the women in the castle

18493562_10154991322148392_349150091_oThe Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck

This book has been getting lots of good reviews so I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it! The Women in the Castle is the story of three women who come to live together in a rundown castle at the end of World War II. It reminded me very much of “The Nightingale” by Kristin Hannah.

The prologue starts out pre-war, where Marianne von Lingenfel promises to be “the commander/protector of the wives and children” at a secret meeting her husband, her lifetime friend, and other men are having to plan actions against Hitler. Later she is called “the widow of the resistance.”

In order to honor her promise to her husband, best friend and the other husbands (who were all caught and killed for their actions) she sets out in search of the wives and children left behind after the war.

First she locates Martin, son of her beloved, deceased friend Connie. Next she tracks down Benita (mother of Martin/wife of Connie). It is obvious they have both been deeply affected by the war.  Benita is broken, frail and withdrawn.  Martin is quiet and subdued. Their love for each other keeps them going.

Marianne then discovers another resister’s wife (Ania) and her children and brings them to live with her at the castle. Marianne, Benita and Ania develop a friendship and live together many years. Throughout all of their stories you learn about each of their struggles for survival, their damaged souls, and the horrible ordeals they have all survived.

The book exposes all the horrors of the Hitler era and the effects of war. Secrets are revealed that affect the friendships the women have forged.  Each woman has to come to terms with horrors from their past to move forward with their lives.  I can’t say much more without revealing too much about the book. It was a very good novel about war, friendship, love, the power of the past and the will to survive.   Highly recommended!!!

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The Nightingale

91KA1B7xWsL.jpgFinally got around to reading this gem.  A very moving story about two sisters during the holocaust era.  Isabelle has always been a bit of a rebel, always speaking her mind, determined to make a difference.  Vianne has always been the rule follower, cautious and afraid.  Both women are forced to be strong, face severe conditions and fight to survive during the war.

There are some chilling and horrific moments in the book that really open up your eyes to what people had to face during war.  The book focuses on how war effects people.  The book discusses family, love, loss and motherhood as well.

“If I have learned anything in this long life of mine, it is this:  In love we find out who we want to be; in war we find out who we are.”  “Grief, like regret, settles into your DNA and remains forever a part of us.”  Great book. Very moving! Couldn’t turn the pages fast enough.