From the bestselling author of The German Midwife comes the heart-wrenching story of a country on the brink of war, a woman who puts herself in the line of fire, and a world about to be forever changed.
Berlin, 1938: It’s the height of summer, and Germany is on the brink of war. When fledgling reporter Georgie Young is posted to Berlin, alongside fellow Londoner Max Spender, she knows they are entering the eye of the storm.
Arriving to a city swathed in red flags and crawling with Nazis, Georgie feels helpless, witnessing innocent people being torn from their homes. As tensions rise, she realises she and Max have to act – even if it means putting their lives on the line.
But when she digs deeper, Georgie begins to uncover the unspeakable truth about Hitler’s Germany – and the pair are pulled into a world darker than she could ever have imagined…
Yes, I know … another WWII book. What can I say? I’m a fan. Besides, The Berlin Girl by Mandy Robotham is a gem of a story: super original, equally terrifying and exciting, and definitely one to play with your emotions.
The story begins in 1938 as Georgie Young, an up-and-coming reporter is assigned to work in Berlin. Having covered the Olympic Games of 1936, she’s excited to return to Berlin. Joined on the journey by another young reporter, Max Spender, she is quick to react at his assumption that “George Young” would be a man, and she assures him she has both the journalistic and language skills to do the job. Her ability to speak German soon puts Max in his place. Way to go, Georgie!
This original start to the story drew me in, and despite its relatively slow pace, it acted as the perfect precursor to a thrilling and exhilarating journey through the pre-war days and the subsequent declaration of war with Germany.
Georgie is determined to do things her way, even hiring a driver she knows from her prior visit at a time when Jews like Ruben are being met with one restriction after another. It is her involvement with him and his family that ultimately saves their lives, bringing food to the table early on and later by their escape. She is not alone in helping out families like Ruben’s; many of the reporters from other countries are just as active, though some of the more vocal are soon deported from Germany.
When it becomes apparent that a German officer shows an interest in Georgie because of her Englishness, she is quick to spot the opportunity to use him for information to help her friends. At this point, it’s not only Ruben who is in danger, but Georgie too. It’s a tense moment when they go to Sachsenhausen concentration camp to retrieve letters from those imprisoned there. The pages flew by as I hoped for a good result.
Kudos to the author for including the character of Elias, Ruben’s brother-in-law – not just a Jew, but a disabled one, a person for whom the Nazi regime and all its abominations was doubly prejudiced.
Of course, knowing of the atrocities carried out, not every plan has a happy outcome, and when Georgie is called back to England, she feels her Berlin years are over. But, luckily they aren’t, and she returns in a more senior role, ready and raring to go as tensions accelerate in the city. Daily briefings with senior Nazi officials only intensify her need to help those being arrested and sent away to certain death. Only now, she has Max on her side too. And their activities grow ever more daring until they have no option but to flee themselves.
This book has a wonderful mix of drama and tension, of hope and a need to defeat the oppressors. Georgie is a strong woman in a city that changes beyond her imagination; the act of reporting becomes harder as restrictions come into play and the journalists have to find innovative ways of passing on the news. While newspapers abroad are cautious about reporting all of the news in its gory and horrific details, Georgie cleverly sends in her “Postcards” from a Berlin correspondent with an anonymous, yet birds-eye view of what is really happening.
The post-war articles at the end of the story, chronicling Georgie’s career and personal life are a lovely touch and only makes me admire her more.
I really enjoyed The Berlin Girl and highly recommend it to fans of WWII historical novels. It will be available to order as an e-book October 29th, 2020.
Many thanks to #NetGalley and the publisher Avon Books UK for allowing me to read an advance copy of the book #TheBerlinGirl by #MandyRobotham. The views expressed in this review are mine and mine alone.