The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck
A Novel

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Although the opening of the book proves slow to get into, Shattuck’s writing and delivery quickly bring the reader into the characters and the problems each faces as they cope with the end of the war and the direction their lives are taking.
-NY Journal of Books

Synopsis

INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

"Moving . . . surprises and devastates."—New York Times Book Review

"A masterful epic."—People magazine

"Mesmerizing . . . The Women in the Castle stands tall among the literature that reveals new truths about one of history’s most tragic eras."—USA Today

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.

 

About Jessica Shattuck

See more books from this Author
Jessica Shattuck is the author of The Hazards of Good Breeding (a New York Times Notable Book and a Winship/PEN Award finalist) and Perfect Life. Her writing has appeared in The New Yorker, The Believer, Wired, Mother Jones, and Glamour, among other publications. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
 
Published March 28, 2017 by William Morrow. 368 pages
Genres: History, War, Literature & Fiction, Romance. Fiction
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Critic reviews for The Women in the Castle
All: 3 | Positive: 3 | Negative: 0

Kirkus

Above average
on Dec 27 2016

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.

Read Full Review of The Women in the Castle: A Novel | See more reviews from Kirkus

Publishers Weekly

Good
on Feb 24 2017

Shattuck’s own German heritage and knack for historical details adds to the realism of the tale. A beautiful story of survival, love, and forgiveness.

Read Full Review of The Women in the Castle: A Novel | See more reviews from Publishers Weekly

NY Journal of Books

Good
Reviewed by Judith Reveal on Apr 03 2017

Although the opening of the book proves slow to get into, Shattuck’s writing and delivery quickly bring the reader into the characters and the problems each faces as they cope with the end of the war and the direction their lives are taking.

Read Full Review of The Women in the Castle: A Novel | See more reviews from NY Journal of Books

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78%

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