Book Club: The Girl From Munich

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Author: Tania Blanchard
ISBN: 9781925596144
RRP: $29.99
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Copy: Courtesy of the Publisher

Tania Blanchard has written an eye opening debut set in WWII. Now, I learned about the war in high school history, I have watched movies about the war and I have read books set in the war but The Girl From Munich was something completely different from anything I have been exposed to, and remember.

The Girl From Munich is set in Germany, during the war and in the aftermath, and centres on German civilians. These are stories that I haven’t heard. I remember wondering, as a student, how this happened; if the atrocities really were performed by such a small percentage of Germans then how did the rest of the population allow it to happen. The Girl From Munich goes a little way to demonstrating exactly that.

It’s 1943 and Charlotte is planning a gorgeous wedding to her childhood sweetheart, actually it’s more like she’s sitting listening while the mothers plan the perfect wedding. She loves Heinrich but as her childhood best friend she’s known no-one else. Charlotte, Lotte as she’s known throughout the book, is a patriotic supporter of her homeland and wants to do her bit for her country in the war effort. Trained as a photographer she would love to use her camera to capture what is going on but her mother won’t have it; she’s afraid of losing her, and afraid of the effect it will have on the family name.

Lotte gets a job as a secretary for the Luftwaffe, the best compromise that could be arranged with her protective mother. She does administration work relating to the aircraft and airfields, far away from the front. Heinrich is studying to be a doctor; far enough along in his studies to be working and posted to hospitals on the front.

The Girl From Munich is the story of Lotte, an ordinary girl from a wealthy family. A girl who loves her country and believes in the promises being made by the Fuhrer, unaware of all that is going on and hoping that the promises of an end to the war come to pass sooner rather than later.

Blanchard explores the slow dawning of scepticism in many patriotic people as the war continues and the tides don’t seem to be turning in Germany’s favour. Lotte remains loyal to her country, believing the propaganda that is publicised and believing that atrocities are committed without the knowledge of the Fuhrer. We watch on as time passes until she too is left questioning what she has always believed.

There is a lot going on in The Girl From Munich and I think I would benefit from a second read to see what new information I grasp second time round. Yes, it’s a story of WWII and set in the heart of Germany. Yes, it’s a story of civilians and the way they experienced the war.

It is also a coming of age story for the bright-eyed girl desperate to help fight for her country as she waits for the time she can marry her childhood sweetheart and become a woman. Blanchard explores the grief and loss faced when loved ones are lost, or feared lost, in the devastation of battle or bombings. It is the uncertainty of war, the hardship of rations and the commandeering of property by the armed forces for the displaced.

Lotte faces some hard decisions and finds herself at a crossroad more than once. She is faced with following her heart or her family, choosing her affluent upbringing or a life of hard work. Lotte is also faced with the constant fear and uncertainly of possible consequences when the war is over and the Allied forces are trying to round up all involved in the Nazi Party because a membership to the party wasn’t the same as being involved in the Party.

I was drawn to Lotte and her story, her life so different from anything I could imagine; born in a time where young women of good breeding saved themselves for marriage and were always on the look out for a suitable match, not necessarily a meeting of hearts.

The characters are vibrant and well drawn with stories that captivated as well as horrified me. Heinrich, the fiance, is an affluent young man who is used to getting his own way and he annoyed me from the outset. He knew what he wanted and what was expected and dismissed Lotte’s desires and dreams as frivolous because they didn’t fit with his plans. It was a stark contrast with her superior at work Oberinspektor Erich Drescher who listened, respected and valued the work she did to keep their department flowing.

The Girl From Munich follows Lotte from 1943 through the end of the war and beyond. There is a sequel being worked on and I look forward to seeing what is next for Lotte.

I really enjoyed this look at life in Hitler’s Germany and a completely new perspective of World War Two. Tania Blanchard writes a compelling tale that left me invested in the characters and looking forward to more of her work.

The Girl from Munich is published by Simon & Schuster and is available now from Angus & Robertson Bookworld, Booktopia and where all good books are sold.

Thanks to Simon & Schuster 10 of our Beauty and Lace Club members will be reading The Girl From Munich so please be aware there may be spoilers in the comments below.

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10 thoughts on “Book Club: The Girl From Munich

  1. Thankyou Beautyandlace and Simon&Schuster for the opportunity to review ‘The Girl from Munich’ by Tania Blanchard.
    Set in 1943, at 18years old, Charlotte (Lotte) from a privileged upbringing is living in Munchen a town in Germany. She has studied for work as a photojournalist and is engaged to Heinrich who is also from a similar class and is studying to become a doctor.
    Because of it being wartime she has to give up her photography dream and through her stepfather Johann becomes a personal assistant to Erich an aeronautic engineer.
    She has lost two brothers to the war and her mother is very protective and possessive of her.
    The book takes us through to 1945 and beyond as we follow Lotte’s life.

