Cover of The Women in the Castle
Rated 3.91
16,640 ratings

The Women in the Castle

By: Jessica Shattuck

Publisher: HarperCollins Trade

Imprint: Morrow

Format: Hardcover | ISBN: 9780062563668

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On Sale: | Pages: 368

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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. "
This compelling novel is less a story with a dramatic arc than a tableau of how war and its aftermath affect ordinary people. While each woman is a vivid character, Shattuck also enables us to lift these women out of fiction and see them as representative of so many survivors who peered into the future with guilt and relief — and bewilderment at their role in history.
—Minneapolis Star Tribune
THE WOMEN IN THE CASTLE is thoroughly enjoyable. The plot moves along and propels you to keep reading. The narrative allows the reader to see things from the perspective of each of the women and spans the years of their lives so one gains complete pictures of the characters. The writing is clean, the storytelling is solid, and Shattuck paints a vivid portrait of a reeling, recovering Germany and the humanity contained within it.
World War II has inspired dozens of unforgettable novels, but Jessica Shattuck offers a mesmerizing new look at the aftermath of the war... Shattuck was inspired to write the book by her shame over her German heritage, and the wartime era's links to contemporary political issues. Her book answers the question “How do good people become Nazis?” with insight and empathy. The Women in the Castle stands tall among the literature that reveals new truths about one of history's most tragic eras.
—USA Today
Shattuck lets us see what Marianne too readily forgets: Her moral qualms are not just a mark of her often admirable and heroic character, but also a luxury made possible by wealth and status, protecting her during and after the war.... Shattuck is best in the second half of her book, as she turns her gaze on those immediate postwar years when lying in Germany was both survival tactic and way of life.... Even as “Castle” chronicles the guilt, shame and denial, Shattuck also credibly traces how the descent into madness could have happened, hardening good people one fatal misstep at a time... Shattuck's effective, cross-cutting temporal shifts...underscores the ongoing, nightmarish yesterday that Germany continued to live, long after the war ended.
—Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
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