Thank you to Sarah Harwood of http://www.harwoodpr.com for a copy of this book, being published today by Windmill Books, part of Penguin Random House.
For readers of The Alice Network and The Lost Girls of Paris, an immersive, heart-pounding debut about a German heiress on the run in post-World War II Germany.
Clara Falkenberg, once Germany’s most eligible and lauded heiress, earned the nickname “the Iron Fräulein” during World War II for her role operating her family’s ironworks empire. It’s been nearly two years since the war ended and she’s left with nothing but a false identification card and a series of burning questions about her family’s past. With nowhere else to run to, she decides to return home and take refuge with her dear friend, Elisa.
Narrowly escaping a near-disastrous interrogation by a British officer who’s hell-bent on arresting her for war crimes, she arrives home to discover the city in ruins, and Elisa missing. As Clara begins tracking down Elisa, she encounters Jakob, a charismatic young man working on the black market, who, for his own reasons, is also searching for Elisa. Clara and Jakob soon discover how they might help each other—if only they can stay ahead of the officer determined to make Clara answer for her actions during the war.
Propulsive, meticulously researched, and action-fueled, The German Heiress is a mesmerizing page-turner that questions the meaning of justice and morality, deftly shining the spotlight on the often-overlooked perspective of Germans who were caught in the crossfire of the Nazi regime and had nowhere to turn.
Regular readers of my blog will know that I regularly read historical fiction books set around the first and second world wars. However this is the first I’ve read set in Germany after the second world war.
This was a book I didn’t want to put down, once I started it. Clara is on the run from her past, having been in hiding since the Allies were advancing towards Essen. However now she is heading back home, to find out what happened to what was left of her family and her best friend Elisa.
Essen in December 1946 was a cold and bleak place, with very little food and many damaged buildings. We find out more about Clara’s life before and during the war, her friendships and what she tried to do during the war. We also meet Jakob, left disabled after being at the Russian front. Jakob tries to help Clara but who will he put first when the British Army turn up, his sisters or his new acquaintance?
Without giving any spoilers, I enjoyed the story and found it thought provoking. What would any of us done if we had been made to work as per the Nazi party instructions or face being killed ourselves? After what happened during the war, how would the Allied troops treat the German people?
I’m happy to recommend this book to fans of historical fiction. This is an impressive debut novel and I look forward to reading more by Anika Scott in the future.
Anika Scott lives with her husband and two daughters in Essen, Germany, where her debut novel is set. She grew up in Michigan, USA and has degrees in International Politics and Journalism. She began her career wanting to be a CIA agent and had security clearance from an internship at the State Department in Washington, but CIA applications included never being able to write stories or keep a diary. Anika loves stories too much for that, and so became a journalist instead. She was staff on the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Chicago Tribune before becoming a freelance journalist in Germany: her work has appeared widely in the US and European media. She runs an online resource about post-war German history at http://www.postwargermany.com