Clara Vine is a half English, half German film actress, making films in Germany during the rise of Hitler, under the scrutiny and suspicion of Goebbels, who thinks she is spying for England. Which she is. And her latest assignment given to her by undercover agent Guy Hamilton is to befriend and extract secrets from Eva Braun, Hitler’s girlfriend, that they hope will open up intelligence on his state of mind. But things move faster than anyone was anticipating, and Clara finds herself in the middle of more and more dangerous situations.
I was drawn into this novel to the start, and read it very quickly. We see not only Clara’s perspective but that of a few other characters, whose stories end up weaving into this too. The setting is tense, and Clara is a pleasing and easy to like character. The plot ends up pleasing, but is rather strange in how it comes about.
In Real Teen Reviews I interview my 15-year-old marvel of a sister about books that I’ve made her read. This story of Hitler’s fictional niece who defies Nazi-ism is the second one and I’m pleased to say she’s enjoying the process so far! For my thoughts and a summary of Prisoner of Night and Fog go to my original post here.
My first feedback came in the form of seeing her disappear into the book for a few hours, then two days later by text.
Gretchen’s father sacrificed himself to save Hitler, and so her family has lived in his favour ever since. But when a stranger questions her father’s death everything Gretchen believes is turned upside down and she is determined to find the truth. Helped by the strangely kind Jew Daniel her quest, hindered by her distant and strange brother and her changing relationship with Hitler and the powerful National Socialist party, leads her to bold and subversive ideas that change her life forever.
Will we ever tire of stories of the wars and of Hitler? I don’t know – but I certainly haven’t. Set in Munich as Hitler’s power rises, Gretchen’s position as an honorary-niece gives a unique perspective of his personality and the tensions of Germany in the period. But really it is Gretchen and her story that is the focus; and this is fascinating in itself. Add in the ever-popular topic of the beginnings of psychoanalysis and you’ve got a winner!