Monday, November 21, 2016

Book Review of The Kommandant's Girl by Pam Jenoff

Goodreads Summary: Nineteen-year-old Emma Bau has been married only three weeks when Nazi tanks thunder into her native Poland. Within days Emma's husband, Jacob, is forced to disappear underground, leaving her imprisoned within the city's decrepit, moldering Jewish ghetto. But then, in the dead of night, the resistance smuggles her out. Taken to Krakow to live with Jacob's Catholic aunt, Krysia, Emma takes on a new identity as Anna Lipowski, a gentile. Emma's already precarious situation is complicated by her introduction to Kommandant Richwalder, a high-ranking Nazi official who hires her to work as his assistant. Urged by the resistance to use her position to access details of the Nazi occupation, Emma must compromise her safety—and her marriage vows—in order to help Jacob's cause. As the atrocities of war intensify, so does Emma's relationship with the Kommandant, building to a climax that will risk not only her double life, but also the lives of those she loves.

Goodreads rating: 3.91 with over 9,000 ratings
Genre Listing: Historical Fiction, World War II, Romance, Poland Culture, Jewish Literature
Get the Book: AmazonBook Depository
Book Haul: June 4, 2016
Book Challenge: Pop Sugar Challenge, 12/40


Book Review:

Mmm. Historical Fiction. I don't know what it is about stories that take place in former time, but they just enthrall me completely. The Kommandant's Girl was no exception to this. It did, however, take me a little bit to get into this book. I was interested in it, but the way it starts has a lot of different timelines of Emma's life that were brought up all at once. I found it incredibly hard to follow.

Once the timeline issue is straightened out, it was a lot easier to be drawn into the story. Pam Jenoff does an excellent job at playing at the reader's emotions. I felt myself feeling what Emma/Anna was feeling, and I was anxious to see when all of her secrets were going to be revealed. I thought it was intriguing how she lost touch with her real identity and just became Anna. It ended up being weird to her to be called Emma.

I appreciate that this went beyond just a historical romance novel. It also included some espionage, which was a nice touch. I would have liked to see more spying from Emma/Anna. While I was reading it felt like there was a lot of spy work, but now that I've finished the book and had time to think about it, I realize it wasn't that much.  What she did do was minimal and came across as rather easy. It seemed like it was more of an excuse to justify her relationship with the Kommandant.

The sequence of events in this story seemed to ultimately always go Emma/Anna's way, whether she realized it or not. Everything lined up just a little too perfectly. She never really had to solve her problems, they just seemingly settled themselves or were dealt with by the resistance. I would have liked to see her become her own person and been less of a pawn in her story. She was either moved by the Resistance or the Kommandant. I didn't get the feeling that she ever made her own decisions.

I think for Pam Jenoff's first novel it was an entertaining book. I just wish it would have been a little more polished and included some surprises. For the most part, I felt like it was kind of predictable and was following a formula. It would have been far more interesting if she had gotten caught while spying on the Kommandant and had to get her out of the situation. I felt like what was suppose to be the big twist in the love triangle wasn't surprising at all. I figured it out very early in the story, and I feel like it's pretty typical in most stories involving a love triangle. What did surprise me was how the love triangle ultimately ended, but again it wasn't anything that Emma/Anna did.





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