Author: Phyllis Edgerly Ring
Publisher: Whole Sky Books
Type of book: 1930s, 1940s, 1995, Germany, America, secrets, friendship, giving up self, Eva Braun, German dictator, suicide, every four years, bakery, treatment of women, marriage, choices
Year it was published: 2015
Anna Dahlberg grew up eating dinner under her father’s war-trophy portrait of Eva Braun. Fifty years after the war, she discovers what he never did—that her mother and Hitler’s mistress were friends. The secret surfaces with a mysterious monogrammed handkerchief, and a man, Hannes Ritter, whose Third Reich family history is entwined with Anna’s. Plunged into the world of the “ordinary” Munich girl who was her mother’s confidante—and a tyrant’s lover—Anna finds her every belief about right and wrong challenged. With Hannes’s help, she retraces the path of two women who met as teenagers, shared a friendship that spanned the years that Eva Braun was Hitler’s mistress, yet never knew that the men they loved had opposing ambitions. Eva’s story reveals that she never joined the Nazi party, had Jewish friends, and was credited at the Nuremberg Trials with saving 35,000 Allied lives. As Anna's journey leads back through the treacherous years in wartime Germany, it uncovers long-buried secrets and unknown reaches of her heart to reveal the enduring power of love in the legacies that always outlast war.
Main characters include Anna Dalberg, a forty-something woman who is married to a man who doesn't treat her well. She knows next to nothing about her mother Peggy and often gets put down for her interests and hobbies. Peggy is Anna's mother, a woman born on February 29th. She is very plucky and spirited in early 1900s, while close to the end of her life, she is very closed off and does not share much about her life to her daughter Anna. Eva Braun is Peggy's friend and although they meet rarely, they inspire one another very frequently. Eva strikes me as lively in beginning, but then towards the end of her life she is sad and resigned. Hannes Ritter is someone I would describe as perfect and someone who is a talented chef and is there for Anna when her husband cannot or refuses to be. Lowell is Anna's husband who is very driven, ambitious and doesn't see Anna as a person.
We are more alike than we think
The story is told both in third person and first person narrative. Majority of the story is from Anna's point of view, about how she discovered her mother's secret, how she is dealing being with her ambitious husband and a possible crush as well as how her mother's legacy affects her. The story definitely has an interesting exploration as to why and how women give themselves up for men's ambitions, and it also humanized Eva Braun, although I do wish that she would have been explored more because she does sound interesting.
About the Author
I believe that this book will be one of my more controversial book reviews; not because of the rating, but simply because of the fact it deals with Eva Braun, yes, the wife of that German swine. I was a bit nervous beginning to read the book because I wasn't sure how that German swine would be portrayed; would he be portrayed in a way that would make me upset, or would he be portrayed in a way that is accurate? Much to mine relief, the story did not focus on him (he perhaps received 10 percent out of 100) but instead focuses greatly on Eva, Peggy, and Peggy's daughter Anna. Somehow the writing and the story sound very realistic and I can hardly tell fiction from fact. A memorable read.
This is for HFVBT
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4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)