The time period for most of this book is WW II, the viewpoint and setting is Germany. Usually I gravitate toward England and occasionally France for novels set in the WW II era. This was, at times, difficult to read.
The first chapter starts in 1989, the setting New York. Ava Fischer sits on her bed crying after learning about her mother’s death and past life. Ava had banished her mother, Ilse von Fischer, from her life ten years prior. You’ll learn why as you read on. She receives a box from Ilse’s attorney with her mother’s ashes and a cache of letters addressed to Renate Bauer. Bauer isn’t a name Ava has ever heard and doesn’t know who the woman. Why would her mother be writing to Bauer?
Ava discovers unsettling things about her mother’s involvement with the Ilse BDM (Bund Deutscher madel) in Nazi Germany. The chapters go back and forth mainly between Ilse and Renate in the early 1930’s. Ava’s chapters are interspersed.
Ilse and Renate were very good friends. They shared secrets, books, loved one another without question. There was one scene where they defied the German soldiers and went into a Jewish bakery together. The boycott of Jewish businesses didn’t bother these two young ladies as they strode past the soldiers in search of sweets. Such boycotts were ridiculous for these headstrong teenagers.
But as you read on there is a sadness that such a wonderful friendship could be severely strained and eventually fractured over one being Jewish. Perhaps it’s the political climate in America today but this book had my mind drifting to the hate crimes and gang mentality I currently see in the news. While it was well written it was at times hard to read.
Reading how Ilse and Renate’s friendship was tested because Renate was Jewish was uncomfortable. Reading how relationships could change in a snap because of one’s heritage was sad.
Foodie book – no way. There were delectable bakery items and a traditional German meal mentioned.
Buttery poppyseed cakes, stolen, fruit pies, apple cakes, doughnuts, Schweinebraten in a crackling glaze of paprika, mustard and caraway seeds.
Publication date for this historical fiction novel is April 23, 2019. Check it out at your local bookstore or online book store.
Thank you very much Netgalley for this digital copy of the book. I received this complimentary copy and was not compensated for my opinion/review.