Liesl and widower Frank are newlyweds; he with a newborn and two older sons. Drafted to do reconstructive surgery, Frank leaves Liesl to manage in his hometown as the war enters its final months. The book is based on letters written by the author’s grandparents.
Grim, but gripping, in its look at the struggles mothers faced, often alone. The book I was reminded of, read years ago, was Ursula Hegi’s ‘Stones from the River’ with its look at a small German town and its inhabitants in tumultuous times.
Motherland is set in Nazi Germany from December 1944 through early 1946. Liesel, a kindergarten teacher at the local spa that caters to high-ranking German officers, has married Frank Kappus, a spa doctor who has been drafted to a military hospital near Buchenwald. His first wife died during childbirth and left him with two older boys and a newborn. As Frank copes with his unwanted military assignment, Liesel is left coping with three children who are nearly strangers as the Third Reich collapses around them. This novel explores the themes of duty vs. family as Frank and Liesel struggle to stay alive and together. The author, whose grandparents "went along with Nazism", based this novel on family stories and letters between her grandparents that were discovered fifty years after the war. This book would appeal to those who liked All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr and The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. All three novels explore World War II from a European perspective.
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