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The Women in the Castle

by Jessica Shattuck

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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1,3321079,849 (3.94)61
Three women, haunted by the past and the secrets they holdSet 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. Written with the devastating emotional power of The Nightingale, Sarah's Key, and The Light Between Oceans, Jessica Shattuck's evocative and utterly enthralling novel offers a fresh perspective on one of the most tumultuous periods in history. Combining piercing social insight and vivid historical atmosphere, The Women in the Castle is a dramatic yet nuanced portrait of war and its repercussions that explores what it means to survive, love, and, ultimately, to forgive in the wake of unimaginable hardship.… (more)
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  1. 10
    The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah (dawnlovesbooks)
    dawnlovesbooks: both about women in the era of hitler

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» See also 61 mentions

English (108)  Danish (1)  All languages (109)
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Book on CD narrated by Cassandra Campbell

Three German widows are brought together shortly after World War II ends. Marianne von Lingenfels returns to her deceased husband’s ancestral castle – now in ruins. He had conspired with other resisters to assassinate Hitler and was himself murdered. But Marianne had promised her husband’s conspirators to find their families and help them, so that is what she sets out to do. First she rescues Martin, the young son of her childhood friend, from a Nazi re-education camp. They then find Martin’s mother, Betina, a beautiful but naïve, young woman. Finally, Marianne locates Ania, a quiet, resourceful and determined mother of two boys who have been in one of the many refugee camps that house the many citizens displaced by the war.

I liked the idea of this novel’s story more than I liked the actual book.

Make no mistake, there are some interesting and thought-provoking themes here. How does one move on after enduring such traumatic events? How do we recognize the ways we may be complicit – by willful ignorance, by standing by, by NOT making waves – and atone for that? Can we “allow” someone else to find happiness (let alone celebrate it), when we are so angry, hurt, fearful, ashamed? Can we allow future generations to NOT carry the burden?

However, on the whole I found the novel completely forgettable. I’m sure this is ME and not the novel. I’ve only just now looked at the back cover with all the blurbs by authors I love, singing Shattuck’s praises. And, of course, many people whose opinions I trust have rated the book highly. Perhaps I’m just completely over the desire to read about WWII and its aftermath.

Cassandra Campbell did a marvelous job performing the audiobook. She’s a gifted voice artist and has become one of my favorite audiobook narrators. ( )
  BookConcierge | Jun 7, 2020 |
So like any other book, I picked this up, started reading and learning about the characters then all of a sudden about 50 pages in I realized I was completely lost inside this book and nothing else around me existed. I'm not sure at what point this happened. Maybe right from the start? But I was engrossed into the lives of these people. While I had nothing in common with them, they were my people and I needed to keep reading. The writing is flawless. Every sentence moves you forward in the story and brings you deeper into their lives. So beautifully written. I won't ever forget these women. ( )
  CatherineStewart | Mar 21, 2020 |
Loved the strong women characters! Great way to wrap up a story, also!! ( )
  nwieme | Mar 19, 2020 |
I have done some good reading this year but The Women In the Castle was the best so far. Jessica Shattuck told a deeply engaging story that got at the complexities of war and peace, specifically the actions and reactions of ordinary Germans to the horrors of World War II. She tells the story of three women and their children as they live through the chaos that was the end of the war. The women, wives of conspirators whose attempted assassination of Hitler failed in summer 1944, each bring secrets with them to the old castle, the ancestral home of one of the conspirators, where they struggle to make a life for themselves and their children. At times a painful read, the book explores survival and shame while depicting the strength of the women when faced with unimaginable horror and adversity. ( )
  witchyrichy | Feb 27, 2020 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
"She was her own kind of dreamer, a blind mathematician skating along the thin surface of life, believing in the saving power of logic, reason, and information, overlooking the whole murky expanse of feeling and animal instinct that was the real driver of human behavior, the real author of history."

I really enjoyed this book. Set in WWII-era, this historical fiction was about finding family from the wreckage of war. I really liked learning about each of these women and their pasts. ( )
  Allison_Krajewski | Feb 20, 2020 |
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» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Shattuck, Jessicaprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Campbell, CassandraNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lai, Chin-YeeCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Myers, RenéeCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Shutterstock.comCover imagessecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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In memory of my mother, Petra Tolle Shattuck, and my grandmother, Anneliese Tolle
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Burg Lingenfels, November 9, 1938

The day of the countess's famous harvest party began with a driving rain that hammered down on all the ancient von Lingenfels castle's sore spots - springing leaks, dampening floors, and turning its yellow façade a slick, beetle-like black. (Prologue)
Burg Lingenfels, June 1945

The entire cart ride from the train station to Burg Lingenfels, Benita lay on the musty hay bales in a half stupor, no longer caring what she looked like: a slut or a vagabond reclining in the open air, making her way across the country with all the dignity of a sack of potatoes.
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