Three women are bound together by fate and their husbands choices made during World War II. The husbands of Marianne von Lingenfels, Benita Fledermann and Ania Grabarek were all involved in the failed plot to assassinate Hitler in July of 1944. Appointed "the Commander of Wives and Children" by her husband, Marrianne takes her duties seriously and decides to round up those she can find in the aftermath of the War in the relative safety of her family castle, Burg Lingenfels. While Marianne succeeds at the impossible task of finding the dispersed women and children, her harsh steadfastness combined with Benita's gentle inward intuitiveness, Ania's survival drive and the children's collective shock makes for a difficult group to have under one roof. The secrets that each woman must keep combined with their sense of camaraderie creates a very different post war experience for Marianne, Benita and Ania.
The Women in the Castle is an epic story that creates a great range of feelings and complicated and scenarios. It also shines a light on the role of women and children before and after the war, but more importantly, the resistors. In thinking of the heroes of World War II, I don't often think of the Germans who were strong enough to resist Hitler's pull, even in little ways. All of the women's characters were strongly developed and I enjoyed that they showed their strength in different ways. At first, I was pulled toward Marianne's conviction and dedication to her task, but as each woman's story unfolded and the layers peeled away, I felt more and more connected to their stories and understood their reasoning. The writing does jump back and forth through time and each woman's perspective. Keeping track of the time jumps and point of view can become a bit confusing; however, you do learn things at appropriate times instead of being bombarded with too much information at once. There are many, many more things I could say about this book, but most importantly, it provides a different perspective of World War II, and comments on the importance of friendship, compassion and resistance.