June's Room


Those Who Save Us

Those Who Save Us - Jenna Blum I could hardly bear to put this book down..I really enjoyed it, although as another reviewer here said, perhaps 'enjoyed' isn't quite the right word to use about such a dark subject as the Holocaust.
This book looks at the war through the eyes of a German woman,Anna.We begin in her later years as she buries her American husband..nobody comes to the house after the funeral..with him gone she is once again 'the enemy' in her small american town. Some time afterwards she enters a care home but events force her to leave and to move in with her middle aged daughter,Trudy.
Trudy has a difficult relationship with her mother. Anna is to a large extent closed off from her and will not discuss what happened before they came to America when Trudy was just three years old, although Trudy has vague memories of a man she believes to have been her father. A man whose photograph she has seen hidden in a silver case at the back of her mothers' drawer- a man in SS uniform.
The story takes us back and forth between the present day,(in which Trudy, a Professor of German History..is undertaking a project to look at the way in which ordinary german citizens acted during the war) and the war ,when Anna, under the nose of her tyrannical nazi-supporting father,hides and falls in love with a jewish doctor. He is subsequently discovered and taken away , but not before Anna becomes pregnant.
She is forced to leave home and works in a local bakery where she assists the owner in passing messages and food to and from prisoners in the nearby camp. She catches the eye of a German officer, ultimately becoming his mistress in a bid to survive and protect Trudy. When the Americans finally come, he flees, leaving the two of them to fend for themselves.
An American GI takes pity and falls for her,marrying her and taking them back to America. He is a good stepfather to Trudy and Anna tries to be a good wife, but she is forever shadowed by the guilt at what she has done and a sense of loss for her jewish lover.She resolves never to speak of it again.
Trudy's project, however, becomes a source of fascination for Anna,and ultimately it leads to long -buried secrets finally being uncovered..

I found the wartime sections of this book riveting, albeit heart rending and brutal at times. The present day sections look at Trudy's own relationships,in particular with her jewish lover, and how her life has been coloured by her mistaken belief about who she is..

I was sorry to finish this..