This review, originally appeared in Critics at Large, is reproduced on this site since a central theme of this novel is to what extent can people across that line of darkness and still retain their humanity.
|Author Jessica Shattuck. (Photo: Grace Kwon)
Two pivotal scenes, spanning over sixty years, remain in the mind long after reading Jessica Shattuck’s character-driven, historically-informed (with excellent sources acknowledged at the back), and emotionally moving Women in the Castle (William Morrow/Harper Collins, 2017). The first occurs in the prologue set in 1938 Germany, on the cusp of Kristallnacht, in a Bavarian castle during the von Lingenfels’ annual family party. Although some of the guests sport Nazi insignias, a number of others are assembled in the study of the host, Albrecht, plotting active resistance to Hitler’s zealotry – fearing that if things go wrong, their families will suffer. His wife, Marianne, interrupts and fully cognizant of Hitler’s madness and thuggery, challenges them to take action. When her charismatic childhood friend, Connie Fledermann, appoints her the “commander of wives and children,” she accepts.