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Black Roses by Jane Thynne

Black Roses (2013)

by Jane Thynne

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This atmospheric novel is set in Berlin in 1933, following the rise to power of Hitler’s Nazi Party. Clara Vine, an English actress from a prominent British family, flees from conventional torpor at home to take up a vague offer of a part in a film being made in Berlin. When she arrives at the studio, she finds that the producer appears to have disappeared without trace. This comes as a severe blow to Clara, who does not know how she might survive, and fears that she might have to face the ignominy of an early return home and surrender to the social life being mapped out for her back in England. By chance, however, she meets Helga, a feisty German actress who has been living on her wits for years, and who introduces Clara to other figures within the burgeoning German film industry.

Clara is completely bilingual, having had a German mother, and soon finds herself at home in the German studios, although she is concerned to find that most aspects of the film industry have already been permeated by senior Nazis. Helga is happy to make herself amenable to these men, recognising that that might be the only way in which she, as an actress of limited histrionic talent, might progress. Clara is more reluctant, until a chance encounter with Leo Quinn, who works in the visa section of the British Embassy, as cover for his real role as Deputy Head of Station for the Secret Service. Leo convinces Clara of the valuable work that she might undertake while posing as an actress and allowing herself to become close to the various Nazi officials who abound around the studio.

The combination of her acting skills and good looks lead to her being chosen to work for Magda Goebbells, wife of the Nazi propaganda chief, who is leading an initiative to promote German fashion. This allows her a golden opportunity to mix with prominent figures in Hitler’s newly empowered regime, although she is left to make some devastating and stretching choices.

The story is very well crafted, and excellently written. Ms Thynne admirably captures the atmosphere of the time, and Clara Vine and Leo Quinn come across as immensely plausible characters (far more so than my hasty synopsis above might suggest). There is a wide range of characters, all complementing each other, and the cameo appearances by Hitler and several of his senior supporters are compelling and chilling. All in all, a successful blend of adventure, espionage, suspense and romance, that captures the reader’s attention from the opening paragraph, and doesn’t relax its grip at all. ( )
  Eyejaybee | May 13, 2018 |
From my daughter's pile of library books. Really enjoyed it. She had a good find on the library's bookshelf! It didn't really end, as such, Clara neither escapes nor gets away from Goebbels on the last page, turns out that it's part of a trilogy so I've reserved book 2 :) ( )
  teedee_m | Aug 25, 2017 |
Black Roses by Jane Thynne is a story of suspense that is set in 1933 Germany. Actress Clara Vine has come to Berlin from her home in London to try and break into the European films but she finds herself socializing with a group of highly placed Nazi wives. She is approached by Leo Quinn, an undercover British intelligence agent and is recruited to spy on these new acquaintances. One of the main reasons she agrees to this is her discovery that her mother was Jewish.

This is the first book of a series and I am hooked already. This is a great blend of history and suspense, with a little romance to spice things up. The use of Nazi wives and girlfriends gives the book a slightly different slant than usual without sacrificing the tension and danger. The exploration of the female side of the Third Reich in the 1930’s is both interesting and chilling.

The author has done her research and much of the dialogue has been taken from letters, memoirs and diaries of the women involved. This is a fascinating look at what Berlin was like when Hitler and the Nazis first took power in the early 1930’s. I am looking forward to the next book. ( )
1 vote DeltaQueen50 | Jun 11, 2017 |
This was a fun read. Much info re Germany in the 30`s as Hitler had just come to power. Clever use of main character as a young actress with access to important wives. Thynne`s husband, Philip Kerr, also writes of the german situation as the war prospect unfolds. Very difficult to find her books in US. Wish her publisher would find an audience here. Historically accurate... ( )
  kerrlm | Apr 28, 2016 |
Black Roses masterfully documents the glamorous underbelly of 1930s Berlin. It is the story of Clara Vine, an Anglo-German actress who becomes part of a tight-knit circle of Nazi wives, including Magda Goebbels. The narrative moves through the genres of romance, crime, thriller and history with ease. There is also a film noir essence of Thynne's style which cleverly authenticates the film industry sub-plot. With snappy dialogue and atmospheric settings, she manages to maintain a sense of menace throughout the novel.

Aside from the political backdrop of Nazism and a crime narrative, it is clear that Thynne's enthusiasm is towards the gender politics within 1930s Germany. We are exposed to the misogyny and hypermasculinity that perpetuated their society. Hitler becomes a footnote to female superficiality and the male preoccupation of class, sex and status. Thynne details the high physical and cosmetic ideals placed upon women under Hitler's rule with sociological precision. Black Roses reads as a modern commentary on Western ideals towards women and could definitely revitalize the ever-popular genre of historical fiction. ( )
1 vote nikkihall | Jun 9, 2014 |
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For Philip, with love
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The first thing Clara noticed was that it was her own shoes the girl was wearing.
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Book description
Clara Vine is young and ambitious, and determined to succeed as an actress. A chance meeting at a party in London leads her to Berlin, to the famous Ufa Studios and, unwittingly, into an uneasy circle of Nazi wives, among them Magda Goebbels.

The Clara meets Leo Quinn who is undercover, working for British intelligence. Leo sees in Clara the perfect recruit to spy on her new acquaintances, using her acting skills to win their confidence.

But when Magda Goebbels reveals to Clara a dramatic secret and entrusts her with an extraordinary mission, Clara feels threatened, compromised and desperately caught between duty and love.
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Berlin, 1933. Clara Vine, an attractive young Anglo-German actress, arrives in Berlin to find work at the famous Ufa studios. Through a chance meeting, she is drawn into a circle of Nazi wives, among them Magda Goebbels, Anneliese von Ribbentrop and Goering's girlfriend Emmy Sonnemann. As part of his plan to create a new pure German race, Hitler wants to make sweeping changes to the lives of women. Then she meets Leo Quinn who is working for British intelligence and who sees Clara as the perfect recruit to spy on her new elite friends.… (more)

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