Letters from Berlin, Review: Tania Blanchard’s stirring saga
Letters From Berlin by Tania Blanchard is stirring and emotion-fueled WWII fiction from the non-Nazi German perspective. Read on for our full review.
Letters from Berlin Book Synopsis
From the bestselling author of The Girl from Munich and Suitcase of Dreams comes an unforgettable tale of love, courage and betrayal inspired by a true story.
As the Allied forces edge closer, the Third Reich tightens its grip on its people. For eighteen-year-old Susanna Göttmann, this means her adopted family including the man she loves, Leo, are at risk.
Desperate to protect her loved ones any way she can, Susie accepts the help of an influential Nazi officer. But it comes at a terrible cost – she must abandon any hope of a future with Leo and enter the frightening world of the Nazi elite.
Yet all is not lost as her newfound position offers more than she could have hoped for … With critical intelligence at her fingertips, Susie seizes a dangerous opportunity to help the Resistance.
The decisions she makes could change the course of the war, but what will they mean for her family and her future?
(Simon & Schuster – October 2020)
Genre: Historical, Romance, Drama, Mystery
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Tania Blanchard’s Letters from Berlin brings vividly to life to a WWII perspective less often considered in fiction.
Susie is German by birth, by all appearances the Nazi’s idealised woman. However, she has a mind of her own and cannot stand idly by while her fellow Germans are persecuted because of the circumstances of their birth.
… the Third Reich was also at war with its own people.
She’s already lost her birth family, and so is prepared to do whatever it takes to keep her adoptive family, Aunt Elya (a Russian Jew), Onkel Georg (landed German gentry) and their son Leo safe.
While technically a multi-timeline novel, the bulk of the Letters from Berlin narrative is set in wartime Berlin. I felt the prose and dialogue in the wrapping (the bookended reading of the letters) was less successful than the absorbing tale of Susie’s life within them.
Her suspense-filled, and at times emotionally fraught first-person narrative depicts the tight-rope she, and undoubtedly countless others, walked ostensibly operating on both sides of the ideological lines drawn, and the great personal toll that takes.
Blanchard does not shy away from portraying the barbarism of war either – the needless loss of life, the wanton brutality, betrayal and revenge, and the immeasurable scarring of those that managed to survive. Also, this novel is the first I have read that depicts, in any great detail, life in East Berlin immediately after the war.
Much in this saga is haunting, even harrowing. But this context makes the small everyday resistances, the loyalty of friends and great love shared all the more potent and uplifting.
Tania Blanchard’s Letters from Berlin is a stirring tale heroing the immense courage displayed and great sacrifices people made for those they loved. Stories like this one based on elements of historical fact, also serve as powerful reminders of the perils of extremism.
BOOK RATING: The Story 4 / 5 ; The Writing 3.5 / 5 — Overall 3.75
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More stirring historical fiction:
The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris / Land of Hidden Fires by Kirk Kjeldsen / The Beast’s Garden by Kate Forsyth / Comedy in a Minor Key by Hans Keilson / The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes
About the Author, Tania Blanchard
Tania Blanchard was inspired to write by the fascinating stories her German grandmother told her as a child. Coming from a family with a rich cultural heritage, stories have always been in her blood. Her first novel published by Simon & Schuster Australia, The Girl from Munich, was a runaway bestseller, as was the sequel, Suitcase of Dreams. Tania lives in Sydney with her husband and three children. Letters from Berlin is her third novel.
This review counts toward my participation in the Aussie Author Challenge 2020 and the 2020 Australian Women Writers Challenge.
* Receiving a copy from the publisher for review purposes did not impact the expression of my honest opinions.