The German Wife by Debbie Rix

Today I pass the blog over to Mandie who has a books on tour review of The German Wife, by Debbie Rix. With thanks to publisher Bookouture for the inclusion in the tour and the early copy of the book for review. Here’s what it’s all about:

Source: Netgalley
Release date: 13 January 2022
Publisher: Bookouture

About the Book

Inspired by true events, this is a heart-stopping, unforgettable story of ordinary people fighting for survival in the darkest of times. Fans of Orphan Train, The Tattooist of Auschwitz and My Name is Eva will be utterly gripped by this beautiful, tragic World War Two novel.

Germany, 1939:Annaliese is trapped in a loveless marriage. Her husband Hans has become cold and secretive since starting a new job as a doctor at Dachau. Every morning she watches from her kitchen window as he leaves in his car. The sight of him in the dark uniform of the SS sends shivers of fear down her spine and she longs to escape…

When a tall, handsome Russian prisoner named Alexander is sent from Dachau to work in their garden, lonely Annaliese finds herself drawn to him as they tend to the plants together. In snatched moments and broken whispers, Alexander tells her the shocking truth about the camp. Horrified, Annaliese vows to do everything she can to save him.

But as they grow closer, their feelings for each other put their lives at risk. And Annaliese finds herself in grave danger when she dares to fight for love and freedom…

America, 1989: Turning the pages of the newspaper, Annaliese gasps when she recognizes the face of a man she thought she’d never see again. It makes her heart skip a beat as a rush of wartime memories come flooding back to her. As she reads on, she realizes the past is catching up with her. And she must confront a decades-old secret – or risk losing her only son…

Mandie’s Thoughts

Annaliese Vogel was happily married to Hans who is a doctorat the beginning of WW2. When he signs up with the SS in order to protect himself and his career their lives are changed forever. Assigned to Dachau to initially work on experiments into disease control to protect German troops. As he is pulled into more sinister experimentation his attitude changes and Annaliese finds they are being pulled apart and their once happy marriage is in trouble. Hans is horrified by what he witnesses and has to do but he feels that if he wants to survive the war himself he has no other choice and has to enlist his wife at times for what he sees as the greater good. 

The book’s prologue introduces us to Annaliese with her new life in America where she is a retired interior decorator. Confronted with a face from her past it brings back the memories she thought lay hidden. From here we are taken back to her life in Germany and see her struggles with what that entails as the war progresses. It is in these chapters we are given a different perspective of the war and what it meant for German families who lived on the periphery of what was happening.

There was a part of me that felt sorry for Annaliese as she did her best to adapt to the constant changes, living with her overbearing mother-in-law and her crumbling marriage. As she fought for normalcy there were times that I wanted her to stop ignoring what was happening and confront her husband. Even when she found out some of the horrors that were being inflicted on prisoners she seemed to bottle it up.

As the relationship grew between Annaliese and the prisoner her husband had managed to get assigned as their gardener, you could see the glimmer of the woman she used to be and her dreams of them making a life together were a way of shutting everything else out as ultimately you knew that their very different experiences in the war should they both survive would keep them apart.

With a mix of historical events and fiction I was certainly intrigued by this book, and I do hope that the fate of Hans after the war was part of the fiction part and that the trade-offhe received was not common practice during that time. Even now I am not sure if I feel sympathy for Annaliese or uncomfortable about how she shut out things to preserve her own life but at she is certainly a character that I will remember.

About the Author

Debbie Rix has had a long career in journalism, including working as a presenter for the BBC. Her first novel, The Girl with Emerald Eyes was set around the building of the tower of Pisa and she has since released Daughters of the Silk Road and The Silk Weaver’s Wife. Debbie writes heartbreaking historical novels about love, tragedy and secrets.

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