No Woman's Land

A Holocaust Novel

Fiction - Historical - Event/Era
277 Pages
Reviewed on 05/24/2019
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Joel R. Dennstedt for Readers' Favorite

The first and most important thing to say about Ellie Midwood, and by extension her intensely appealing historical novel No Woman’s Land: A Holocaust Novel, is that this author’s fine writing skills are superbly well honed. Any seasoned reader will immediately recognize a master at her craft, one both naturally gifted and creatively experienced, while the deepest pleasure desired by any avid reader, that derived from fully inhabiting a truly gripping, fascinating, and compelling story, rapidly seeps into a last conscious thought: I can relax now. With such good writing, I can sit here, without effort, and thoroughly enjoy a marvelous ride.

One is obligated to convey the plot of No Woman’s Land; the story of a young German/Jewish woman who suffers the terrors of the Holocaust as already told by many others, one who falls in love with her unanticipated warden/protector with whom, eventually, she plans an escape. But that tells you nothing of the wonder of this book, unless one also shares why Ellie Midwood’s writing creates such a compelling story and truly exceptional novel. Ms. Midwood’s writing is intensely evocative, bringing vividly to life a time and place seen with stark reality by those fated to be there and then. This author has a deeply satisfying sense of the dramatic, choosing perfect details to augment her action, with a perfect ear for dialogue, and an ultra-keen eye for descriptive detail. Add to this her retention of a commonly and rapidly fading ability to write complex sentences without sacrificing readability or flow, and as I said, you have a master at her craft. With a truly grand novel to her credit.

K.C. Finn

No Woman’s Land is a harrowing and dramatic work of historical fiction penned by author Ellie Midwood, which focuses on the Holocaust and the events surrounding it. Based on a real-life story, the plot centers on the love story of German Jew Ilse Stein and the Luftwaffe Captain Willy Schultz. As the harassment and racial persecution of the Jewish race intensify during the Second World War, the ghetto-bound Ilse joins a local resistance force to help protect and avenge those she has loved and lost. But when she catches the eye of Willy Schultz, things get complicated, and the Nazi officer finds himself making difficult choices to be with the woman he truly loves.

This is a superb love story and compelling human drama set amid some of the vilest atrocities the world has ever witnessed. Recommended for adults due to the dark content and some sexual scenes, this deep drama will please both romance and history fans in equal measure. Author Ellie Midwood commits every scene to a detailed treatment of historical fact, illuminating the harrowing life of living in the Sonderghetto and the immense pressure of working on the Nazi payroll. Times are tense and tough, but the romance blossoms with beautiful clarity and innocence despite the danger looming all around it. As the time comes for Ilse’s ghetto to be ‘removed’, the true power of the author’s narrative comes to startling life, making No Woman’s Land one of the most powerful pieces of wartime fiction I’ve ever read. A truly excellent read.

Viga Boland

When you flunk high school history, it’s a sure sign history isn’t your thing. But then along comes an incredible book like No Woman’s Land, a novel based on the Holocaust by Ellie Midwood, and even a non-history fan like me is unable to put it down. Midwood has succeeded where all my history teachers failed: she grabbed my attention and held it as she shared the love story of two people who were never supposed to love each other: Ilse Stern, a German Jew, and Willy Schultz, a Luftwaffe Captain. And yes, these two people did exist and those are their real names. Several of the other characters named in No Woman’s Land also existed.

But while the beautifully delivered love story was as touching as it gets, it was Midwood’s riveting descriptions of the inhumanity of the SS to the German and Russian Jews that made me choke up. Sure, I’ve seen plenty of documentaries and films based on that horrible time in history, but somehow Midwood’s graphic details shocked me more. Perhaps it was because she helped us “see” the actual abuse and slaughter through Ilse’s eyes. As a reader, I felt I was watching the nearly frozen Jewish women lugging wood to heat the German officers’ offices. I could better see that German officer who liked children tossing them candies in the death pits while they waited to be massacred. And I could better feel Ilse’s own hopelessness as she and her suffering women friends faced each new day wondering if this was their last. What a horrid way to live month after month for no reason other than you are a Jew. Haunting and mind-blowing!

If stories about the Holocaust are on your bucket list, make sure you add No Woman’s Land to it immediately. Ellie Midwood has thoroughly researched her subject and characters to bring truth into fiction. This author knows how to deliver an unforgettable and haunting novel based on reality.