1936, Nazi-ruled Berlin. A heartbreaking and stunningly powerful novel of friendship, courage and betrayal, about two girls whose lives collide in war-torn Berlin, and whose friendship is the only thing that might get them out alive.
They sat together on the roof, watching Berlin burn, as traces of smoke and cloud floated through the air. “I just want to be free,” Rosa said quietly, “Even if only for a few minutes. It might be the last chance I have.”
From her beautiful new home in Berlin, a young woman named Liesel Scholz barely notices the changes to the city around her. Her life is one of privilege and safety thanks to her father’s job working for the new government.
But a chance encounter with Rosa, the daughter of their Jewish housekeeper, confirms Liesel’s fears that something isn’t right. That the Nazi government’s brutal rules are cruel and dangerous, and that others aren’t as safe as she is. When Rosa begs Liesel to help—pressing her grandfather’s gold pocket watch into Liesel’s hand—Liesel recklessly agrees.
She will help hide Rosa and her loved ones—in the dusty, unused rooms at the top of their house—even if it means putting everyone she loves in danger. Even if it means risking her own life.
Frankfurt, 1946: An idealistic American captain, Sam Houghton, arrives in Germany to interrogate prominent Nazis on trial and to help rebuild a battered country. When he hires an enigmatic, damaged interpreter named Anna, he doesn’t expect sparks to fly between them. Perhaps there is a chance of love for both of them. But then the question of what happened to Anna in the war raises its head.
Because Anna has secrets—ones that link her to Berlin, the Nazi party, and the story of one gold pocket watch and two young women who became friends, even when they were told it was impossible…
A compelling and haunting story about courage, love and betrayal set in war-torn Berlin. Fans of The Alice Network, All the Light We Cannot See and The Nightingale will be not be able to put this down.
I really enjoyed Kate’s last book as it contains so many of my favourite aspects of a satisfying read – it had plenty of real life events woven through it and readers of my column know that I often go off to try and find out as much as possible about the people living at the time of characters that I’ve fallen in love with after finishing a book I’ve loved, as I get so caught up in the story. The Girl from Berlinthe was just as satisfying and beautifully written as Into the Darkest Day and I’m glad I was off duty last weekend, so that I could dedicate a whole day to this book and spend some time in a wholly different time and place with this thought provoking and moving historical read
Kate Hewitt definitely has a sensitivity and grace to her writing that is extremely hard to find elsewhere. This is another moving and absorbing read with every element of it absolutely pitch-perfect. I absolutely loved the idea of discovering Berlin before the war and have been loving the series Babylon Berlin across the lockdown – so this book came along at exactly the right time for me. Meeting Rosa and Liesel and becoming entwined in their story was a sobering reminder that there were a great many Rosas and Liselels in 1936 Berlin and I feel like this whenever I read Historical fiction – it makes me want to start exploring social history and find out as much as I can about the time that the characters that I’ve fallen so hard for actually lived through
The Girl from Berlin is a beautifully evocative and heartbreaking read at times, it is written in such a skilful way that allows Kate Hewitt to deploy all of her historical research without ever losing sight of the fact that in a novel we have to care about the characters that we are reading about and we never falter for a second in this regard. I am lost in admiration for her skill in bringing this period to life so authentically and making us feel like we are these right alongside them– I loved the fact that we have the dual timeline, allowing us to see Berlin in its ‘before’ and ‘after’ and I really enjoyd seeing things from Sam’s perspective as it’s a time period that I knew very little about. I am desperate for our book group to start up again as I think that this would make for the perfect read to get us all engaged, talking and caught up in the secrets and sacrifices that had to be made by so many brave individuals and which Kate Hewitt brings so movingly to life in these pages.
I absolutely love it when my own world and the world of a book that I am reading with collide. It was amazing to read about Rosa story when we have been looking at memorable and inspiring women in the run up to International women’s day . The story of how the war affected everyone, not just the soldiers who fought in it is a very important one and one that really captured my imagination and my emotions this season. I loved The Nightingale for precisely this reason – that we are able to see the real impact of war on ordinary people What Kate Hewitt does that affected me so much was never to make me feel like she is using her characters to make a point. Instead the things that you think about and become moved, upset and enraged by occur naturally in the story rather than feeling like useful plot devices. Her sensitivity and respect for the past is written into the fabric of the text and I absolutely loved every moment of it. Even though I wanted to find out answers as I was reading, I was caught in a catch 22 where I was willing the novel to last forever whilst at the same time longing to know how it would all end – this is the very definition of a satisfying read and if you haven’t bought a copy yet, it has to be next on your Spring book shopping list.
If I haven’t convinced you yet, take a look at what these other fantastic fellow bloggers think on the blog tour
Writer On The Shelf
Kate Hewitt is the author of many romance and women’s fiction novels. A former New Yorker and now an American ex-pat, she lives in a small town on the Welsh border with her husband, five children, and their overly affectionate Golden Retriever. Whatever the genre, she enjoys telling stories that tackle real issues and touch people’s lives.
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