Hello readers! Welcome to my stop on the Harlequin Trade Publishing Summer 2022 Historical Fiction Blog Tour for The German Wife by Kelly Rimmer! Thank you to Harlequin Trade Publishing and the author for giving me the opportunity to be a part of this tour.
Title: The German Wife
Author: Kelly Rimmer
Genre: Historical Fiction
Published: June 28th, 2022 (Graydon House)
Synopsis: The New York Times bestselling author of The Warsaw Orphan returns with a gripping novel inspired by the true story of Operation Paperclip: a controversial secret US intelligence program that employed former Nazis after WWII.
Berlin, Germany, 1930 – When the Nazis rise to power, Sofie von Meyer Rhodes and her academic husband benefit from the military ambitions of Germany’s newly elected chancellor when Jürgen is offered a high-level position in their burgeoning rocket program. Although they fiercely oppose Hitler’s radical views, and joining his ranks is unthinkable, it soon becomes clear that if Jürgen does not accept the job, their income will be taken away. Then their children. And then their lives.
Huntsville, Alabama, 1950 – Twenty years later, Jürgen is one of many German scientists pardoned and granted a position in America’s space program. For Sofie, this is a chance to leave the horrors of her past behind. But when rumors about the Rhodes family’s affiliation with the Nazi party spread among her new American neighbors, idle gossip turns to bitter rage, and the act of violence that results tears apart a family and leaves the community wondering – is it an act of vengeance or justice?
Thank you to the publisher, Harlequin Trade Publishing, Harper Collins Canada and NetGalley for providing me with an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
When Sofie von Meyer Rhodes’ husband Jurgen, a scientist, is offered a senior position in a rocket program run by the Nazi party, it initially seems to be the answer to their financial troubles. They soon realize the true motives behind the program, and though they strongly oppose the Nazi ideology, it is made very clear that Jurgen has no choice but to continue with his work or the entire family will be at risk. Fast forward towards the end of the war, when Jurgen and many other German scientists are taken to America and granted a pardon in exchange for working for their fledgeling space program. Sofie arrives with her children to join him in Alabama, hoping to leave the horrors of recent years behind for a fresh start, but the local community is less than welcoming of the German families. When rumors of what the Rhodes family was involved in during the war begin to spread, they are placed under intense scrutiny and the hostility turns into outright hatred.
Ever since I read The Warsaw Orphan last year, I’ve been waiting for Kelly Rimmer’s next book, and this was certainly a gripping and thought-provoking read. Operation Paperclip was something I was familiar with from reading about WWII and its aftermath, so it was interesting to read a book that not only featured it, but was largely narrated from the perspective of a German family directly involved in it all. I’ve only come across this type of WWII narrative once before, with Daughter of the Reich a couple of years ago, so I was quite excited for this one.
The story was narrated over two timelines, one during the war and one after, but it was also from the perspective of two women in vastly different circumstances. Sofie Rhodes and her family are placed in the terrible position of having to choose between the safety of their young family and going along with the demands of the Nazis and their policies even though they are fiercely against it. This arc was marvellously written and as a reader, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for them as they were forced to go against their own morals and play the role of an ideal family in Nazi Germany, even if it meant having to turn away and cut ties to people closest to them. While they may not be directly involved in any of the atrocities, they didn’t do anything to stop it either and the guilt haunts them long after the war.
The other arc follows Lizzie, whose husband is Jurgen’s boss at the rocket program. She is the sister of a WWII veteran and her brother came back from the war a different person. Having already lost her parents during the Dust Bowl, she considers all Germans criminals and hates the idea of having them in the neighborhood. Personally, I didn’t like her arc much. While I do see her angle that the German scientist got away with war crimes just because their skills were needed, her view that all Germans must be Nazis was quite extreme. She came off as very self righteous with her hatred for the new families, having no idea what they may have gone through, but judging all of them without ever having experienced anything like it. Lizzie’s chapters started off as an interesting look at the war from another angle, but eventually turned into the most irritating parts of the book for me. Her feelings were justified, but she refused to see things from another perspective along with being willfully blind to her brother’s condition and actions, and just reading the same thing chapter after chapter was annoying.
The German Wife was a fast-paced and well written book and so much research must have gone into this. I thought the ending was nicely done, and the author’s note after is one not to be missed. She raises some very interesting questions about accountability and what other options Sofie and Jurgen might have taken that should be reflected upon after reading this book. I would highly recommend this book, not only for fans of the genre, but for all readers!
The German Wife releases June 28th, 2022.
About the Author
Kelly Rimmer is the worldwide, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Before I Let You Go, The Things We Cannot Say, and Truths I Never Told You. She lives in rural Australia with her husband, two children and fantastically naughty dogs, Sully and Basil. Her novels have been translated into more than twenty languages. Please visit her at https://www.kellyrimmer.com/
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