Author: C.F. Yetmen
Publisher: Ypsilon &Co. Press
Part of a Series: Anna Klein Trilogy
Type of book: Post WWII Germany, 1945, Monuments Men, paintings, art, families, mother/daughter relationships, translation, filing, scarcity, mystery, Lebensborn, Hitler's museum, complicity
Year it was published: 2014
It is August 1945 in Wiesbaden, Germany. With the country in ruins, Anna Klein, displaced and separated from her beloved husband, struggles to support herself and her six-year old daughter Amalia. Her job typing forms at the Collecting Point for the US Army’s Monuments Men is the only thing keeping her afloat. Charged with securing Nazi-looted art and rebuilding Germany’s monuments, the Americans are on the hunt for stolen treasures. But after the horrors of the war, Anna wants only to hide from the truth and rebuild a life with her family. When the easy-going American Captain Henry Cooper recruits her as his reluctant translator, the two of them stumble on a mysterious stash of art in a villa outside of town. Cooper’s penchant for breaking the rules capsizes Anna’s tenuous security and propels her into a search for elusive truth and justice in a world where everyone is hiding something.
In her debut novel C.F. Yetmen tells a story of loss and reconciliation in a shattered world coming to terms with war and its aftermath.
Main characters include Anna Klein, a young German woman who has a husband who is staying in East Berlin and has a young daughter. Anna Klein is resourceful, very detailed and intelligent as well as determined to do what she can no matter the cost. But at the same time she is very worried about what people might think and is very conscious of how she looks and appears although she has a big heart. Amalia is Anna's young daughter who has known nothing war but despite it she is cheerful, plucky and very friendly. Captain Cooper is an American working for Monuments Men and is best described as someone is carefree and believes that he is above authority and likes to bend rules. Other characters also include a young boy named Oskar who knows more than he lets on as well as the brother and sister duo who are keeping their own secrets about their lives and so forth.
Do the right thing, even if its difficult
Pretty much all the story is in third person from Anna Klein's point of view. Instead of choosing to disseminate through Holocaust or its aftermath, the author makes a choice to talk about Monuments Men and also chooses to focus on the infamous Lebensborn program. (I have heard of it, but was not familiar with the details of it...) I also loved the importance of family and friends in the story and also liked how families are formed rather than chosen. The characters are drawn with realistically and with flaws, both physical and mental (for example Anna mentions that because of lack of vitamins her teeth are loose.)
(From the book)
C.F. Yetmen is a writer and consultant specializing in architecture and design. She is the co-author of The Owner's Dilemman Driving Success and Innovation in the Design and Construction Industry and a former publisher of Texas Architect magazine. The Roses Underneath is her first novel. Visit cfyetmen.com
I'm only sorry that I hadn't reviewed the book earlier. I found it to be an unexpectedly good read because to be honest from the last name I was expecting a Jewish female character, but in fact it turned out to be a German woman, and unlike most of WWII novels, this one focuses on the aftermath of WWII and how it affects the ordinary people who don't have money to back upon. In other words, this is about ordinary people, not ones who are high. I found a lot of things enjoyable about the book such as the characters, the details and time period as well as place which puts a different spin on post WWII world, the fact that characters are realistic and relatable to the time period and I also liked in learning little known fact about the Monument Men and their mission. The story hints at Holocaust as well as Russian occupation of East Berlin, but it doesn't go into the details, although if I recall right, the second book of the trilogy does go into great detail.
This was given to me for an honest review
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.)