I’ve always been drawn to historical fiction that takes place during World War II. Two of my favorites are The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah and Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly. I raved about Lilac Girls a few months ago; it will definitely be one of my top ten books this year. So I was so excited to get my hands on an ARC of this new novel, The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck.
I have ambivalent feelings about this book. On the one hand, it’s a rather well-written story about 3 widows who end up living together in a German castle during WWII. They’ve had extremely different experiences prior to arriving at the castle, but their lives become intertwined in very interesting ways. What I love about the book is how the characters give the reader unique perspectives about the war. It’d be a fantastic book for a book club because there’s just so much that could be discussed.
On the other hand, this book just didn’t grab hold of me like other WWII novels I have read in the past. For some reason I didn’t feel a strong emotional connection with the characters or with the story. It held my interest from beginning to end, but I didn’t feel like I was right there in the story with the characters. I wanted to be sucked into this book but it just didn’t happen for me.
Also, the story takes place in many different locations in Germany; I felt like the title was somewhat misleading because only part of the story actually takes place in the castle. From the beginning, I was a little disappointed that the book did not include a map showing all the places where the story takes place. I kept thinking that I should take some time to find a map of Germany so that I could enjoy the book more, but I read this one mostly at night right before falling asleep; I guess I was either too lazy or tired to find a map. Anyway, I was confused about all of the different locations and where they were located in relationship to each other. It definitely took away from my enjoyment of the story and my connection to it.
That said, this is a very good book that I would encourage you to read (maybe get yourself a small map first…LOL!). If you do read it, I would love to hear your thoughts about this one. Happy reading!