MY FAVORITE SENTENCE/PASSAGE

Years later, as a professor, Martin would try to find the words to articulate the power of togetherness in a world where togetherness had been corrupted – and to explore the effect of the music, the surprising lengths the people had gone to to hear it and to play it, as evidence that music, and art in general, are basic requirements of the human soul. Not a luxury but a compulsion. He will think of it every time he goes to a museum or a concert or a play with a long line of people waiting to get inside.

page 149

RATING
★★★★★

PURCHASING OPTIONS

If you purchase this book using the above link, I will earn a small commission. Thank you for supporting my reading habit.

Have you read this book? What were your thoughts? Let’s discuss…

Daenel T {Living Outside the Stacks}

 

 

 

 

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  • How very coincidental that someone recommended this book to me this week. Now I know I need to read it. I think often people do what they have to do to survive and protect those they love. Living on the Mexican border, I think about what lengths I would go to bring my children to the U.S. for a better life. When we first moved to El Paso, we could watch women riding on the shoulders of mules (men paid to carry them) across the Rio Grande (which is a misnomer in EP). I was never too certain I wouldn’t have tried to slip my family across the river to a better life. But in my head, I do believe there is a right way to do things like immigrating. Desperation often blurs the rules.

    • You hit the nail on the head. It’s easy for us to say {from the comforts of our homes} what we would and would not do but if roles were reversed…

      And, yes, definitely read this book. If you do, I’d love to know your thoughts.

      • Hey – Just wanted to let you know I am ordering this today! I have so many books to shelve so want to listen to it via Audible while I work! Also have 5 classes coming, though, so may not get many books put up.

        • I cannot wait to hear what you have to say about this book. Honest to goodness, it made me think long and hard about what I would and would not do to protect my family.

          • Enjoying it so far. It has been my book to shelve books by this week!

            • Apologies for the late reply… How’d you like the book?

  • HeatherTLC

    I know what you mean – I often think about what lengths I would go to in order to protect my family. It is scary to think what I might be willing to do given the right circumstances.

    Thanks for being a part of the tour!

    • Exactly. I’d like to think I’d be honorable and noble, but when it comes to my babies… I just don’t know.

      Thank you for the invitation.

  • Pingback: Jessica Shattuck, author of The Women in the Castle, on tour March/April 2017 | TLC Book Tours()

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