I received this book as a giveaway by William Morrow in exchange for an honest review.
The book left an ambiguous impression. On one hand, not many books nowadays tackle the subject of war with grace, patience, and poise. On the other hand, it was somewhat of a disappointing novel.
The plot line mostly moves forward with occasional flashback to the pre-war and early WWII Germany. The surviving wives of German conspirators against Hitler are grappling with their lives, survival, necessary sacrifices, and guilt.
Guilt should be and is the leading theme of the novel, but somehow the existential circumstances the characters faced did not move me. Believe me, I am not immune to the topic of war, senseless violence, and guilt, but Jessica Shattuck is not Dostoevsky.
I know – it is a hefty goal to strive to be, but there is one thing I see as a trend. American writers can do thrillers and suspense books, espionage and conspiracy novels very well ( it might be a part of literary tradition) , and, to be fair, Russian writers fail miserably at it, but when it comes to emotional anguish and self-devouring guilt, inner monologues and soul-searching, no one does it better that Russian writers.
It does not mean American writers should not try, though. A nice try …
I am going to be a mean reviewer here. I am even quite confident that the book does not deserve two stars, but somehow modern thriller/mystery writers have become either repetitive or formulaic or cashing in on things that the general public will gladly buy and only then will review.
I am happy I relied on the library services to listen to this book.
The book is an exceptional combination of multiple “meh”s. The plot is weak, the allusion to water torture or witchcraft, often associated with females is somewhat far-fetched, and audio full-cast narration was somewhat mediocre.
Another questions that has been eating me alive all the time while I listened to it is how many POVs can you squeeze into the book? I know that mystery is based on initial confusion, but then the author usually offers a helping hand and leads her or his reader to the firmer ground through the bog of clues and revelations. In this book, there were so many POVs and some of them were not really present, but were “kinda there”, mostly annoying me, and even a full-cast narration did not help to distinguish one from another. To be fair, some voices sounded very similar even though they were different readers.
One other thing that frustrated me (another way of saying “annoyed me ad nauseum”) is high school drama …..
Can we please move away from it? If I knew it would involve any high school ultra hormonal themes, I would have never checked the book out. This is soooooooo not ” my cuppa”.