A month or so ago I noticed several World War II books that looked like they had great potential, especially for all those who loved "The Nightingale" by Kristen Hannah or "All the Light we Canntot See" by Anthony Doerr.
I rushed to read them all so I could give you some feedback and let you decide which you want to read.
The good news is they are all good in their own, in a completely different way, so the choice is yours.
I will review in the order that I read.
First was "The Women in the Castle," by Jessica Shattuck.
This book is from the POV of German women, and really brings home both the attitude of the resisters and those who were lured by the Hitler rhetoric, only to wake up to the horror of the reality. This book is staying with me as I consider all the similarities to our time. In my never ending fascination with World War II, and how anything like Hitler could have happened, I have always wondered: if this type of thing happened in my time, what would I do? Would I resist? Would I know enough to even resist? Would I keep my mouth shut, and go along with it, and wake up to a nightmare? This book explored these questions in a way that felt real and possible.
The problem with the book is that it had too many flashbacks, even later in the book, so that it frustrated me. It seemed that every time we had forward momentum, there was a flashback that honestly could have been presented earlier in the book to build the characters. I think there was enough of a hook that it could have been done, kept the readers interested, and kept us from the frustration of the full throttle stop.
Also, the title is a little bit flashy, in my mind, for the story. Yes, three women stay in the castle for a short time, during World War II, but then they move on, although one of the women still has ownership of the castle. I'm not sure I believe she would have retained ownership, but I guess that is a minor matter.
Otherwise, I really enjoyed the book and will be interested to see how much staying power it has.
Next is "The Chilbury Ladies Choir," by Jennifer Ryan. This book really surprised me. I am not certain how I found this book, or whether many will discover it, but it was very good. It is presented in epistolary form, which can create a slow and boring journey. Not so in this case. Each voice is very sharp and the characters are distinct and well-fleshed out. The story has good hook, as you wonder what in the world is going to happen to these women who live in England, close to the channel, during WWII. My only complaint for this book is that, in the end, it was all wrapped up too nice and neat and that was not necessary.
Next was "In Farliegh Field," by Rhys Bowen, which also takes place in a provincial area of England, near the channel, during WWII, but instead of focusing on the women, the story evolves around some childhood friends, both boys and girls, who come of age during the war. They all have things to hide and it all comes to a head in a rush with a story that is actually grounded in fact. I don't want to give anything away but I do think if you enjoy that type of novel you will enjoy this one.
Finally I will mention a book I would not have heard of without Lonestar Texas Blogger Tour. I ended up loving it, partly because of its East Texas base and partly because I think the writer, Kim Fisher, just has "it," that good story telling gene, with wit, and the ability to deliver good characters with sharp dialogue. I've already blogged about it with #lonestarlit, so for a more full review you can click here.