Daughter of the Reich by Louise Fein
1930s Germany. A daughter of an SS officer and a Jewish boy become entangled in an affair that alters their lives. Walter Keller once saved Htty Heinrich’s life when she was a child. He also used to be her brother’s best friend. But things changed when Hetty’s father became a high-ranking SS officer in charge of a newspaper, things are never again the same. Klas Heinrich immediately cuts ties with Walter. Hetty goes years without seeing Walter again until a chance encounter one day. Soon, they knowingly break laws and find ways to meet. What will happen to them?
Though there is a love story to this novel, the heart of it is in Hetty’s personal struggles. She first strives to be a dutiful daughter, both of her father and of the Reich. But Hetty is observant, so little by little she starts second guessing everything she has been taught. How will she react to a Jewish neighbor being mocked? How does she handle being part of the Duetsch Madel, the female version of the Hitler Youth? What happens when she makes a startling discovery about her family? How does she react when she discovers she has been spied upon?
Readers of the novel will be hard pressed not to feel Hetty’s emotional struggles and sympathize with her. Though be warned, it is hard to stomach just how devoted she was to Hitler’s cause at the start of the novel. But as the novel progresses, readers soon start to understand and see the changes occurring. Throughout, the imagery in the novel is vivid with multiple, deeply developed characters. Readers will have a true understanding of life in 1930s Germany. In addition, despite its length, the novel is a quick read, especially as the need to know what is happening next is apparent in many places. And it’s Hetty’s struggles that drive the story forward.
Have you had the opportunity to read this novel yet? If so, share your thoughts? If not, do you think you’ll read it?
This review is based on a copy won in a Good Reads First Reads giveaway.