Monday, March 27, 2017

The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck

*The Women in the Castle will be released Tuesday, March 28th!*

The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck. William Morrow, 2017. 368 pages.

*I received a physical ARC courtesy of HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review.*

As some of you may know, I tend to be skeptical of World War II-themed books. I have read so many of them over the years that I slowly became burned out on the genre, and now I am very choosy about those that I do pick up. I am extremely pleased to report that The Women in the Castle was a WWII book that I really enjoyed!

This story centers on the postwar lives of three women: Marianne, Benita, and Ania. We do get a few chapters told from the perspective of Benita's son, Martin, but overall this book is told from the perspective of these three women. The content and plot of this particular story was very unique and refreshing to me. Most of the books I've read that centered in Germany during WWII were told from the POV of Jews, those in concentration camps, or those running from Nazis; in this book, the story is told from German women who were not especially in danger of Nazis. Instead, this book seems to focus more on their own guilt and emotions as they come to terms with the horrors that occurred during the war and what role they did or didn't play.

This is not a linear book. Each chapter begins with a location and a date, and though it does move in a linear fashion some of the time, there is also a jumping around between dates and locations. Honestly, I'm not usually a fan of this style in books, but Shattuck is so careful with her storytelling that it actually fits in rather well and makes for an interesting read.

 I was particularly impressed with the development of each woman and how distinct each was. Shattuck could have easily gotten stuck in having three widows who were too similar in personality, but she somehow moved away from that and managed to keep each character unique to who they are. I enjoyed learning about each woman as more and more of their story was revealed and the reader is able to see more aspects of them. 

Shattuck's prose is both descriptive and simple at the same time. It is not overdone, but it is also not overtly simple, either. The Women in the Castle is not what I would call a 'page-turner,' but there is a compelling quality in Shattuck's writing that made me want to keep reading. Her words are almost haunting as they capture the darkest and most personal sentiments of these three women as they come to terms with their experiences during and after the war. 

The Women in the Castle is a thoughtful book. There is not a lot of action of suspenseful moments; instead, things are told in a thoughtful, deliberate manner in a specific order. If you enjoy World War II novels or enjoy reading books with strong character development and that are more character-focused than plot-based, then this is absolutely the book for you. 

Overall, The Women in the Castle receives four stars from me!

You might also like:
The Orphan's Tale by Pam Jenoff

1 comment:

  1. I also read a lot of WWII books in the past, so this one does sound unique and refreshing! The formatting also has me intruiged. I'm very glad you enjoyed this book, and I am definitely going to check it out on Goodreads :) Wonderful review!

    Brittany @ Brittany's Book Rambles