I know this post is coming a few days after the release, but Marion Kummerow’s latest novel War Girl Ursula is a fun, dynamic, and emotional read. It has just enough hope and whimsy to balance out the horrors of Berlin and mass execution in Berlin during the height of WWII. War Girl Ursula is an outstanding start to what is sure to be an exciting series, and I can’t wait to get my hands on the next instalment!
Title: War Girl Ursula
Author: Marion Kummerow
Publisher: Washington Square Press
Publication Date: June 28, 2017
Genre: Fiction, Literary Fiction, Historical Fiction
Themes: WWII, Survival, Family, Romance
My Rating: 4/ 5
A prisoner escapes. A guard looks the other way.
In Berlin 1943 compassion is a crime. Now both have to fear for their lives.
Ursula Hermann has always lived the law, never broken the rules in her life. Her discipline serves her well in her job as a prison guard.
That is until the day she finds escapee British airman Tom Westlake and all the right she’s worked so hard to maintain goes wrong…
And she does nothing to stop him.
Torn with guilt about what she did, Ursula battles with her decision when suddenly Tom returns, injured and pleading for her help.
This is her opportunity to make things right.
But shadows from the past tug at her heart, convincing her to risk everything, including her life, in order to protect a man she barely knows.
As they brave the perils and dangers of the ever-present Gestapo, will Ursula find a way to keep Tom safe? Or will being on the opposite sides of the war ultimately cost both of them their lives?
What a fun little book! And I say little not because of the content, but because it was a lovely reprieve from some of the larger tomes I seem to have been reading lately. At 190 pages I sat down to read the first few chapters, found myself enthralled, and was suddenly infuriated by the cliff-hanger ending and desperate for the next instalment in the series. It was so good!
Despite being a shorter novel, Kummerow manages to pack in a good deal of heavy hitting history, some serious soul searching and moral dilemmas, and a sweet little romance. I love the backstory for the Blonde Angel in Kummerow’s grandparent’s letters, and think that she has done a wonderful job breathing imagination into a passing character from her family’s past. It is heartening to consider the stories of those who quietly resisted and opposed the Nazi regime, the depth of their bravery when it came to assisting those who were being unjustly persecuted.
I found myself infatuated by the Steel Helmet Weddings, and was surprised to learn in my own research just how tiny the wedding helmets actually were… Like, a war helmet for a hamster! Regardless though, I can’t imagine what it would be like to be married by proxy and then loose your spouse before they ever have a chance to return home. I really felt for Ursula, and while I disliked her staunch adherence to dictated thought at the beginning of the novel, I was happy to see that her husband’s death served as a catalyst for some positive change.
I enjoyed the breadth of characters, as well the depth of the character growth and development throughout the book. Each of the sisters had such distinct personalities, and yet just enough similarities that you easily draw the family connections. Also, I really loved the mother, because sometimes you just have to know when not knowing is the best thing for everyone! But more than anything, I enjoyed how much attention was paid to the prisoners as it really embodied them as human beings and as something so much more than the byproducts of war.
And don’t even get me started on Frau Weber. She is easily the most believable character in the story, and that’s only because we have all had one of those neighbours. She transported me back to my first home, my Greek widowed neighbour, and the calls to my parents that went along the lines of ‘your daughter, she’s a-kissin’ a boy on the front step!’ – ugh. Although Frau Weber plays a relatively minor role, I found that her presence was a wonderful tool when it came to advancing the plot, breaking and/ or increasing the tension, and adding some welcome comic relief at just the right moments.
Would I recommend this book? Oh, heck yes! I can’t wait for the next instalment of the War Girl series, as I love Ursula, Anna, Lotte and their mother. With a cast of strong women, just enough intrigue, a steamy English pilot and one of my favourite time periods I will undoubtedly recommending this book to all of my friends and family.
Many thanks to Marion Kummerow for providing an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.