A riveting, complex tale of the courage of ordinary people.

RESISTANCE WOMEN

From the end days of the Weimar Republic through the rise of Hitler and the atrocities of World War II, four women boldly defy the Nazis, risking their own lives and those of their loved ones.

Chiaverini’s (Enchantress of Numbers, 2017, etc.) latest historical novel masterfully reimagines the real lives of Mildred Fish Harnack, an American who moves to Berlin to pursue her doctoral degree in American Literature and reunite with her German husband, Arvid; Greta Lorke, a German woman returning from studying abroad at the University of Wisconsin, hoping to make her mark as a writer in the theater world; and Martha Dodd, the politically naïve daughter of the newly appointed American Ambassador to Germany. Linking these women together with the fictional character of Sara Weitz, a Jewish student of American literature, Chiaverini spins a fascinating web of relationships. As the Nazis place increasingly severe restrictions on non-Aryans, Arvid’s cousin Dietrich Bonhoeffer is surveilled for speaking out against the regime, and Mildred finds employment difficult to get, while the jobs that do exist require loyalty oaths to the Nazi Party. Meanwhile, Greta has found love with Adam Kuckhoff, an influential dramaturge with a complicated marital status, and Martha recklessly toys with the affections of both high-ranking Nazi and Soviet officials. The second daughter in the Weitz family to choose a gentile fiance, Sara discovers the anti-Semitism lurking in the hearts of complacent Germans, forcing her to rethink her marriage plans. All four women and their partners find themselves drawn into an underground espionage network—later dubbed the Rote Kapelle by the Nazis—gathering intelligence and connecting with communist cells seeking to destroy the Third Reich. But a single, careless radio transmission could cast everyone into the clutches of the enemy.

A riveting, complex tale of the courage of ordinary people.

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-284110-0

Page Count: 608

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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Still, a respectful and absorbing page-turner.

THE NIGHTINGALE

Hannah’s new novel is an homage to the extraordinary courage and endurance of Frenchwomen during World War II.

In 1995, an elderly unnamed widow is moving into an Oregon nursing home on the urging of her controlling son, Julien, a surgeon. This trajectory is interrupted when she receives an invitation to return to France to attend a ceremony honoring passeurs: people who aided the escape of others during the war. Cut to spring, 1940: Viann has said goodbye to husband Antoine, who's off to hold the Maginot line against invading Germans. She returns to tending her small farm, Le Jardin, in the Loire Valley, teaching at the local school and coping with daughter Sophie’s adolescent rebellion. Soon, that world is upended: The Germans march into Paris and refugees flee south, overrunning Viann’s land. Her long-estranged younger sister, Isabelle, who has been kicked out of multiple convent schools, is sent to Le Jardin by Julien, their father in Paris, a drunken, decidedly unpaternal Great War veteran. As the depredations increase in the occupied zone—food rationing, systematic looting, and the billeting of a German officer, Capt. Beck, at Le Jardin—Isabelle’s outspokenness is a liability. She joins the Resistance, volunteering for dangerous duty: shepherding downed Allied airmen across the Pyrenees to Spain. Code-named the Nightingale, Isabelle will rescue many before she's captured. Meanwhile, Viann’s journey from passive to active resistance is less dramatic but no less wrenching. Hannah vividly demonstrates how the Nazis, through starvation, intimidation and barbarity both casual and calculated, demoralized the French, engineering a community collapse that enabled the deportations and deaths of more than 70,000 Jews. Hannah’s proven storytelling skills are ideally suited to depicting such cataclysmic events, but her tendency to sentimentalize undermines the gravitas of this tale.

Still, a respectful and absorbing page-turner.

Pub Date: Feb. 3, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-312-57722-3

Page Count: 448

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 20, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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Miller makes Homer pertinent to women facing 21st-century monsters.

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CIRCE

A retelling of ancient Greek lore gives exhilarating voice to a witch.

“Monsters are a boon for gods. Imagine all the prayers.” So says Circe, a sly, petulant, and finally commanding voice that narrates the entirety of Miller’s dazzling second novel. The writer returns to Homer, the wellspring that led her to an Orange Prize for The Song of Achilles (2012). This time, she dips into The Odyssey for the legend of Circe, a nymph who turns Odysseus’ crew of men into pigs. The novel, with its distinctive feminist tang, starts with the sentence: “When I was born, the name for what I was did not exist.” Readers will relish following the puzzle of this unpromising daughter of the sun god Helios and his wife, Perse, who had negligible use for their child. It takes banishment to the island Aeaea for Circe to sense her calling as a sorceress: “I will not be like a bird bred in a cage, I thought, too dull to fly even when the door stands open. I stepped into those woods and my life began.” This lonely, scorned figure learns herbs and potions, surrounds herself with lions, and, in a heart-stopping chapter, outwits the monster Scylla to propel Daedalus and his boat to safety. She makes lovers of Hermes and then two mortal men. She midwifes the birth of the Minotaur on Crete and performs her own C-section. And as she grows in power, she muses that “not even Odysseus could talk his way past [her] witchcraft. He had talked his way past the witch instead.” Circe’s fascination with mortals becomes the book’s marrow and delivers its thrilling ending. All the while, the supernatural sits intriguingly alongside “the tonic of ordinary things.” A few passages coil toward melodrama, and one inelegant line after a rape seems jarringly modern, but the spell holds fast. Expect Miller’s readership to mushroom like one of Circe’s spells.

Miller makes Homer pertinent to women facing 21st-century monsters.

Pub Date: April 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-55634-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2018

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