The Kommandant’s Girl:The Kommandant’s Girl #1 by Pam Jenoff

The Kommandant’s Girl:The Kommandant’s Girl #1 by Pam Jenoff

A story that intrigued the historic fiction fan in me from the start, this ambitious story from Pam Jenoff is on the blog today. Please read on for my review of

The Kommandant’s Girl

I couldn’t help but grab for this title when the review opportunity arose. World War II historic fiction with all of the grey areas brought forth with a need to survive versus your own moral code.  Jenoff created a romance to play in the foreground of major political and societal upheaval.  But, there were plenty of good ideas brought forward in this story, and I was completely wrapped up in the reading to the end.

With an initial premise that could go any of several different directions, Emma is a newlywed, young, rather sheltered girl when her homeland is invaded by the Nazis. Her husband, a Jewish Activist, flees for his life, and Emma must be smuggled out of the city to a gentile Aunt’s home in Krakow, assume a new identity and live through the war.   Now living as Anna, an introduction to Kommandant Richwalder results in the offer of a position in the Kommandant’s office.

As is not uncommon, youth and inexperience when faced with power often leads to situations that are loosely termed romance. The power imbalance here is so great, the consequences so dire, that I cannot see Anna/Emma’s attraction as more than infatuation. Even though, Jenoff did make the character of Georg reasonably sympathetic – and rightly so. Everyone in the war was not all good or all bad – even as their actions did skew their reputations later.

So – we have a not-so-unusual romance or flirtation in a time of war, and then the story starts to fail the premise.  Too many coincidences to neatly wrap-up threads started, with a heroine who seems completely unaware of the devastation around her.  A timeframe that is, at best, problematic in terms of actual history – a failing that I wish didn’t add to the negatives here. Facts are easy to verify and check, and while personal accounts shared through family may have additional details to share, the trajectory of the war, the presence of the occupying force, and the questions around when Germany realized that they could (not would) lose the war all play in far too early in the story to hold the pieces in place.  Intriguing and engaging despite the holes in timeline and failure to actually develop the heroine will provide readers with an interesting story, but one that could be much more satisfying.

The Kommandant’s Girl:The Kommandant’s Girl #1 by Pam Jenoff

Title: The Kommandant's Girl
Author: Pam Jenoff
Series: The Kommandant's Girl #1
Genre: European History, Historical Fiction, Poland, Romantic Elements, World War II
Published by: Harlequin MIRA
ISBN: 0778320588
Published on: 27 September, 2016
Format:eARC
Source: Publisher Via Edelweiss
Pages: 400
Rated: three-stars
Heat: One FlameOne Flame

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In her luminous and groundbreaking debut, bestselling author Pam Jenoff shows the unimaginable sacrifices one woman must make in a time of war

Nineteen-year-old Emma Bau has been married only three weeks when Nazi tanks thunder into her native Poland. Within days Emma's husband, Jacob, is forced to disappear underground, leaving her imprisoned within the city's decrepit Jewish ghetto. But then, in the dead of night, the resistance smuggles her out. Taken to Krakow to live with Jacob's Catholic aunt, Krysia, Emma takes on a new identity as Anna Lipowski, a gentile.

Emma's already precarious situation is complicated by her introduction to Kommandant Richwalder, a high-ranking Nazi official who hires her to work as his assistant. Urged by the resistance to use her position to access details of the Nazi occupation, Emma must compromise her safety—and her marriage vows—in order to help Jacob's cause. As the atrocities of war intensify, so does Emma's relationship with the Kommandant, building to a climax that will risk not only her double life, but also the lives of those she loves.

A copy of this title was provided via Publisher Via Edelweiss for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.

About Pam Jenoff

Pam Jenoff was born in Maryland and raised outside Philadelphia. She attended George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and Cambridge University in England. Upon receiving her master’s in history from Cambridge, she accepted an appointment as Special Assistant to the Secretary of the Army. The position provided a unique opportunity to witness and participate in operations at the most senior levels of government, including helping the families of the Pan Am Flight 103 victims secure their memorial at Arlington National Cemetery, observing recovery efforts at the site of the Oklahoma City bombing and attending ceremonies to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of World War II at sites such as Bastogne and Corregidor.

Following her work at the Pentagon, Pam moved to the State Department. In 1996 she was assigned to the U.S. Consulate in Krakow, Poland. It was during this period that Pam developed her expertise in Polish-Jewish relations and the Holocaust. Working on matters such as preservation of Auschwitz and the restitution of Jewish property in Poland, Pam developed close relations with the surviving Jewish community.

Pam left the Foreign Service in 1998 to attend law school and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania. She worked for several years as a labor and employment attorney both at a firm and in-house in Philadelphia and now teaches law school at Rutgers.

Pam is the author of The Kommandant's Girl, which was an international bestseller and nominated for a Quill award, as well as The Winter Guest, The Diplomat's Wife, The Ambassador’s Daughter, Almost Home, A Hidden Affair and The Things We Cherished. She also authored a short story in the anthology Grand Central: Original Postwar Stories of Love and Reunion. She lives outside Philadelphia with her husband and three children.

 

Reading this book contributed to these challenges: