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The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck
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The Women in the Castle

by Jessica Shattuck

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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9999312,804 (3.97)53
  1. 10
    The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah (dawnlovesbooks)
    dawnlovesbooks: both about women in the era of hitler
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» See also 53 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 97 (next | show all)
I must begin with the following words: I have been fascinated by this book!
Usually, when I read about the Second World War and especially about the Nazis, I am used to treating the Germans as the villains of the story, but here, in this book, I was surprised by the intensity of the story, which is also described by another side throughout this war. The book deals with the struggle of the women left by their husbands who made an effort to end the war by sacrificing their souls and their families (by actually betraying their homeland.) The sign of disgrace that these heroes marked their families remained, even after their death, to accompany their surviving spouses. This is the core of the story, which is beautifully told and written in my opinion. I loved the characters very much, and I was sorry with them, I immersed in the plot and didn't want to put down the book until I finished reading it. ( )
  RUTHKOLOCKR | Feb 24, 2019 |
This was a different look at World War II and post-war as it deals almost exclusively with Germany. The saying "To the victors go the spoils" could be amended by adding "and the book deals".

When a group of Germans plot to assassinate Hitler during WWII, it is the men who carry out the plot but the women are affected by the aftermath when the plot fails. The men are killed but some of the women are imprisonted and their children are taken from them. When the war is finally over Marianne von Lingenfels vows to carry out her duties as "the commander of the wives and children". She moves with her own children into the old and decrepit castle belonging to her husband's family and then sets out to find the widows of other resistors. She manages to find the son of her friend from childhood (Connie Fledermann) and then his wife Benita. Benita was one of the women imprisoned and at the end of the war she was passed from one Russian soldier to another. Benita thus owes a large debt to Marianne. Another widow, Ania, is discovered by sympathetic American soldiers in a nearby displaced persons camp and she joins the household. Ania is competent and realistic and helps Marianne run the household in ways Benita can't. On a night when a large group of starving Russian soldiers descend on the castle grounds it is Ania who sits up with Marianne. And Benita almost makes the situation much worse when she goes to warn a former Nazi prisoner who helps out cutting wood about the presence of the Russians. Benita never has the antipathy to Nazis that Marianne feels so her feelings for the former Nazi tend toward friendship and then love the more they are together. As Marianne learns more about her fellow widows and their secrets she cuts off ties with them. By the end of her life (and the end of the book) she realizes that there is quite a bit of grey and not everything is black and white. ( )
  gypsysmom | Feb 14, 2019 |
This is not the story of WWII nor is it the story of the holocaust, although those events are responsible for this story. This is the story of survival and friendship in the aftermath of a terrible time in history. Jessica Shattuck tells the story of three German women whose husbands were resistors and were killed for planning the assassination of Hitler.

When we meet Marianne von Lingenfels it is at her husband's aunt's annual party at the Castle, on the night that will become known as Kristallnacht. She happens upon a meeting of her husband and several other resistors plotting against Hitler. "Connie" Martin Constantine Fledermann, her childhood friend jokingly appoints her Commander of wives and children. She is annoyed, but this title and promise is what brings these three women together. After the war ends, Marianne finds Martin, Connie's son and Benita his wife, both in unsavory locations/situations and takes them with her to live in The Castle. Shortly after, she receives a call from an American Officer that they have located another wife and children of one of the names she gave them. She moves Ania and her two boys to The Castle from a Displaced Person's Camp. The story tells about the trials and tribulations these women and children had to deal with during this period. The dangers from roving Russian soldiers, the lack of food and water as well as other creature comforts, yet they were better off than many others. As the story unfolds we learn about their past and how it brought them to where they were and what will become of them in this "New Germany".

This story is one that needed to be told. I had not heard about what the citizens went through after the war. The scars that they had and the animosity between the resistors and the Nazis. Marianne was a strong woman who took a stand and helped others to the best of her ability. She was not perfect, but she was human. The plot had some slow spots but overall, kept me engaged and I enjoyed this story. A good one for historical fiction lovers. The publisher generously provided me with a copy of this book via Netgalley.

( )
  Carlathelibrarian | Feb 5, 2019 |
It is a beautiful and moving book, a book about people with values and ethics in one of the darkest periods (World War II) in history.
After the attempted assassination of Hitler, the women of the assassins remained. The book tells their story, how they survived. How the war and the period after it change people and how people relate to values. ( )
  AmandaParker | Feb 5, 2019 |
Fantastic book about three very different women caught up in the difficult world of Nazi Germany. Marianne returns to the grand castle of her husband's ancestors. She is smart, educated, and confident. When she promises to take care of the wife and child of a dear life long friend, she rescues young Martin from a Nazi reeducation center and then his mother, beautiful Benita. Even though Benita was born into meager circumstances and is young and naive, her only wish had been to escape her small town and live a good life. As Marianne undertakes to rescue more of the families of the Nazi resisters, she finds Ania and her two boys. Ania is practical and becomes a great help at the castle as the three become close while attempting to maneuver through the war including the invasion of the Russians.

There are many acts of bravery in this story but no heroes. Each woman brings her own guilt and faults to the situation Marianne is often too confident and has strong ideological beliefs against the Nazi. Benita is not in the least political but is sensitive and wants to find love. Ania is practical above all else and eventually marries a nearby neighbor insuring her sons have an inheritance.

The novel does not follow a chronological line but tells the story of the three together and then back tracks to their earlier lives. Each woman has a different relationship with their own children and each woman reacts differently as the war closes. Marianne makes a decision that ruins the hopes of Benita; Ania's background as a former Nazi eventually is found out.

The last chapters of the book take place in more contemporary times with Marianne living in the United States as does Martin, Benita's son. The castle in Germany is transformed into a center for the study of peace bringing together diverse peoples living in relative luxury. How much do the children really understand the sacrifices and difficulties that each of these women endured? What happens with ideology is more important than relationships?

This book is beautifully written and each of the characters are very believable. There are no black and white answers. Loved it! ( )
  maryreinert | Jan 8, 2019 |
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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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Epigraph
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In memory of my mother, Petra Tolle Shattuck, and my grandmother, Anneliese Tolle
First words
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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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0062563661, Hardcover)

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.

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Fri, 28 Oct 2016 09:57:52 -0400)

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.… (more)

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