White Rose, Black Forest – Eoin Dempsey – Full House Reading Challenge

Genre: Historical  Fiction

Narrative Style: Two third person narratives that alternate. 

Rating: 2/5

Published: 2018 (Kindle First Purchase)

Format: Kindle

Synopsis: Franka is about to end her own life when she discovers the broken body of a German pilot in the snowy forest outside her family cabin. Instead of committing suicide, she manages to get his body back to the cabin and begins to nurse him. But all is not what it seems. Why does he cry out in English in his sleep?  Who is this man and will Franka be able to trust him? 

Reading Challenges: Full House Reading Challenge – Genre Dual Time Line. 

This was a Kindle First purchase. It sounded interesting, claimed to be based on a true story and had some good reviews so I went for it, despite having read some not so great books through Kindle First. This was no exception.

The story starts from Franka’s point of view. She is wandering through the forest, looking for a spot in which to commit suicide. However, instead she stumbles across the body of an Luftwaffe pilot, still alive but badly injured. She finds herself with a moral dilemma. Should she save the pilot or not, given her ambivalence about the war?

Fairly quickly, we are given the idea that all is not what it seems and the pilot may be a spy. This only furthers the moral issues for Franka, for while she does not approve of the Nazis, she also had issues with the allies who had killed her father in a bombing raid. Nevertheless, she decides that she cannot leave him to die and by some feat of superhuman strength manages to get him back to the cabin.

This was the first time – but not the last – that I felt my incredulity stretched to the limit. How would this one woman manage to move a badly injured pilot and  his heavy kitbag through the snowstorm. Everything is set up just a bit too neatly for my liking.

Then we start to get the story from the pilot, John’s,  point of view. Naturally, he is wary of Franka even though she claims to hate the Nazis, he thinks it is an elaborate plot.  After all, how likely was it that he had fallen precisely into the hands of a nazi hater. I thought it unlikely too but as it was based on a true story, I let it go. After all, strange coincidences do happen. However, when I finished reading this I was curious to know exactly what these events were and it transpires that John and Franka were made up by Dempsey and the ‘true’ elements were the situation in Germany at the time and the details of the White Rose movement. By that logic, all historical fiction could say it was based on a true story.

Over the course of the book, the pair share stories and start to trust each other. Neither story fully convinced although the darker details of Franka’s story were suitably disturbing. In fact, neither character really worked for me. They never truly escaped their stereotypes e.g. the good German and the American hero. As the book continued, the details just got more and more ridiculous and I found the ending particularly irritating. I guess I’m just not enough of a romantic to appreciate this sort of book.

 

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