The German House by Annette Hess; Elisabeth Lauffer
Title: The German House
Author: Annette Hess, Elisabeth Lauffer
Publisher: 4th Estate, HarperVia
Published Date: 12 December, 2019
Length: 336 pages
Genre: Fiction, Historical Fiction, German Literature, Translated Lit.
Set against the Frankfurt Auschwitz Trials of 1963, Annette Hess’s international bestseller is a harrowing yet ultimately uplifting coming-of-age story about a young female translator—caught between societal and familial expectations and her unique ability to speak truth to power—as she fights to expose the dark truths of her nation’s past.
If everything your family told you was a lie, how far would you go to uncover the truth?
For twenty-four-year-old Eva Bruhns, World War II is a foggy childhood memory. At the war’s end, Frankfurt was a smoldering ruin, severely damaged by the Allied bombings. But that was two decades ago. Now it is 1963, and the city’s streets, once cratered are smooth and paved. Shiny new stores replace scorched rubble. Eager for her wealthy suitor, Jürgen Schoormann, to propose, Eva dreams of starting a new life away from her parents and sister. But Eva’s plans are turned upside down when a fiery investigator, David Miller, hires her as a translator for a war crimes trial.
As she becomes more deeply involved in the Frankfurt Trials, Eva begins to question her family’s silence on the war and her future. Why do her parents refuse to talk about what happened? What are they hiding? Does she really love Jürgen and will she be happy as a housewife? Though it means going against the wishes of her family and her lover, Eva, propelled by her own conscience , joins a team of fiery prosecutors determined to bring the Nazis to justice—a decision that will help change the present and the past of her nation.
I am lucky in that I get to read some books that I normally wouldn’t be able to. ARCs from NetGalley tend to do that and I am so glad that I got to know about it. The German House is about Frankfurt trials and I admit that I didn’t know much about this but I am so glad that I chose to request this one. I know a bit about the matter and the book also helped me gain knowledge so yay for that.
It’s translated fiction and it was a bit dry in the beginning and my pace was slow in the beginning because of that. However as the plot started to reveal itself, I started speeding up the reading. It also made me pause my reading and google some things because I simply wasn’t aware of those things and needed help.
So let’s get into the story. Eva Bruhns is twenty four years old, she’s hoping her boyfriend (Jürgen Schoormann) will propose to her soon, talk to her family about their wedding soon. She’s a translator and someone called David Miller suddenly wants her to translate some interviews, she does arrive to the interview and realises that it’s not her normal work. It’s about the war crimes trials and what she learns during this time horrifies her.
This is the gist of the book but what made it really notable to me was the way it’s written. While there was a patch in the beginning that was jarring when it just simply switched perspectives and I was super confused but apart from that, the book is so solid. Eva is a great main character and I think, from what I have read on the internet, her overall feelings on the trials are similar to what many people thought during that time who were also living Frankfurt.
There are other perspectives that also work wonderfully in the book, unlike in the beginning, these happen later in the book and were written in a better way. The other thing I loved about this one is the way the author wove a way to go into detail about the atrocities of war and concentration camps and just the general inhuman acts that happened in Auschwitz.
As someone who is always ready to learn more about history of the world, this one was a great educational trip. Seriously. So much googling. But in the best way possible. I would definitely recommend it to those who like to read about history or more importantly, WWII then this is a great pick.