    This was a wonderful book, one it was difficult to stop reading as I just wanted to know what happened next.
    I really enjoyed all the German words (easy to understand as the words are similar to English), and learnt so much about how the war affected everyday German citizens.
    It was easy to see that Tania had through her family, become familiar with these wartime experiences.

    I’m very much looking forward to Tania’s next book which is to be set ithe 1950’s in Australia.
    She’s a great author and one which I will be following.

  2. Thank you Beauty and lace and Simon & Schuster for the opportunity to review ‘The Girl from Munich’ by Tania Blanchard.

    In one word, WOW. What an amazing book.

    Earlier this year I did a Literature subject at Uni. One of the assignments was to produce a personal literacy portfolio. In doing this, I discovered that the books I am most often drawn to are historical novels set during either WW1 or WW2. I also discovered that each and every one of these books that I have read were written from the perspective of the allied forces. My challenge to myself was to find a book written from the perspective of a German. I was not disappointed with ’The Girl from Munich’.

    It was such an eye opening experience to see how the German’s suffered in such a similar way to the Allied forces. The hopes, fears and hardships are so similar. It was also great to be able to understand how the German’s were deceived by Hitler. It makes a lot more sense to me how the world got into such a terrible state.

    One thing I would be very interested to know is, how much of the story is fact and how much is fiction? Tania Blanchard says that the book was inspired by stories from her Grandmother.

    A truely unique, insightful and enjoyable read. Thank you Tania Blanchard.

  3. A fascinating and , as it is predominantly set in WW2Germany, frightening novel.
    I have to relieve myself of the negatives before I go on to it’s positives. There are many cliches here which are cringeworthy. To be honest it could have done with another solid edit. That is more the Editor and Publishers’ fault than the Writers’ but disappointing none the less. As one of the supposed Big 5 publishing houses I would think they should do much better by the readers who pay good money for books and their writers.
    Now, having said that, total respect for every character who went through that dreadful ordeal. How the war experience affected some was vibrantly shown.
    Some of the male dialogue seemed a little far fetched but we weren’t reading a ‘true’ story were we?
    I was emotionally invested in the main character Lotte and her family. A unique war story and from an eye that I had never known- that being from the German side. The story was astounding and totally believable although I doubt *SPOILER ALERT*!the ‘Americans’ were as perfect as it was made out.
    **SPOILER ALERT OVER **Not a great book but a good enough book. I just wish the publisher/editor hadn’t let ‘the side down’ by not making it as remarkable as it should have been.

  4. The Girl from Munich by Tania Blanchard is set in Germany during and at the end of the war.
    Charlotte is engaged to her childhood sweetheart Heinrich, although their mothers seem to be doing all the planning of the wedding. She is proud of her country and Hitler, but as the story progresses, and Germany’s domination of the war is failing, she begins to doubt her faith in her beliefs.

    Her fiance has to join in the fighting and is missing for a long time. Lotte has to flee to the country with her boss, and they become attracted to each other.

    The story gives us an insight into Germany during the war, while also creating an interesting story between the characters in the book, and keeps the reader wondering how things will turn out for everyone.

    I enjoyed the book and thanks to Beauty and Lace Book Club and Simon and Schuster for the opportunity to read and review.

  5. This was a lovely story. There are so many novels about WWII but this one takes a slightly different angle by telling it from the side of the rich German people. It was interesting what they went through and without spoiling the plot for others, I’m sure Tania Blanchard experienced one part of the story personally (childbirth not the war) it was so vividly described. While the main character Charlotte frustrated me with the decisions she made, I can only imagine that her actions were just human nature when trying to survive day to day during and after the war.

  6. Thank you Simon & Schuster and the Beauty & Lace Book Club for the opportunity to read this book.

    As a first novel for Tania Blanchard I am delighted to say this is an extraordinarily emotive read, a book that has fast become a favourite of mine.

    Set in Munchen (Munich) at the break of World War II, Charlotte (Lotte) is a young 18 year old lady who is engaged to her childhood friend Heinrich, a seemingly suitable union between two wealthy families, much orchestrated by the mothers who are very keen for a society wedding. Lotte & Heinrich love each other deeply as best friends but as WWII breaks and they are separated, Lotte works for the Luftwaffe and Heinrich is sent to the front line. This indefinite separation, the horrific events of wartime and the devastation of their country leaves Lotte re-evaluating her life and future, a future orchestrated by a loving but desperate mother with little regard for Lotte’s hopes and dreams.

