Book Review: The Munich Girl by Phyllis E. Ring
Genre: Historical Fiction
Book Description (Cover Blurb): Anna Dahlberg grew up eating dinner under her father’s war-trophy portrait of Eva Braun. Fifty years after the war, she discovers what he never did–that her mother and Hitler’s mistress were friends. The secret surfaces with a mysterious monogrammed handkerchief, and a man, Hannes Ritter, whose Third Reich family history is entwined with Anna’s. Plunged into the world of the Munich girl who became her mother’s confidante–and a tyrant’s lover–Anna retraces the friendship forged by two lonely women in Nazi Germany, even though the men they loved had opposing ambitions. Anna’s journey will uncover long-buried secrets and unknown reaches of her heart to reveal the enduring power of love in the legacies that outlast war.
The Munich Girl was an unexpected blend of mystery and the more personal jaunt literary stories tend to take. There were so many things I liked about this book, I’m a little bit at a loss for where to begin… I guess, to start off right at the beginning, there’s the fact that it’s a clever blend of historical fiction and modern-day sleuthing/research. If you’ve read many of my reviews, you’ll know that I have a very tender place in my heart for that story-telling blend of past and present. The Munich Girl definitely fulfilled that niche. Anna’s steady discovery of Eva Braun and her mother’s secret past kept the focus of the book cleverly balanced between past and present. One remarkable thing about this book was that even though it (obviously) had a significant focus on the historical side of the story, I never felt like the story lost it’s connection with Anna. Anna was such a strong main character throughout, that she drove the book, rather than just being the key to a story about the past. Now, I’m not one to mind particularly if the historical aspects of the story are more alluring–I’m enough of a history geek that I relish that a bit too–but it is never a bad thing to have such a strong main character.
Talking about characters brings me to the second aspect of The Munich Girl that I really loved–the character development. Anna was on such a deep personal journey throughout the book. I couldn’t help rooting for her as she slowly takes control of her life. Beyond Anna, though, and amongst all the characters, the recurring theme was friendship. Long-enduring friendship that never faded even when life circumstances changed.
As to the more literary aspects of the book, I have no complaints there either. It read very easily and believably, without confusion even when it switched between viewpoints for the different sections of the book. The only part I’m still not particularly certain of is how Peggy came to have such detailed chapters about certain aspects of Eva’s life. I get that they were friends and they met occasionally to chat, but nothing ever gave me a really clear picture of when Eva would have so openly discussed certain events in her life. I more got the feeling that they talked a lot in generalities about the aspects of their lives that were so similar. That’s not really even a complaint, just a lingering sense that it wasn’t completely divulged.
Overall, I loved this book. I used every free moment I had to read it, once I started, and finished it in about a day (a day filled with chasing and cleaning up after small children at that). If you like historical fiction at all, or if you’ve enjoyed literary mysteries you should absolutely give this one a read.
Loved it: 5 out of 5 stars