Gisela is an American living with a cousin in eastern Germany when the Russians invade. They must escape west to Berlin and Gisela's mother forsafety. While her cousin refuses to leave, she does ask Gisela to take her two daughters along. During the harrowing journey, Gisela meets Mitch, an escaped British POW whose accented German is bound to get him in trouble. Thinking fast, Gisela says Mitch in her husband. That works for a while until a wounded German soldier begins to have suspicions about the supposed marriage relationship.
The journey to Berlin is full of danger and hardship. The longer Gisela and Mitch are together, the more their feelings for each other grow. And when they reach Berlin, will her mother still be alive? Will they be safe or will the invading Russians take Berlin and mistreat the inhabitants as they have in other cities?
Tolsma has written a very realistic novel about the near end of the war in Germany. It is not pretty. There is horror, tragedy, and death. There are mentions of hangings and sexual assault. Gisela and Mitch spend time in Berlin as it is being bombed by the Allies and invaded by the Russians. There are many heart wrenching and descriptively realistic scenes.
The first half of this novel is based on the actual experiences of one of Tolsma's aunts. She and her companions did cross the frozen Fische Haff and were shot at by Russian planes. The second half of the novel is based on the experiences of another aunt. She had been born in America to parents of German descent. The family returned to Germany in the late 1930s and did spend the last part of the war in Berlin, surviving the bombings and Russian soldiers bent on rape.
This is a good historical novel to read as our memory of WW II is fading. Be prepared for the realities of war – they are not pretty. There is a good romance involved and that somehow makes it a bit easier to take.
I am taking part in a blog tour of this book and you can read other reviews here.
Liz Tolsma is the “New York Times” best-selling author of “Daisies are Forever,” “Snow on the Tulips,” and the contributing author of “A Log Cabin Christmas.” When not busy putting words to paper, Liz enjoys reading, walking, working in her large perennial garden, kayaking, and camping. She lives in Wisconsin with her husband and children, all adopted internationally. http://www.liztolsma.com.
Thomas Nelson Publishers, 352 pages.
I received a complimentary egalley of this book through Litfuse for the purpose of an independent and honest review.