It's 1935. Rita Feuerstahl comes to the university in Krakow intent on enjoying her freedom. But life has other things in store - marriage, a love affair, a child, all in the shadows of the oncoming war. When the war arrives, Rita is armed with a secret so enormous that it could cost the Allies everything, even as it gives her the will to live. She must find a way both to keep her secret and to survive amid the chaos of Europe at war. Living by her wits among the Germans as their conquests turn to defeat, she seeks a way to prevent the inevitable doom of Nazism from making her one of its last victims. Can her passion and resolve outlast the most powerful evil that Europe has ever seen?
In an epic saga that spans from Paris in the '30s and Spain's Civil War to Moscow, Warsaw, and the heart of Nazi Germany, The Girl from Krakow follows one woman's battle for survival as entire nations are torn apart, never to be the same.
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overall the story was well done but ...
History, Philosophy and Bodice-Ripping Sex
That may sound like a recommendation. It's not. Only after finishing this book did I look up the author's credentials. What do you know. A first novel by a philosopher. The philosophy is in fact the draggiest part. Descriptions of all of the locations and political intrigues are written as if regurgitated from deep research, so deep that the typical reader can't follow. I knew about the POUM only because I had just read a long New Yorker review of a book about the Spanish Civil War. So it's an anti-Stalinist party of former Trotskyists. If that had anything important to do with the character who flights in Spain, maybe it was worth bringing it up. But no, just another complication, without justification. And the sex. These scenes would qualify for worst sex scenes ever: who talks about "labia" in good writing about sex? And Rita, the main character, is portrayed as a "free spirit," which means in this book she sleeps with everyone who is unlikely, while still remaining pure where it is likely. The situations are a stretch. People pop up all over Europe. and then suddenly can speak Catalan, Russian, English, Polish, German -- just out of the blue. And speak well enough not to be recognized. AND, the "dramatic" situations are in fact so unlikely -- with a lot of foreshadowing about what a terrible mistake is being made, but it comes down to the smallest, most unconvincing slip, like asking "Are there still a lot of Jews in Berlin?" A question anyone might have asked under Nazi rule without having a bigot immediately decide they are Jewish.
Just terrible. And the narrator sounds so pompous, and his American accent is so wrong, it just added to the unpleasant experience.
Blah! This was a bargain book of the day, which is going to make me dubious about any other special offers, unless they are of classics.
Be afraid. Be very afraid.