Well, here we are!
This is my last book review to be included in my “20 Books In 2020” reading challenge. I saw this one day while I was scrolling through KU and something about the cover just made me click it and read the blurb, and once I did that I was instantly intrigued with the concept. What if Evan Braun had had a child? This question would play with me while I was reading and after I had finished it.
If you are interested in historical fiction, especially if it is set in the depths of World War II with all of its ugly history dealing with an evil dictator like Adolf Hitler and of course with the aftermath of the Holocaust and its survivors. There are very few times that a book itself would read like if you were sitting in a movie theater watching it on the biggest screen and the volume blasted as loud as it can to pull you into it ever more.
An enthralling new tale of courage, betrayal and survival in the hardest of circumstances that readers of The Tattooist of Auschwitz, The Secret Orphan and My Name is Eva will love.
Germany, 1944. A prisoner in the camps, Anke Hoff is doing what she can to keep her pregnant campmates and their newborns alive.
But when Anke’s work is noticed, she is chosen for a task more dangerous than she could ever have imagined. Eva Braun is pregnant with the Führer’s child, and Anke is assigned as her midwife.
Before long, Anke is faced with an impossible choice. Does she serve the Reich she loathes and keep the baby alive? Or does she sacrifice an innocent child for the good of a broken world?
When I first started reading it on July 20th, my only note I put on the status update on Goodreads was “On chapter 6 and it’s already a doozy!” I am familiar with the hardships that the Jews dealt with during their time either hiding from the SS soldiers and being starved and worked to death in various camps all over Europe. While I was in high school, I took a course called “Novels” and we read Elie Weisel’s Night. This was the first time I ever read a book about a survivor’s time in the concertation camps and I literally thought I would never read a book from that time period ever again.
After reading about Enjeela and Malala’s stories escaping their war-torn homelands earlier this year, I figured I couldn’t necessarily talk myself out of not reading a book set in this time frame.
Our main character Anke Hoff, is the everyday woman in the mid-1940’s, she was young but trapped in the gray area of being a German but not supporting Adolf Hitler and The Reich. She was also helping all women–including Jewish–give birth to their children. The story is given to you in two different parts, so you begin with the character about Irena, a Jewish woman giving birth in a crowded and nasty hut full of other women, including Anke and her helper Rosa. You learn about the ins and outs of bringing a baby into the world and how Jewish babies were stripped away from their mothers and put to death for all to hear in the camp.
The second part of the story are these diary-like entries, they include dates and estimated locations. These tell the story of Anke’s life before ending up in the camps. You get to see everything that happens within a hospital before the war erupted and how she is captured by the Gestapo and eventually sent to a camp. At first, this section was my least favorite because I thought it would be too much information for the reader, including myself to separate while reading about her current living situation. However, it was in this part that talked about how the Nazi doctors and officials treated babies with physical disabilities. This is the reason why in my first note I said “it was a doozy” because I wasn’t necessarily expecting it, but while I was sad to learn what would happen to this innocent babies, it really gave me a sense of who Anke was as not only a midwife but a human being at this time.
In a way to luminate that Anke is a regular woman, the author set up a love interest, and I will be honest, I wasn’t much of a fan for it in the beginning, but when we learn more about Dieter Stenz, the quicker I was willing to overlook my initial reaction to him. As the story was ending and we learn what happens to him, my emotions were all over the place! It also didn’t help that this was the final book in my Goodreads challenge for the year. If you didn’t know by now, I finished 20 books in eight months!
The final thing I enjoyed about this story was that the author Mandy Robotham, is actually a real midwife. This made me really happy to learn this in the beginning because I knew she would include anything she has learned throughout her medical schooling and career as a midwife too. It also made me realize that everything that was discussed about childbirth inside the camps and domestic life in the 1930’s and 40’s could be true in some form despite the fact that the story is fictionalized. So, if you are interested in learning about midwifery, enjoy reading historical fiction and/or a good ‘what if’ kind of story, then you will love this book; if you decide to read it, please let me know your thoughts about it.
If you have read Mandy Robotham’s first novel “The German Midwife” or “A Woman Of War” as it was titled in the United Kingdom? What were your thoughts about Anke Hoff’s story?