“PARIS, 1919: Margot Rosenthal and her father, a German diplomat, are in Paris, where the world’s leaders have gathered to rebuild Europe from the ashes of the Great War. Margot feels trapped and uncomfortable in Paris, where she is regarded as an enemy, but returning to Berlin would mean returning to her badly wounded fiancé Stefan, who she barely recognises.
Everything changes when she befriends Krysia Smok, a famous yet secretive pianist. Margot finds herself introduced to a group of radical political activists, who see her as a valuable asset in their bid to influence the peace negotiations. She also strikes up a friendship with Georg Richwalder, a handsome naval officer, haunted by his experiences of the war. As she assists him with his proposal for the peace treaty, Margot finds herself questioning where her loyalties should lie. The city is full of secrets and dangerous alliances, and trust is a luxury none can afford.”
Firstly I’d like to thank ED Public Relations for sending me this book to read and give an honest review. This is the prequel to the best-selling novel Kommandant’s Girl and was published by Mira on 8th February 2013.
I don’t often read books from this genre because anything historical tends to go over my head a bit, this is why I was so pleasantly surprised to find myself utterly engrossed in its pages. I think the romantic side played a big part in my enjoyment but I certainly enjoyed the rest of the book too, it absolutely hit the mark with me!
The prologue painted a bleak picture but set the scene well, the whole book was told from Margot’s point of view and this particular part left me wondering about the injured Stefan – I had all sorts of questions that were to be answered in the pages ahead.
Margot’s story began in Paris where she was attending the peace conference with her father. I’ll be completely honest and say that I didn’t know too much about this peace conference, this meant that some of the political details were a little confusing for me but I enjoyed it nonetheless and I actually felt like I learned something too (it’s great when a book teaches you something new).
I found that I liked Margot immensely although I also felt quite sorry for her, particularly when she described her difficulties as the daughter of a German diplomat living in Britain and later on the prejudice she encountered in Paris and Versailles. She seemed to be rather adventurous and inquisitive for a woman of her time but I noticed that she tried hard to keep everyone around her happy, even when it meant putting her own needs to one side. Her engagement to Stefan was one of the main features of the book and this was something that she tried to focus on, not always successfully I might add.
I was highly intrigued by Krysia and was excited to see where her connection with Margot would lead, I just knew it would be dangerous and I think Margot often felt out of her depth – the fact that she carried on regardless impressed me because during those moments she seemed strong and in charge of her own destiny.
Tension oozed out of every page which I felt was very appropriate for a book filled with war, politics and deception. It all increased when the Germans arrived for the conference and again when Margot met Georg. As a reader I love a powerful connection between two characters and these certainly had that – they were sweet and quite innocent around each other to begin with and Margot fought hard to deny her feelings (forbidden love made this even more exciting for me). I didn’t know what Margot would decide to do when faced with the choice between deception or truth and you’ll just have to read the book to find out for yourself :).
There were some fabulous twists towards the end with a couple of awkward arrivals that meant big changes for Margot, I literally gasped out loud because I hadn’t seen these twists coming. The epilogue also surprised me because I had pictured a different ending in my mind, I liked the way it ended though and I was left wanting more – I will definitely be reading Kommandant’s Girl.
This was a wonderful tale of self-discovery in times of adversity, I thoroughly enjoyed it.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Pam Jenoff is the author of six novels, including the international bestseller Kommandant’s Girl, which was nominated for a Quill award, as well as The Diplomat’s Wife, The Things They Cherished and The Officer’s Lover. Pam has a bachelor degree in International Affairs from George Washington University and a Master’s degree in History from Cambridge. In 1996, Pam served as Vice-Consul in Krakow, Poland, where she 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 now teaches law, and lives outside Philadelphia with her husband and three children.
You can visit Pam’s website for more information.