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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
The Girl from Berlin: Standartenführer's Wife is an historical novel written by Ellie Midwood. When she was growing up, Annalise Meissner was not interested in going to school with the other children her age. She’d much rather practice her pirouettes and dance in the square, but somehow, Gryselda, the family’s housekeeper, knew her preferences and made sure she was safely back in school. Annalise was really much more comfortable with adults than children her own age, and she loved being with the grownups in her life. Her perfect world had some strange aspects to it, however, such as the talk her father had with her and her brother, Norbert, when she was nine years old. The Meissners were not really the Aryans she had always believed them to be, but rather they were originally from Poland and were Ashkenazi Jews. Her father’s grandparents had seen troubles coming and had changed the family’s name and converted to Protestantism to protect the family and their assets. Still, as Annalise was growing up in the comfort of the family’s upper middle class lifestyle, the treatment of the Jews in the increasingly intolerant conditions in Germany during the 1930s was troubling, especially considering her beloved family doctor, his son who would become her dance partner, and the other Jewish people she cared so much about were in deadly peril while her life continued unchanged.
Ellie Midwood’s historical novel, The Girl from Berlin: Standartenführer's Wife, is a fast-paced and utterly enthralling novel that chronicles the years leading up to World War II through the eyes of a young ballerina, Annalise Meissner. This novel is meticulously researched, and Annalise’s story is so compelling that I became totally engrossed in her life and experiences. Midwood is a master at blending fact and fiction in such a way that I was often tempted to revisit my history books to see which characters were historical personages and which were not. Her writing is seamless and inspired, and I soon forgot that an author was actually the creative force behind Annalise’s words. I was quite pleased to discover that Midwood plans a sequel to this story, Gruppenfuhrer’s Mistress. The Girl from Berlin: Standartenführer's Wife is highly recommended.