The Women in the Castle

The Women in the Castle

Book - 2017 | First edition.
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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.
Publisher: New York : William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, 2017.
Edition: First edition.
Copyright Date: ℗♭2016
ISBN: 9780062563668
Characteristics: 356 pages ; 24 cm


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Feb 07, 2021

This was an interesting read of how 3 women come together after having survived the loss of their husbands in WW2. Marianne, the leader, vows to protect the widows and children of the men who made a (failed) assassination attempt against Hitler and were hanged as a result. Each woman came from a different place and perspective pre-war, so the story blends the differences into a jumbled chemistry.

If you like historical fiction, this is a good read.

Jan 09, 2021

Read and returned Inverness 1-5-21

May 25, 2020


Mar 02, 2020

I absolutely loved this book. I went through a range of emotions reading this and had a few really late night because I just couldn't put it down. I highly recommend this book to everyone.

Jan 25, 2020

An easy-to-listen to story. Captivates the attention by following the lives of three women throughout the 1920's to 1950's.

Sep 26, 2019

Great reviews. Recommended by Lynn

Jun 16, 2019

Another interesting historical story of WWII in Germany.

What sets this book apart is the author's family stories from their lives as German citizens during Hitler's reign, and the seven years it took Shattuck to finish writing their personal history.

The Resistance Party was new to me and I would like to know more of the German people who worked against Hitler and his ideas paying the ultimate price to free a people from this mad man.

Otherwise everyday German citizens were assigned to do unthinkable acts for 'the cause' which drove me to pacing the floor . . . however does one continue with any sense of normality when the war was finally over?

Worthy questions provided by the publisher for book group discussion.

Feb 27, 2019

I loved this story. It is about three German women with very different backgrounds who were brought together during WW11 and how they survived.

Jan 20, 2019

I”ve read several WWII books about women during the war. I thought this one was very good to understand how a German woman could let the evil of Hitler and the Holocoust not only happen, but be actively a part of it. It is especially timely to see how HItler turned people against their neighbors and accepted horrible acts through touting make Germany great again and controlling the media/ press/ rallies. Some of it is very difficult to read as descriptions of atrocities are included in detail. Also learned about what happened after the Russians defeated the Germans- not good either.

Jan 17, 2019

I'm not usually a big fan of WWII-era historical fiction, mainly because it always leaves me feeling depressed. But this one was well worth the aftermath. It did a phenomenal job of establishing the environment in which Hitler rose to power and was able to implement such horrific acts. It's easy, from the perspective of the past, to assume everyone who believed in his rhetoric was racist, or ignorant, or just generally a bad person. But, of course, that's a gross oversimplification of a situation was *must* understand, lest we repeat it.

And you guys, reading some of the character musings on Hitler's programs, how he normalized horrible hit pretty damned close to home. That wasn't even the focus of the book, it was just so powerful and well done that I fixated on it. This situation in which both ignorant peasants and educated elite agree with wonderful ideals that become darker and less idealistic over time. (Hitler's early toutings for landjahr, for instance, revolved around physical fitness, learning sustainable practices like farming, community, and music...that eventually clearly evolved into a more militaristic Hitler Youth situation, and his fixation on making children physically brutal)

So this is all reflected in the book, in the background. The primary story revolves around three widows, and their children, and a handful of years at the end and after WWII as they struggle to make their own community, survive, and essentially re-learn how to trust. The chief element is their humanity- all have regrets, impossible hopes, unrealistic standards, guilt and shame, etc. They are each incredibly relatable and real. And the story has enough bittersweet in it that for a time I wondered if it was partly based in the real life of someone the author knows.

If you can't tell from my rambling, I was impressed by the book and I recommend it to fans of fiction in general. Especially if you like historic fiction and/or bittersweet tales.

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