Title: The German House
Author: Annette Hess
Genre: Historical Fiction
Published On: December 3, 2019
Synopsis: Set against the Frankfurt Auschwitz Trials of 1963, Annette Hess’s international bestseller is a harrowing yet ultimately uplifting coming-of-age story about a young female translator—caught between societal and familial expectations and her unique ability to speak truth to power—as she fights to expose the dark truths of her nation’s past.
If everything your family told you was a lie, how far would you go to uncover the truth?
For twenty-four-year-old Eva Bruhns, World War II is a foggy childhood memory. At the war’s end, Frankfurt was a smoldering ruin, severely damaged by the Allied bombings. But that was two decades ago. Now it is 1963, and the city’s streets, once cratered are smooth and paved. Shiny new stores replace scorched rubble. Eager for her wealthy suitor, Jürgen Schoormann, to propose, Eva dreams of starting a new life away from her parents and sister. But Eva’s plans are turned upside down when a fiery investigator, David Miller, hires her as a translator for a war crimes trial.
As she becomes more deeply involved in the Frankfurt Trials, Eva begins to question her family’s silence on the war and her future. Why do her parents refuse to talk about what happened? What are they hiding? Does she really love Jürgen and will she be happy as a housewife? Though it means going against the wishes of her family and her lover, Eva, propelled by her own conscience, joins a team of fiery prosecutors determined to bring the Nazis to justice—a decision that will help change the present and the past of her nation.
(I was provided an advance copy from the publisher, HarperVia, through Netgalley.)
World War II novels are typically set during the war, so I was intrigued when I came across The German House which is set about twenty years after the war in Germany. The focus of the book is the 1963 Auschwitz Trials in Frankfurt. Eva begins to translate for the trial and quickly becomes torn between her family, the expectations society has placed on her, and the ever increasing guilt she has for her nation’s actions.
I quickly became immersed in this novel, set on the verge of a changing era. Eva feels torn between the life she loves with her family and the life–with all its new and exciting possibilities–that she is drawn to beyond the safety of her home. This is a character driven novel, and they are flawed characters, which I always appreciate. They don’t necessarily make the choices I would want them to make, but they reflect the realities of life.
It took me much longer to read this novel than it should have, but only because life got in the way. I was eager to pick it up and would have preferred to read it in a few longer spells than short spurts because it is so very immersive.
Witnessing the trial through Eva’s eyes was daunting and emotional, but a reminder that even through the worst, most unimaginable atrocities, the human spirit prevails.
Rating: (4.5 / 5)
Have you read The German House yet? Do you enjoy historical fiction? Let me know in the comments!