Wednesday, May 22, 2019
Published May 2019 by William Morrow
Source: my copy courtesy of the publisher and TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review
After Wisconsin graduate student Mildred Fish marries brilliant German economist Arvid Harnack, she accompanies him to his German homeland, where a promising future awaits. In the thriving intellectual culture of 1930s Berlin, the newlyweds create a rich new life filled with love, friendships, and rewarding work—but the rise of a malevolent new political faction inexorably changes their fate.
As Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party wield violence and lies to seize power, Mildred, Arvid, and their friends resolve to resist. Mildred gathers intelligence for her American contacts, including Martha Dodd, the vivacious and very modern daughter of the US ambassador. Her German friends, aspiring author Greta Kuckoff and literature student Sara Weitz, risk their lives to collect information from journalists, military officers, and officials within the highest levels of the Nazi regime.
For years, Mildred’s network stealthily fights to bring down the Third Reich from within. But when Nazi radio operatives detect an errant Russian signal, the Harnack resistance cell is exposed, with fatal consequences.
Inspired by actual events, Resistance Women is an enthralling, unforgettable story of ordinary people determined to resist the rise of evil, sacrificing their own lives and liberty to fight injustice and defend the oppressed.
Mildred Fish Harnack? She was a real person, an American living in German with her German husband as Adolf Hitler rose to power. An American who was so upset by what she saw happening that she decided to do something to help those at greatest risk. Greta Kuckoff? Also a real person. As was Martha Dodd (I talked about Martha when I reviewed Erik Larson's In The Garden of Beasts, the story of William Dodd's time as the American ambassador to Germany).
I'm always impressed when an author can weave together the lives of real people and a fictional narrative and Chiaverini is terrific at it. Her books never feel like she's tried to get everything she learned about a subject into a book and the fictional characters always blend so well with the real people she's included. You've heard me say many times that I'm sort of over reading books about World War II. But I keep going back to them because there continue to be new stories to tell. Here, Chiaverini looks at the rise of the Nazis through the eyes of several regular citizens of various backgrounds. In particular, through her characters, she explores the way the citizens of Germany fell under the sway of Hitler and the Nazi party. Chiaverini very much seems to be using this book, too, as a way to make people take a look at what is happening in our country these days. As a cautionary tale, it's scary as hell.
The book is very detailed as Chiaverini follows these women through about ten years, some times too detailed. At almost 600 pages, I did feel that the book could have been trimmed down some without losing any of the details that made us care about these women or any of the history that was so important to the story. It still would have been a frightening book, still a terribly sad book, still a book that tells important stories.
the full tour.
Jennifer Chiaverini is the New York Times bestselling author of several acclaimed historical novels and the beloved Elm Creek Quilts series. A graduate of the University of Notre Dame and the University of Chicago, she lives with her husband and two sons in Madison, Wisconsin.
Find out more about Jennifer at her website, and connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
If you're interested in owning a copy of this book. find it at HarperCollins.