Welcome to the first Stellar Review of 2016, the place where you will find honest reviews of indie artists’ and authors’ offspring. This month I am introducing you to Phyllis Ring and her third novel The Munich Girl.
Historical fiction is not usually the first genre I gravitate towards in a book shop, I’m afraid I’ve been horribly scarred by a Mills & Boon novella involving ridiculously heroic Knights and drippy heroines. I’m happy to report that The Munich Girl is nothing like that. It is captivating.
The story centres on Anna, an English/German living in America, who follows a trail of breadcrumbs to discover her mother cherished a secret friendship with Eva Braun. This sets off a chain reaction of events that see both Anna and the delightfully correct Hannes embarks on a voyage of mystery and self discovery spanning two continents and two generations.
The author uses a book within a book format to tell a story that Anna’s now deceased mother is unable to share personally. At the same time as revealing her backstory, parallels are drawn between the hidden, lonely and often sad life of Eva Braun and Anna’s own downtrodden and almost subservient existence alongside her husband Lowell.
This is an often repeated World War 2 story of survival despite adversity but told from the fresh perspective of German women at opposing ends of the warring spectrum, without either of them knowing it.
You will love to read about the ordinary friendship of the two Munich girls, their lives away from the cocoon of their friendship and how their love for each other resonates across the ocean and ages. You will enjoy the way you view history in a new light, the book can’t help but mention Hitler, however, he is a minor character in this study, a mere symptom of Eva’s melancholy, and this somehow encourages you to drag out your history books, draw a deep breath and bravely reread the historical events once read through your fingers with disgust.
All praise aside, there were a few things that niggled at me. I couldn’t help but feel Anna had been betrayed or made a fool of when I put the book down. It’s difficult to clarify this without spoilers but let’s just say I wouldn’t have been so calm in the face of such revelations and discoveries near the end. Her reaction and the reasons for ‘non-disclosure’ were explained by the author but I wasn’t satisfied. Perhaps I have an innate need for blood that wasn’t sated on this occasion but you may have a completely different view upon reading it. I also struggled with the small sections of text that were in German but not translated. Most of the time the meaning of these were clear from the context, however, sometimes they weren’t and this pulled me from the story while I Googled what they meant.
None of the above detract from what is a beautiful story of enduring friendship and the lengths people will go to for love. I have already started to reread the book, just in case I missed something the first time. It’s not often that a book resonates with me to such a degree as this one has.
I hope you enjoyed this month’s edition of the Stellar Review. If you would like to be my next victim, please get in touch and send copies of your book, stories or music to be reviewed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Until next month,