Title: Daughter of the Reich
Author: Louise Fein
Page Length: 560
Publication Date: May 12, 2020
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Synopsis: For fans of The Nightingale and All the Light We Cannot See, a spellbinding story of impossible love set against the backdrop of the Nazi regime.
As the dutiful daughter of a high-ranking Nazi officer, Hetty Heinrich is keen to play her part in the glorious new Thousand Year Reich. But she never imagines that all she believes and knows about her world will come into stark conflict when she encounters Walter, a Jewish friend from the past, who stirs dangerous feelings in her. Confused and conflicted, Hetty doesn’t know whom she can trust and where she can turn to, especially when she discovers that someone has been watching her.
Realizing she is taking a huge risk—but unable to resist the intense attraction she has for Walter—she embarks on a secret love affair with him. Together, they dream about when the war will be over and plan for their future. But as the rising tide of anti-Semitism threatens to engulf them, Hetty and Walter will be forced to take extreme measures.
Will the steady march of dark forces destroy Hetty’s universe—or can love ultimately triumph…?
Propulsive, deeply affecting, and inspired by the author’s family history, Daughter of the Reich is a mesmerizing page-turner filled with vivid characters and a meticulously researched portrait of Nazi Germany. In this riveting story of passion, courage and morality, Louise Fein introduces a bold young woman determined to tread the treacherous path of survival and freedom, showing readers the strength in the power of love and reminding us that the past must never be forgotten.
I won The Daughter of the Reich in a Goodreads Giveaway. A reader of WWII fiction, I was curious about this story because it seemed different from others in the genre. Usually WWII stories that I read focus on the victims or opponents of Hitler and the Nazis. This story, however, is told from the perspective of Hetty, the daughter of a high ranking Nazi officer.
If you ever wondered how Hitler gained so many followers, this might be the book for you. Hetty, like all other German children, has been brought up to believe in the ways of Hitler and the Nazi regime. The curriculum at school, news outlets and radio, and other propaganda feed lies to the citizens, slowly building a culture of prejudice and hate. Hetty, like many others, blindly follow the dictates of society without question. Hetty puts her dreams and desires aside for the promising future as described by the charismatic Hitler. That is, until she falls in love with Walter.
When she reunites with Walter, her brother’s childhood friend and a boy who rescued her from drowning when she was younger, she realizes that all she’s been taught is filled with lies. Walter is a wonderful young man, one who Hetty has always admired, but Walter is Jewish. His family suffers while her rises in affluence and power. Hetty slowly learns the truth of what is happening to Walter and other Jews, and she must reevaluate all that she knows about the world she lives in.
As Hetty learns more about what is really happening in Germany and beyond, she engages in a forbidden romance with Walter. With him, Hetty learns of the atrocities she’d previously been sheltered from. Determined to help Walter and his family, Hetty puts her own life in danger to do what she thinks is morally right.
Daughter of the Reich is an engaging, disturbing, and heart-breaking story that details the harsh realities of World War II. It doesn’t shy away from the ugliness, the tragedy, and the heartbreak that many suffered during the war.
I did find the story difficult to read because of it’s perspective. To read about people who believed in Hitler and his disturbing plans for Germany (and more) isn’t meant to be easy. Reading about people who were blind to what was happening, or worse, who condoned it, frustrated and angered me. However, books like this are important and, unfortunately, still relevant.
Readers who are interested in WWII fiction told from a unique perspective will enjoy this fascinating story. It will also appeal to readers who enjoyed books like The Tattooist of Auschwitz or The Book of Lost Names.