Title: The Prisoner’s Wife
Author: Maggie Brooks
Pub. Date: May 26, 2020
Page Length: 400
Inspired by the true story of a daring deception that plunges a courageous young woman deep into the horrors of a Nazi POW camp to be with the man she loves.
In the dead of night, a Czech farm girl and a British soldier travel through the countryside. Izabela and prisoner of war Bill have secretly married and are on the run, with Izzy dressed as a man. The young husband and wife evade capture for as long as possible–until they are cornered by Nazi soldiers with tracking dogs.
Izzy’s disguise works. The couple are assumed to be escaped British soldiers and transported to a POW camp. However, their ordeal has just begun, as they face appalling living conditions and the constant fear of Izzy’s exposure. But in the midst of danger and deprivation comes hope, for the young couple are befriended by a small group of fellow prisoners. These men become their new family, willing to jeopardize their lives to save Izzy from being discovered and shot.
The Prisoner’s Wife tells of an incredible risk, and of how our deepest bonds are tested in desperate times. Bill and Izzy’s story is one of love and survival against the darkest odds.
Izzy is a young farm girl who works tirelessly with her mother to keep their farm afloat. When a group of prisoners come to work on the farm, Izzy falls in love with Bill, a British POW. The couple secretly wed and flee with Izzy disguised as a young man. Chased and captured by Nazi soldiers, the couple is put in prison. However, Izzy is mistaken for a man and is sent to the men’s camp with Bill.
I won The Prisoner’s Wife in a Goodreads Giveaway last month, and was eager to read the book. I wondered how a woman could get away with posing as a man in a POW prison. If she were on her own, it never could have happened. But Izzy was fortunate. First, she had Bill, a man who protected her at all costs even if it included beatings, bribery, and deception. Second, an amazing group of men also took Izzy and Bill under their wings and became like a family. The couple, along with the other trusted male prisoners, hide Izzy’s true identity, knowing that the truth of her identity will lead to her execution (and probably theirs for helping her).
Izzy and Bill face extreme starvation, cruelty, and abuse as they traverse prisons. Lice, malnourishment, and illness also plague the prisoners as they complete hard manual labor and are sent on a death march of hundreds of miles in the freezing cold winter. Theirs is a horrifying reality, and yet, also a story of hope and triumph.
This is an amazing story about how heroic men risked their lives to help a desperate couple. I enjoyed reading Izzy and Bill’s love story, and how their imprisonment strengthened that bond. They, and the men who helped them, are proof that there are brave and honorable people in this world, even in the midst of death and war.
Readers who are interested in WWII fiction inspired by a true story will enjoy this powerful and poignant book. It will probably appeal to readers who enjoyed The Tattooist of Auschwitz or The Book of Lost Names.