The German Wife [Book Review]

June 29, 2022

The German Wife by Kelly Rimmer

The German Wife by Kelly Rimmer (cover) Image: a young woman with bobbed brown hair and wearing a teal coat looks to her right

Genre/Categories/Settings: Historical Fiction, Operation Paperclip, Dust Bowl, WW11 and 1950, Germany, Oklahoma, and Alabama

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary:

Welcome to my stop on the Harlequin Trade Publishing Summer Blog Tour for Historical Fiction. Thanks #NetGalley @HTPBooks @ClubBookish #GraydonHouse for a complimentary eARC of #TheGermanWife upon my request. All opinions are my own.

2022 Historical Fiction Blog Tour (collage of covers)

The United States operated a secret intelligence program called Operation Paperclip that arrested and employed former Nazi scientists after WW11.  The German Wife tells the story of how Jürgen and his wife Sofie Rhodes became participants in the program, came to live in the United States and were eventually pardoned. Jürgen was granted a position in America’s space program. Tensions rise as Lizzie Miller and her friends/neighbors begin to hear rumors that Jürgen and Sophie were former Nazis.

My Thoughts:

Wow! The German Wife is one of my best historical fiction reads of the year so far for the following reasons:

  • Dual timelines
  • Dual perspectives
  • New (to me) information (Operation Paperclip)
  • A fresh angle to a WW11 story
  • Engaging from the first page
  • Compelling and page-turning content
  • Complicated and interesting characters
  • Thoughtful themes
  • A good balance of character-driven and plot-driven
  • Well-written and researched
  • Compulsively readable

Yes, this checks all my boxes for a five star read!

Structure: This unputdownable story alternates between two perspectives (Sophie and Lizzie) and two timelines (1930 and 1950). I admire an author who can blend two timelines and two backstories and perspectives into one cohesive story. Often in historical fiction, I prefer one timeline over the other…usually the past. In The German Wife, I was engaged with each timeline equally, and I appreciate that the author didn’t linger in one timeline for too long. This served to move the story along at a brisk pace. The author provides realistic, satisfactory, and hope-filled conclusions for Sophie and Lizzie.

Characters: Even though Sophie is the German wife, this is also a story of Lizzie. Sophie’s back story takes place before, during, and after WW11. Lizzie’s back story involves surviving the Dust Bowl. I love complex and complicated characters! By filling us in on each character’s backstory, Rimmer creates well-drawn characters and helps us understand their motivations, fears, and vulnerabilities. The unlikable quickly becomes understandable given the full context. I love dynamic and imperfect characters who grow and develop over time.

Themes: Thought-provoking themes include fear of people because of their nationality, starting over, survival, grief, acceptance, PTSD, atrocities and effects of war, life-changing choices, turning a blind eye, hardship, friendship, and prejudice.

Content Considerations: grief, PTSD, antisemitism, death of parents, suicide, WW11 conditions

Book Club: The German Wife is highly discussable and would be a fabulous book club selection. I appreciate that the author created discussion questions for readers at the story’s end.

Highly Recommended: I enthusiastically recommend The German Wife for fans of realistic, substantial, and compelling historical fiction, for readers who enjoy discussable themes, for those who love WW11 histfic, and for book clubs.

Also by Kelly Rimmer: The Things We Cannot Say, The Warsaw Orphan

My Rating:  5 Stars

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The German Wife by Kelly Rimmer (cover) Image: the profile of a young woman with short hair wearing a blue coat

The German Wife Information Here

Meet the Author, Kelly Rimmer

Author Kelly Rimmer

Kelly Rimmer is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today and internationally best selling author of contemporary and historical fiction novels including The Secret Daughter, The Things We Cannot Say, and Truths I Never Told You. Her latest novel, The Warsaw Orphan, was released in June 2021. Kelly lives in rural Australia with her family and a whole menagerie of badly behaved animals.

For further information about Kelly’s books, and to subscribe to her mailing list, visit http://www.kellyrimmer.com.



QOTD:

Is The German Wife on your TBR or have you read it?



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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.

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20 thoughts on “The German Wife [Book Review]

  1. Excellent review, Carol. I am in awe of her ability to meld all the timelines and settings into such an enjoyable and cohesive story. I agree with all you said, especially about learning someone’s backstory makes the unthinkable, understandable, perfect discription.

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