Book Review: The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck

I recently finished reading The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck. Read on to find out a little more about the book, my thoughts, and whether or not I would recommend it.

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Book review of The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck | kathleenhelen

The Women in the Castle

The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck tells of the thought-provoking and emotional story of three distinct German widows living in the aftermath of the Second World War. The novel moves between events that occurred during WWII and those that follow the war, slowly showing readers a complete picture of the lives of these women.

Marianne von Lingenfels is the widow of a resister who plotted to assassinate Hitler. Because she is a wealthy aristocrat who was assumed to know nothing about her husband’s actions, she is allowed to continue life relatively undisruptive. At the end of the war, Marianne, with her children, move to the now decrepit and falling apart castle that previously belonged to her husband’s family. She vows to find and protect the wives and children of the other resisters involved in her husband’s plot.

Marianne first finds Martin, the son of her childhood best friend, then Martin’s mother, Benita. Ania and her two sons, Anselm and Wolfgang, soon join them and the three women, and their children, begin to readjust to post-war life and all that that brings.

Marianne, Benita, and Ania are three women who come from three completely different backgrounds, each with an entirely different experience of the war. Marianne comes from a very privileged past where things seem very black and white – but as time goes on and she gets to know these other women better, she must learn that life is messy and there isn’t always a simple choice to be made.

Book review of The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck | kathleenhelen

My Thoughts on The Women in the Castle

In The Women in the Castle, Shattuck shares a unique story by providing the reader with a perspective not usually seen in WWII historical fiction. I’ve read historical fiction covering the story from a number of different viewpoints (most recently in this novel), but I don’t recall ever reading one quite like this. The novel really focuses on how these women deal with the aftermath of the war, and although they are all happy to see Hitler go, Germany was not exactly a prosperous or peaceful country in the late 1940s. Through vivid detail, Shattuck brings the three women to life in a uniquely told story.

This novel really made me pause to think about the lives of German civilians throughout WWII and how slightly different experiences of the same event can affect the way in which the world is viewed so much. It was a compelling and thought-provoking story that I would recommend to all, especially fans of WWII historical fiction.

I gave The Women in the Castle 5 out of 5 stars on Goodreads.

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