This is from a new Australia writer, drawing on her family history.
Lotte at 17 has big plans, but this is no easy time to be thinking of the future. She is in Munich in 1943, and the tide is turning against the Germans, though Lotte still sees Hitler as her country’s hero.
She finds work as a secretary in the local Luftwafe, happy to be doing her bit while she prepares to marry her long-time sweetheart, Heinrich.
But the war puts increasing demands on everyone, and she finds herself thrown together with her boss, Erich.
As it becomes clear Germany has lost – with Heinrich missing and Erich’s wife and children believed dead – she and Erich are forced into a dangerous trek to safety. And that is only the beginning of her struggles.
Sydney writer Blanchard based this book on stories and letters her German grandmother shared about her life in the war years, and she is now writing a sequel, based on her grandmother’s post-war life in Australia in the 1950s.
This novel focuses heavily on Lotte’s personal struggles and relationships, with the true horrors and difficulties of the war largely taking a back seat.
Personal disclosure: In many ways this book was difficult for me. This story has many similarities with my mother’s life, and what happened to her in the latter stages of the war as teenage girl in Germany. I know her experience left her traumatised, unable to speak about aspects for most of her life. I accept that degree of disclosure isn’t necessary for a story of this kind, and that it chooses to avoid the full emotional impact of what happened on the local population.
This book was published in September 2017. This is a slightly expanded version of a review that ran in the Herald Sun’s Weekend magazine.