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“Moving… a plot that
surprises and devastates”
Winner of The New England Book Award 2017
New York Times and International Bestseller
Being translated into 17 languages
Three women, haunted by the past and the secrets they hold…
Set at the end of World War II, in a crumbling Bavarian castle that once played host to all of German high society, a powerful and propulsive story of three widows whose lives and fates become intertwined—an affecting, shocking, and ultimately redemptive novel from the author of the New York Times Notable Book The Hazards of Good Breeding.
Amid the ashes of Nazi Germany’s defeat, Marianne von Lingenfels returns to the once-grand castle of her husband’s ancestors, an imposing stone fortress now fallen into ruin following years of war. The widow of a resister murdered in the failed July 20, 1944, plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler, Marianne plans to uphold the promise she made to her husband’s brave conspirators: to find and protect their wives, her fellow resistance widows.
First Marianne rescues six-year-old Martin, the son of her dearest childhood friend, from a Nazi reeducation home. Together, they make their way across the smoldering wreckage of their homeland to Berlin, where Martin’s mother, the beautiful and naive Benita, has fallen into the hands of occupying Red Army soldiers. Then she locates Ania, another resister’s wife, and her two boys, now refugees languishing in one of the many camps that house the millions displaced by the war.
As Marianne assembles this makeshift family from the ruins of her husband’s resistance movement, she is certain their shared pain and circumstances will hold them together. But she quickly discovers that the black-and-white, highly principled world of her privileged past has become infinitely more complicated, filled with secrets and dark passions that threaten to tear them apart. Eventually, all three women must come to terms with the choices that have defined their lives before, during, and after the war—each with their own unique share of challenges.
Written with the devastating emotional power of The Nightingale, Sarah’s Key, and The Light Between Oceans, Jessica Shattuck’s evocative and utterly enthralling novel offers a fresh perspective on one of the most tumultuous periods in history. Combining piercing social insight and vivid historical atmosphere, The Women in the Castle is a dramatic yet nuanced portrait of war and its repercussions that explores what it means to survive, love, and, ultimately, to forgive in the wake of unimaginable hardship.
“Moving… This is definitely not a story of plucky women banding together to fix up a chilly home.[Shattuck’s] achievement – beyond unfolding a plot that surprises and devastates – is in her subtle exploration of what a moral righteousness… looks like in the aftermath of the war, when communities and lives must be rebuilt, together.”
“Even as “The Women in the Castle” chronicles the guilt, shame and denial, Shattuck also credibly traces how the descent into madness could have happened, hardening good people one fatal misstep at a time.”
“Offers a mesmerizing new look at the aftermath of the war . . . with insight and empathy, The Women in the Castle stands tall among the literature that reveals new truths about one of history’s most tragic eras.”
“A virtuoso of time and place, Jessica Shattuck has created a heart-smashingly good novel, an important story that will change the way you look at current events, how you regard your neighbors. It will leave you asking, “What would I do if I were in these characters shoes? Would my conscience pass the test?” Powerful and prescient, an important book everyone should read.”
“A poignant WWII page-turner.”
“If you love historical fiction, this is your must-read book: It’s captivating, fascinating, and incredibly faithful to the events as they happened, and Jessica Shattuck reveals an entirely new side of what it’s like to be a woman in wartime.”
“If you’re a historical fiction fan, this will be your new favorite novel of 2017. Set in the stunning, castle-lined backdrop of the Bavarian countryside, The Women in the Castle explores the lives of three women as they discover what it means to survive, forgive, and ultimately love again in the cold ashes of war. It’s so emotionally powerful there’s a chance the literary-induced chills will stay with you well into summer.”
“…a wonderfully rich story of the strength of the soul and terrors of war.”
“Riveting and emotional, The Women in the Castle is a WWII story like you’ve never seen before.”
“For your friend who loves a good war drama. About a woman who plays castle with other war widows across Germany post WWII.”
Fans of The Nightingale and other classic World War II stories will fall in love with this compelling new perspective on women at war.”
“The Women in the Castle is a vivid and gripping tale of endurance in the wake of World War II … The writing is magnificent, as is Shattuck’s ability to render unimaginable circumstances with tremendous clarity and compassion. A joy to read, this is a beautiful and important book.”
“Shattuck’s latest has an intricately woven narrative with frequent plot twists that will shock and please. The quotidian focus of the story, falling on the period just after the war, provides a unique glimpse into what the average German was and was not aware of during World War II’s darkest months. Shattuck’s own German heritage and knack of historical details add to the realism of the tale. A beautiful story of survival, love, and forgiveness.”
A rich, potent, fluently written tale of endurance and survival.”
“In this primer about how evil invades then corrupts normal existence, Shattuck delivers simple, stark lessons on personal responsibility and morality… Neither romantic nor heroic, Shattuck’s new novel seems atypical of current World War II fiction but makes sincere, evocative use of family history to explore complicity and the long arc of individual responses to a mass crime.”
“Stunning . . . The Women in the Castle pleads the case for humanity as both dreadful and beautiful . . . with insights both large and small, [it] does the elegant work of exploring how three wounded women find answers.”
“The Women in the Castle is haunting, a beautifully written and painfully vivid glimpse into one of the most horrific times in world history.”
“Well-researched . . . Shattuck manages to be both morally tough-minded and remarkably empathetic.”
“The Women in the Castle is a vivid, beautifully written novel about the sacrifices and consequences of war and the brave survival of those left behind. With extraordinary skill and knowledge and insight, Jessica Shattuck transports us to Germany in the aftermath of world war II and into the lives of three powerfully drawn and memorable women. Compelling and very satisfying.”
“Shattuck explores the big questions of good and evil, right and wrong, along with love and loyalty.”
“Compelling … heart wrenching but hopeful. I couldn’t put it down.”
“Compelling … heart wrenching but hopeful. I couldn’t put it down.”