The Whispers of War by Julia Kelly
I own every book that Julia Kelly has ever published, including those she has published under the name Julia Blake. I am very excited to have been added to Julia's ARC team!
The Whispers of War is a World War II historical fiction novel that examines the impact of the war on a group rarely discussed in history: German immigrants living in Allied nations. As Germany was the aggressor in the conflict and responsible for heinous crimes against humanity, especially the Jewish population, few have endeavored to write a novel with a German protagonist. Julia Kelly does so in a sensitive and eloquent manner.
Marie, a German immigrant living in London, England, has lived in London since childhood. Sent away to an English boarding school by her parents, Marie decided to remain in the country with her aunt and uncle, even after graduating. When Germany invades Poland, starting the war, Marie fears for her safety and her freedom. She abhors Germany's actions and fears the Nazi regime. In World War I, the English had rounded up all German immigrants and put them into internment camps, and Marie fears that the government may decide it is necessary to do so again with the current conflict.
The story is told in parts from four different viewpoints. I felt that this structure was effective and easy to follow. At the very beginning, we read from Samantha's point of view in the present day. Samantha is Marie's granddaughter, who has traveled to London to visit Marie's dear friend Nora a year after Marie has passed away. We will hear from Samantha intermittently as Nora imparts Marie's history, preceding each new section of the book. The first section is told from Marie's point of view in autumn of 1939. The second section is told from Marie and Nora's friend Hazel's point of view, covering the winter of 1939 to 1940, and the third is told from Nora's point of view in the spring of 1940. Experiencing Marie's strife through each of these close friends' points of views establishes their unwavering bond and their dedication to Marie's safety and freedom.
I have a minor in history with a focus on World War II history, and I was never aware of the conditions that German immigrants faced living in the internment camps. In America, we hear much about the Japanese internment camps in the United States. Any mention of Germans being rounded up into camps was in passing, never being thoroughly examined. Julia Kelly shines light on a part of history that has not been widely acknowledged or taught.
For those who have read Julia Kelly/Julia Blake's other titles, this story has minimal romance. Romance is a minor element in the book, despite Hazel's occupation as a matchmaker. The story is more about the bond of friendship, the emerging empowerment of women of the era, and revealing the impact of this little-known historical event. Elements of xenophobia, misogyny, discrimination, and abuse of authority are powerfully yet gracefully portrayed.
My favorite sections were those of Marie, Hazel, and Nora. I felt that Samantha’s chapters could have been given a bit more attention. Things seem to move very quickly in her chapters, especially with David. Other than that, The Whispers of War was a fantastic read, and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in historical fiction or women’s fiction.
Thank you to NetGalley and Julia Kelly for providing me with a free digital review copy in exchange for an honest review. Additionally, thank you to Gallery Books for providing me with a free hardcover edition, which will look absolutely stunning on my bookshelf.
#thewhispersofwar #juliakelly #netgalley #gallerybooks
Audience: adult, young adult
Trigger warnings: xenophobia, misogyny
Recommended for fans of: historical fiction, WWII historical fiction, women's fiction
The start of World War II looms over three friends who struggle to remain loyal as one of them is threatened with internment by the British government, from the author of the “sweeping, stirring” (Kristin Harmel, internationally bestselling author of The Room on Rue Amélie) The Light Over London.
In August of 1939, as Britain watches the headlines in fear of another devastating war with Germany, three childhood friends must choose between friendship or country. Erstwhile socialite Nora is determined to find her place in the Home Office’s Air Raid Precautions Department, matchmaker Hazel tries to mask two closely guarded secrets with irrepressible optimism, and German expat Marie worries that she and her family might face imprisonment in an internment camp if war is declared. When Germany invades Poland and tensions on the home front rise, Marie is labeled an enemy alien, and the three friends find themselves fighting together to keep her free at any cost.
Featuring Julia Kelly’s signature “intricate, tender, and convincing” (Publishers Weekly) prose, The Whispers of War is a moving and unforgettable tale of the power of friendship and womanhood in the midst of conflict.
Julia Kelly's ARC Team, Gallery Books, NetGalley
©Gallery Books: January 14, 2020
Edition: Kindle ARC, Hardcover finished copy
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