Resistance Women: A Review

June 28, 2019

Resistance Women by Jennifer Chiaverini

Resistance Women Review

Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, Pre WW11, WW11, Jewish, German

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

Mildred Fish, an American College graduate, meets the love of her life, Arvid Harnack. After they fall in love, they marry and make their home in Arvid’s homeland of Germany. Mildred and Arvid thrive there, forming new friendships, and enjoying the intellectual and artistic offerings of 1930s Berlin. As Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party become more popular and powerful, Mildred and Arvid and their friends are compelled to resist. For years, Mildred and Arvid and their cohorts risk their lives to gather intelligence to bring down the Third Reich from within. Sadly, their sincere efforts don’t result in the help they desired or envisioned. This is a story of ordinary people who, while they should be enjoying their carefree youth, give their best efforts to fighting evil and saving their country.

My Thoughts:

Jennifer Chiaverini puts history back into historical fiction!

Pacing: Most of the story is focused on prewar Germany. Many WW11 books drop the reader right into the middle of the war action and atrocities. In contrast, Jennifer Chiaverini devotes approximately 60% of the story tracing the fascinating buildup to WW11. For the most part, this is a quiet story that focuses on the lives of ordinary, patriotic, sincere, and likable people and the difficult circumstances in which they find themselves. Although Resistance Women is not a page-turner, the suffering, quiet desperation, and stealthy efforts of the characters are engaging. As the conspirators continue to live their lives as best they can, they quietly find others who share their concern and are also willing to take risks. These risks do not produce many rewards, and as Mildred and her friends suffer dire consequences, the pace of the story quickens.

Writing: Resistance Women is well researched and thoughtfully written, and I can picture the author writing the story with all of her notecards spread out around her. In this 600 page story, there’s a significant amount of time devoted to the build-up of the war. If the focus on this time in history interests you, you will appreciate the read. The author includes a great deal of “reporting” of the events, a lot of “telling” and minimal “showing.” It’s like reading a history book where we hear about the events but we do not experience them alongside the character. So even though it’s easy reading, the writing isn’t as engaging or page turning as some other historical fiction books that I’ve read over the past years. Nevertheless, I enjoyed Resistance Women because the prewar history and details about the lives of real people fascinate me. If there had been more specific details about the characters’ activities (more intrigue), I would have bumped this up to a full five stars. In summary, this is a “quiet” story that’s heavily character driven with a great deal of emphasis on the build-up to the war.

Characters: Resistance Women shares the experiences of three courageous souls and their resistance efforts: Mildred (an American married to a German man), Greta, and Sara. These three unforgettable and ordinary women risk their lives to fight evil. It is especially interesting to read about the American, Mildred, and her commitment to the resistance movement.  (trigger warning: disturbing details in the following article) Mildred is a fascinating character to me because she is an American who grew to love her husband’s homeland and risked her life to fight against the Nazis. (Although there are some gruesome details in the article, the book doesn’t include the most disturbing details.) There is a memorial honoring Mildred in Madison, Wisconsin (USA). In Wisconsin schools, Sept. 16 is celebrated as Mildred Harnack Day. It’s her birthday.

Mildred Harnack Memorial

On Oct. 31, a monument to Harnack was placed in Marshall Park. Image Source.

An additional note of historical interest is that Mildred Harnack was married to the cousin of the famous theologian, Detrich Bonhoeffer, and he is mentioned at the beginning of the book. Some of you may recognize the name. This is a book recommendation about Bonhoeffer’s life and his part in the resistance movement.

Themes: Thoughtful themes include hope, friendship, bravery, courage, risk-taking, patriotism, and ordinary people doing extraordinary things in the most impossible and difficult circumstances. These themes would contribute to a great book club discussion.

Recommended: Jennifer Chiaverini puts the history into historical fiction! If you are ever frustrated by historical fiction that reads like women’s fiction in a historical setting, you can be assured that there’s an abundance of history in Resistance Women. I recommend this story for readers who love a quieter, character-driven story with lots of historical detail, for those who might be interested in the prewar buildup in Germany, and for fans of Jennifer Chiaverini (and, of course, histfic). This story would provide thoughtful discussion topics for a book club.

My Rating:  4 Stars

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Resistance Women

Resistance Women Information

Meet the Author, Jennifer Chiaverini

Jennifer Chiaverini

Jennifer Chiaverini is the New York Times bestselling author of FATES AND TRAITORS, MRS. LINCOLN’S DRESSMAKER, MRS. LINCOLN’S RIVAL, THE SPYMISTRESS, MRS. GRANT AND MADAME JULE, and other acclaimed historical novels. She also wrote the beloved Elm Creek Quilts series, as well as six collections of quilt patterns inspired by her books. A graduate of the University of Notre Dame and the University of Chicago, she lives with her husband and two sons in Madison, Wisconsin. About her historical fiction, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes, “In addition to simply being fascinating stories, these novels go a long way in capturing the texture of life for women, rich and poor, black and white, in those perilous years.”



QOTD!

Have you read any other titles by Jennifer Chiaverini?



Happy Reading Book Buddies!

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

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Looking Ahead:

Sunday, I’ll publish my June Wrap Up and I’m also working on a post which will highlight my favorite reads for the first half of 2019.

Coming soon! A special collaboration post with twelve other bloggers in which we each give our recommendation for ONE great summer book!

One Great Summer Read



My Summer TBR



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Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

Book Cover and author photo are credited to Amazon or an author’s (or publisher’s) website.

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19 thoughts on “Resistance Women: A Review

    • It’s definitely history intensive and not a typical page turner spy story….. but the history of the build up is fascinating! Thanks so much for stopping in and commenting!

      Like

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  3. I love historical fiction and I actually don’t mind a book that’s a bit heavy on the facts, so I’d probably enjoy this one. #abitofeverything

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s a hefty read at almost 600 pages…..and it’s character driven so not a page turner. It took me some time to read it so maybe your instincts were right! My request for an arc was declined!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ah… yes… I remember seeing the page count and thinking… OY! I don’t know why the publisher approached me about this one – it just came out of the blue. But… on second thought – an American Jew living in Israel reading historical fiction (and a great deal surrounding WWI and WWII), yeah, it should have been my thing.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. This is the kind of book that very much appeals to me, I like to focus on ordinary people and also love reading about parts if history that aren’t routinely covered in books.
    #abitofeverything

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I just stumbled on your site (really awesome!) and followed you on Goodreads. Your review of Resistance Women is just awesome and I’m with you 100% in your rating and review. I look forward to perusing your reads and reviews from the last few years to add new books to my list! Sher

    Liked by 1 person

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