Title: The Munich Girl
Author: Phyllis Edgerly Ring
Publisher: Whole Sky Books
Publish Date: November 14, 2015
What's the Story?:
From Goodreads.com: "Anna Dahlberg grew up eating dinner under her father’s war-trophy portrait of Eva Braun. Fifty years after the war, she discovers what he never did—that her mother and Hitler’s mistress were friends. The secret surfaces with a mysterious monogrammed handkerchief, and a man, Hannes Ritter, whose Third Reich family history is entwined with Anna’s. Plunged into the world of the “ordinary” Munich girl who was her mother’s confidante—and a tyrant’s lover—Anna finds her every belief about right and wrong challenged. With Hannes’s help, she retraces the path of two women who met as teenagers, shared a friendship that spanned the years that Eva Braun was Hitler’s mistress, yet never knew that the men they loved had opposing ambitions. Eva’s story reveals that she never joined the Nazi party, had Jewish friends, and was credited at the Nuremberg Trials with saving 35,000 Allied lives. As Anna's journey leads back through the treacherous years in wartime Germany, it uncovers long-buried secrets and unknown reaches of her heart to reveal the enduring power of love in the legacies that always outlast war."
My Two Cents:
In "The Munich Girl," Anna loses her mother in the mid-nineties and becomes keenly interested in learning more about her mother's life in Germany in World War II. Although Anna was incredibly close to her mother, she knows very little about her life in her younger years. As Anna begins to put the pieces together, she realizes that her mother knew Eva Braun (yes, that one), whose portrait hung above their table at home throughout Anna's life. Anna thought the portrait was simply war booty her father brought home and didn't know that perhaps her mother was hiding a personal connection to Hitler's infamous mistress.
Eva Braun is infamous. Even as a history lover, I did not know much about her at all besides the fact that she was Hitler's mistress. This book sheds light on the fact that at one point, she was just another German schoolgirl as Peggy, Anna's mother is in this book. The juxtaposition between who she was and who she became was absolutely fascinating. It is easy to see how the author was drawn to telling this story.
There is also the juxtaposition of Peggy and Eva's lives. They both start out as schoolgirls when they first meet. The narrative moves forward a few years per chapter so we don't get a good sense of how entangled they are or how much they really see of each other. I wish we would have gotten more of a sense of it throughout the book. Peggy goes on to have her life totally upended by the war. Because of who her lover is, Eva still lives a fairly luxurious life. She can still have strong coffee overlooking the mountains. It was so interesting to see this comparison and this really pulled me into the book.
It is clear that the author did a lot of research in order to write this book. A lot of the detail is fascinating and adds to the story. In some cases though, the narrative veers into too much telling and not enough showing, which took me out of the book both with facts as well as what characters are thinking or doing. The book definitely could have been streamlined in order to further pound the salient points of the book home.
Overall, this was an insightful historical fiction read!