Written by a woman, about women, for women. This fictional story is told from the point of view of three completely different women who have endured, participated in and survived World War II.
Marianne von Lingenfels picks up the pieces after the war and makes it her mission to find other widows with children, like herself, who needs assistance. Her first task was to find her best friend, Connie’s wife, Benita and their son, Martin. She had promised Connie that should he be killed, she would take care of his simple wife and son.
Strong, determined and well-respected, Marianne tracked down both Benita and Martin, reconnecting their family in an attempt to normalise in the aftermath of the war.
Benita, having been used for her beauty amongst enemy soldiers, was broken and unwilling to continue with life. Everything had been taken from her and all she had left was Martin. Unlike Marianne who was fuelled by the death of her husband and her hatred of Hitler and the Nazis, Benita was indifferent to politics and wished simply to live a glamourous life, filled with love and adoration.
A strange widow, Ania and her sons, join them in the dilapidated castle. Ania is practical, strong and brings relief for Marianne who attempted to take care of everyone by herself. In line with Ania’s practicality, she quickly marries a local farmer, securing her sons’ futures in Germany.
Each woman holds many secrets as they attempt to fix everything that had been broken, but the scars of war follow them, haunt them and test them.
The Women of the Castle is must-read for anyone who enjoys historical fiction, particularly World War II. Although the novel is fictional, Shattuck was inspired by her grandparent’s life during the Nazi era.
Starting off slowly, the novel describes in detail the mindsets of the people involved in the story and then suddenly, without noticing, it grabs you and swallows you whole, until you have turned the last page. Filled with surprises, plot twists and unexpected events, The Women of the Castle was overall an enjoyable read.
(I nearly pulled my hair out each time I had the opportunity to know what went on in Benita’s mind)