Sunday, March 31, 2019

#BookReview: The German Midwife by Mandy Robotham

War Era Historical

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Germany, 1944. A prisoner in the camps, midwife Anke Hoff is doing what she can to keep her pregnant campmates and their newborns alive.

But when Anke’s work is noticed, she is chosen for a task far more dangerous than she could ever have imagined. High in the Bavarian hills, Eva Braun is pregnant, and Anke is assigned as her caregiver.

Before long, Anke is faced with an impossible choice. Does she serve the Reich she loathes and keep the baby alive? Or does she sacrifice an innocent child for the good of a broken world?

Most readers seem to have enjoyed the time they spent with Mandy Robotham’s The German Midwife (aka A Woman of War), but I have to admit the novel left me conflicted.

As I understand it, Hitler’s few living relations have voluntarily committed themselves to intentionally stamping out their bloodline, and I had great difficulty rectifying that knowledge against the context of Robotham’s work. I appreciate the theories that inspired this piece, but I also felt the framework Robotham chose thumbs its nose at the intensely personal decisions of very real people and couldn’t help wishing she’d opted to express herself through a different lens.

By pure coincidence, I also read this novel alongside I Was a Doctor at Auschwitz. The memoir, penned by Gisella Perl, is the firsthand account of the time its author spent as an inmate gynecologist. Fair or not, the natural overlap in subject matter prompted unconscious comparison, and while I felt the fiction heavy, I couldn’t help noticing it the paler of the two. The course of Perl’s experiences with the officers of the camp also undermined Anke’s rise, and I found I had little patience for the fiction at the end of the day.

When all is said and done, I liked the ideas on which this story was built and appreciate Robotham’s style of writing but have such mixed feelings about the historical context and contemporary implications that I’d have a hard time recommending it forward.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Obtained from: Netgalley
Read: March 19, 2019

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