• The Bossy Bookworm

Review of The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck

ICYMI: Shattuck offers faulted protagonists and a fascinating, complicated set of factors in her World War II historical fiction.

Jessica Shattuck's The Women in the Castle felt different to me than many of the other World War II books I've read. Her historical fiction story hooked me.

For me, much of the story’s depth lay in its exploration of conflicting elements of morality and necessity, and of the play between ignorance and damning knowledge.

The desire for redemption is powerful. Shattuck poses the question: Can love redeem past horrors? If a person pleads ignorance or credits terrible actions to the power of fear, can such acts ever be pardoned? Can a person--or a nation--ever truly move on from evil? (Or does moving forward from horrors sometimes feel unforgivably easy?)

The female protagonists in Shattuck's tale are far from perfect. They're trying to cobble together their lives during and after World War II, and the tone and the angle of The Women in the Castle offered a new-to-me angle on the events and surrounding circumstances of the time.

I listened to the audiobook, and Cassandra Campbell was wonderful as the narrator.

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For more World War II stories, check out the titles on the Greedy Reading List Six Great Stories about Brave Women During World War II and search the blog for many other World War II titles.