Exploring Trauma, Prejudice, and the Human Condition in The German Wife

The German Wife by Kelly Rimmer ticks all the boxes for a great Historical Fiction read! There are two well-developed characters whose lives you’re equally invested in, wonderful and complex themes that create amazing book discussion, and multiple timelines within a story that is well-researched and set in fascinating historical eras. 

The story is told in the alternating points of view of two female characters – one German and one American, and pivots between three settings/eras – Germany leading up to WWII, Oklahoma during the Great Depression and the horrific dust storms and Alabama in the 1950’s during the race to get a rocket into space.  

Sofie von Meyer Rhodes lives in 1930’s Berlin with her family and love of her life, her husband Jurgen, a rocket scientist. Through Sofie’s eyes, we see the rise of power and propaganda of the Nazi party and how her family is pulled into its orbit, despite their opposition to all that the Nazi party represents. The second POV is from Lizzie, who grew up on a small Oklahoma farm during the Great Depression. 

In 1950 Lizzie is now married to Calvin, a scientist who works for the American space program. Jurgen is one of many German scientists brought over from Germany to work on American space initiatives and quietly pardoned for their involvement in the war. It is through the lives, secrets and haunted pasts of the characters – both main and secondary – that Rimmer shows how lives were impacted by loss, tempers, prejudice and the dark days during and after WWII. It was these insightful POVs and the themes of prejudice and the issue of choice that were most impactful for me and promotes fascinating discussion. 

Poignant, thought-provoking, and unputdownable. This is a well-written story that is wonderfully complex as it tackles issues of prejudice, justice, and the power of time as well as empathy and forgiveness. This story will hit you in the feels and give you so much to think about – particularly the moral struggle to make the right choice and that – despite our best efforts and internal struggles – the choices we do or do not make, even in the most horrific circumstances, will have an impact.  

Put this book on hold at WPL.ca today! 

Photo credit: kellyrimmer.com