Wednesday, February 05, 2020

The German Heiress - Anika Scott

There is such a glut of World War II fiction on the market these days that it’s becoming hard to distinguish one book from another. Even their covers are so similar that they all begin to blend together in the mind of anyone who has read more than one or two of them. Anika Scott’s The German Heiress, though, has just enough of a plot twist to make it stand out some from the crowd.

Oh, don’t get me wrong. There’s a lot of the usual living-in-the-shadows -while-trying-to-avoid-the-authorities kind of stuff going on here. But in The German Heiress, it’s not an allied soldier or a persecuted Jew trying to escape or avoid capture by the Nazis. Instead, in this one World War II is over, and the German woman who ran her family’s ironworks during the war’s last months is trying desperately to stay clear of the British troops who have occupied her region of a defeated Germany for the past two years. The search for German war criminals is on, and Clara Falkenberg’s father has already been arrested and imprisoned to await his trial for exploiting the slave labor supplied to him by the Nazis. As her father’s successor, Clara is suspected of having committed the same crimes, and one British officer is determined to bring her to justice.

Anika Scott
Now, after having run out of places to hide, Clara decides to return to Essen, her home, figuring that she will be more effectively able to hide from the officer there. What she does not expect is to find a city so destroyed by Allied bombing that she will barely recognize it – or that she will be pulled off the train and arrested long before she even gets to Essen. And it is only after a narrow escape from her interrogators that Clara manages to make her way to the city of her birth, a place where her face is so well known that everyone she encounters on the streets is a potential informer. But in Essen she hopes to find the only person she still trusts, her best friend Elisa. Instead, she meets Jacob, a black marketeer who has his own reasons for helping Clara survive the harsh winter conditions they face long enough for her to learn the truth about her family - maybe even long enough for her to clear her name or strike a deal with the British that will keep her out of prison.

Bottom Line: This is a reminder that not everything about German behavior during World War II was black and white, that some people were dangerously caught in a clash between Nazi authorities and their own beliefs. The most dangerous position Germans could find themselves in were those in which they had to appear to be cooperating with the Nazis while, at the same time, doing whatever they could to save as many innocent lives as possible. Clara Falkenberg was one of those people, but while The German Heiress does address this question, it is still more of a thriller than anything else, including at least one character that is not particularly believable as written. Considering the book’s basic premise, this one should have been better than it is.

Advance Reader's Edition provided by William Morrow - Publication Date is 4/20/2020

8 comments:

  1. There is a lot of historical fiction set during WWII out right now, isn't there? I guess there's still a lot of stories from that time period left to tell.

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    1. Personally, I don't know if I want to read much more of it right now - but I just found out that another WWII fiction ARC is in the mail. LOL

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    2. Is that what they call bookish karma? ;D

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  2. It sounds good enough for me to keep an eye out for it as I haven't read anything with this precise kind of point of view. The book I've just read is much more common with bits of it from a British and American pov, taking place in the SW of England from 1943 to D Day (the rest is modern day). I'll see if the library has your book at some stage.

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    1. It's an interesting point of view, for sure, but in the end it turns into more of a thriller than anything else. The number of cliffhangers that she escapes becomes kind of unbelievable after a while. But, all in all, not a bad book, especially if you enjoy the occasional thriller like I do.

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  3. Not quite sure what else Clara could have done to help others - given her own life situation during and after the war. This just didn't seem real to me, and seemed fabricated by the author so there would be a book.

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    1. Like you, I never got the sense that Clara was really going to have anything terrible happen to her. In retrospect, it all seems a bit contrived, but then so do most thrillers, I think.

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