Title: The Girl from Krakow
Author: Alex Rosenberg
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing (September 1, 2015)
Copyright: September 1, 2015
Format: E-Book, 454 Pages, $8.58 [Amazon Paperback], $5.99 [Kindle], $0.00 [KindleUnlimited], $13.99 [Audible], $9.36 [Barnes & Noble Paperback], $16.64 [Barnes and Noble Audiobook], $11.95 [iBooks Audiobook]
It’s 1935. Rita Feuerstahl comes to the university in Krakow intent on enjoying her freedom. But life has other things in store—marriage, a love affair, a child, all in the shadows of the oncoming war. When the war arrives, Rita is armed with a secret so enormous that it could cost the Allies everything, even as it gives her the will to live. She must find a way both to keep her secret and to survive amid the chaos of Europe at war. Living by her wits among the Germans as their conquests turn to defeat, she seeks a way to prevent the inevitable doom of Nazism from making her one of its last victims. Can her passion and resolve outlast the most powerful evil that Europe has ever seen?
In an epic saga that spans from Paris in the ’30s and Spain’s Civil War to Moscow, Warsaw, and the heart of Nazi Germany, The Girl from Krakow follows one woman’s battle for survival as entire nations are torn apart, never to be the same.
The year is 1942 and Margarita Truschenko is a Volksdeutsche, an ethnic German from Poland. With blonde hair, stunning features, and blue eyes, she is the very picture of an Aryan woman. She stands at the train station where she waits with several SS Officers to board the train. What no one realizes is that this perfect Aryan woman, this Margarita Truschenko is far from who she seems. What no one realizes is that she is frightened of all the SS Officers who surround her and knows that they would kill her if they knew her real identity. Her real name is Rita Guildenstern (née Feuerstahl), a Jewish woman who is hiding from the Germans in plain sight.
Her story begins seven years earlier when she is attending University in Krakow. All of the Polish students in her class are jeering at her because she is sitting on a bench designated for Jewish students. With her appearance, no one suspects she is Jewish and the other students believe she is trying to make some sort of political statement. Enter Urs Guildenstern, an intellectual and thoughtful young man who pursues her with dogged determination. Throughout their first conversation, Rita goes out of her way to insult Urs and attempts to dissuade him from attempting to form some sort of romantic attachment. At first she thinks that Urs is a Polish man but soon learns that he is Jewish just like her.
Little does she realize that she has fallen into the trap she was determined to avoid. Urs and Rita do what many young people do, they fall in love and marry. Her husband plays the role of doctor and devoted husband while Rita is something of a disaffected housewife. She goes through the motions that any housewife does such as the cooking and the cleaning but there is no contentment within her. Her mother-in-law constantly chides her for not buying exclusively from Jewish businesses and exhorts her to get pregnant already. Aside from that, Rita is entirely alone. While out walking one day, Rita runs into a strange but cheeky young man who introduces himself as Tadeusz Sommermann. For some reason, she finds the eccentric Tadeusz irresistible and the two launch into a full-blown affair. All this happens up until the moment that the Germans invade Poland and their lives change forever.
Alex Rosenberg’s The Girl from Krakow can hardly be called a historical romance. If anything, it is a dark, gritty story about three souls whose lives are irrevocably linked. It took me a good while to get into the story and I found the heroine, Rita to be somewhat unlikable. However, as the story progressed, Rita did interest me at times and I found her to be witty when she needed to be. I do have to say that the only character that I really liked was Tadeusz Sommerman. He was a fascinating character who was able to adopt an entirely different persona and to survive through the Spanish Civil War as well as in Stalin’s Russia. The writing was superb in my opinion but the story did bore me at times. Sometimes it dragged on but at other times, I was on the edge of my seat. I give this book 2.5 Red Lancaster Roses because it did hold my interest and I enjoyed the writing style but it just wasn’t my cup of tea.