    The wartime experiences of German residents has certainly been very interesting to learn about, The horrifying events, physical tolls, and the emotional difficulties of trying to survive, believing in the Fuhrer and then questioning all that they had been led to believe must have been a very difficult time for them all. Tania Blanchard suggests this is a story based on her own family history and knowing this really brings home the personal attachment to these characters.

    I commend Tania for a well written book and very much look forward to reading the sequel.

  7. This is the story of Lotte (Charlotte). She is promised to one man, her best friend, a doctor that her mother approves of. However WWII intervenes and she falls for an older man, a married man her boss. As cheesey as the premise is, through the lens of setting; the fall of Germany, the story shows great depth.
    I disliked the flighty Lotte initially and the way she is portrayed, swooning for every man that cross’s her path. However that changes further into the story, ultimately when Lotte stands up to her mother who desperately attempts to change her mind back to marrying her childhood sweetheart Heinrich, instead of the older, already married, Erich.
    The setting of the story intervenes in all of their lives, telling the story of the German experience during the final months of the war and how the Nazi’s impacted on their own people. This is by far the most interesting part of the book, having never read any of the ‘other sides’ perspective previously. The most interesting part I found, being the fear of the Red Army and hoping that every convoy is American due to their perceived kindness.
    Whilst this story took a while for me to get into, as not so much a romance fan and more a historical fiction fan, it got its hooks into me about half way through and am now eagerly anticipating the story of their lives in Australia.

    Thank you B&L for the opportunity to review.

  8. The Girl from Munich by Tania Blanchard was an amazing book which I could not put down. It is set in Germany during WW11 and is told from the perspective of wealthy Germans. I have read books from the perspective of wealthy German Jews, but not non-Jews.
    It was interesting to see Lotte’s perspective of Hitler, whom she looked up to and admired. As the story progressed she, and others began to realise he was not perfect. The author made this part of the story, telling of how highly the people thought of the Fuhrer. It explained in part how they were ignorant of what was happening. The story is complex and has many themes running through it. Exploring the expected subservient role of women to men it shows how men believed it their duty to decide womens lives.
    Lotte is torn between marrying her childhood sweetheart, a wealthy man with a profession, or going with her lover, a low born, poor man. She chooses the second and her life is harsh and difficult. This part of the book is a ‘true love’ story.
    At times I became frustrated with the characters. Lotte’s mother, who had also had a difficult life, had some form of mental illness but her behaviour and lack of support for her daughter was difficult for me to comprehend..
    Lotte’s husband decides they can no longer survive in Germany. This leads into what will be a sequel when they migrate to Australia. I will be buying this as soonas it is released.
    The author based the book on stories told by her German grandmother. This gives it authenticity.

  9. Thank you to Simon & Schuster and Beauty and Lace for the opportunity to read and review this book.

    I am passionate about historical fiction and found this to be a very interesting read. Winston Churchill said ‘History is written by the victors’, and this quote came to mind whilst I was reading The Girl from Munich. 99% of what I have read about World War II came from the perspective of the Allies so it was intriguing to read something written from the point of view of a German citizen.

    Whilst not necessarily an average German citizen due to the social status of her family, Lotte (and her family) were able to shed more light on the thought process of those fighting on ‘the other side’. Tania Blanchard showed the true influence of leaders like Hitler and how he really did have the gift of public speaking.

    Whilst I do not agree with Hitler’s ideologies or actions in any way, it was eye opening to see how the German public saw the war and they believed he would lead them to victory. Of course with hindsight I could ‘read the writing on the wall’, but I believe Tania captured the thoughts of Lotte well.

    I look forward to reading the sequel hinted at and other stories by this author.

    N.B. all comments are relating to the story and are not meant to offend anyone or generalise any nationalities.

  10. Thank you Beauty and Lace for sending this book out for review. I was excited to read a story from the perspective of a German during the War as I feel like I’ve never been exposed to something that wasn’t written from the Allies perspective.
    Also… gorgeous cover!
    Lotte is a wonderful main protagonist, she’s bold, ambitious and loyal to her family. It tells of her journey throughout the ending years of the war and the fall of Hitlers reign, working for the military, the story of her families experiences and growing up as a woman.
    I loved her character growth, from leaving her childhood love and betrothed to finding love with Erich, and the battle they go through to prove their relationship to both their families.
    I enjoyed every moment of this story it was written wonderfully, my only dislike was with how quickly the book wrapped up and set what looks to be the potential for a sequel set in Australia. It felt really rushed, or like the author was trying to sneak it in within her word limit, and to me it felt like it came out of nowhere and didn’t add to the journey we had just experienced with Lotte.

    However despite that I would definitely read the sequel, and I rated this book 4/5 stars on Goodreads when I finished it back in September. `

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