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Book DetailsISBN: 9781760852054
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Book Review: Letters from Berlin by Tania Blanchard - Reviewed by CloggieA (04 Sep 2020)
4.5?s “I nodded, not sure that I wanted to be a part of the Nazi social elite. It meant that I was one of them, with the same warped values and attitudes. It felt wrong in all sorts of ways. I took a large swallow of the champagne. But I had to remember why I was doing this.”
Letters From Berlin is the third novel by Australian author, Tania Blanchard. The Hecker family are everything to her, all she has left. Onkel Georg and Tante Elya took in seven-year-old Susanna Göttmann when her family died; their son, Leo has become the love of her life. Susie knows that Leo will never understand why she has chosen to keep company with Julius Siebenborn, an elite Nazi, a man Leo says can’t be trusted.
Tante Elya is a Russian Jew; as a prosperous estate owner, Onkel Georg has managed to keep her and their “mischling” son safe by catering to the expensive tastes of those in power. But with the Fuhrer’s determination to rid Germany of all Jews, the rules change at the whim of Nazi executive, and only someone like Julius can create loopholes for the people Susie loves. She has to trust him.
In her third novel, Blanchard easily captures her setting and the era; her plot is credible and her characters are easy to love (or despise, as required); her extensive research is apparent on every page of this rather different look at Word War Two.
Stories about this war often present the perspective of those in Allied countries, but of course, the ordinary German people were at the receiving end of bombs too; they had rationing; their men were conscripted to fight in a war they didn’t necessarily believe in. And they had further disadvantages: they were being led by a madman; and the Third Reich propaganda machine kept them ignorant of much that was being done in their name.
Blanchard takes the many known facts pertaining to the wartime experiences of her own grandmother’s family and brings them to life, weaving into them aspects of self-sacrifice and betrayal, love and loss and loyalty. For, if war brings forth the worst of humanity, it also showcases the best of it; in extraordinary circumstances, ordinary people manage to achieve extraordinary things, and Blanchard’s novel emphatically demonstrates this. This is an utterly engrossing read. This unbiased review is from an uncorrected proof copy provided by NetGalley and Simon and Schuster Australia
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