2020 Reviews · historical fiction · World War II

Book Review: The German Midwife by Mandy Robotham

Title: The German Midwife

Author: Mandy Robotham

Published: August 5th 2020

Publisher: Avon GB -HarperCollins Books Australia

Pages: 368

Genres:  Fiction, Historical

RRP: $29.99

Rating: 5 stars

An enthralling new tale of courage, betrayal and survival in the hardest of circumstances that readers of The Tattooist of Auschwitz, The Secret Orphan and The Man Who Broke into Auschwitz will love.

Germany, 1944. A prisoner in the camps, Anke Hoff is doing what she can to keep her pregnant campmates and their newborns alive.

But when Anke’s work is noticed, she is chosen for a task more dangerous than she could ever have imagined. Eva Braun is pregnant with the Führer’s child, and Anke is assigned as her midwife.

Before long, Anke is faced with an impossible choice. Does she serve the Reich she loathes and keep the baby alive? Or does she sacrifice an innocent child for the good of a broken world?

∗Published in the UK as A Woman of War∗

Review:

The German Midwife is the debut historical fiction release from Mandy Robotham, also published under the title A Woman of War. The German Midwife is a powerful, affecting and unforgettable novel presenting an intriguing historical possibility – that Hitler had a child by Eva Braun. Speculative, thought provoking and heartbreaking, The German Midwife is an engrossing tale that enthralls from page one.

Two concurrent narratives running from 1939 through to 1944 forms The German Midwife. Mandy Robotham’s novel reveals the heart wrenching story of Anke Hoff, a midwife who is imprisoned in the notorious Ravensbrück concentration camp during the war. Anke tries hard to conceal her midwifery skills from the guards at the camp, but she cannot help but intervene when her fellow campmates find themselves in trouble while giving birth. Anke’s special gift in bringing babies into the world attracts the attention of the camp officials, who issue Anke with the care of Hilter’s unborn child by Eva Braun. This dangerous situation thrusts Anke in the pathway of possible freedom, love and difficult moral choices. Anke faces her most challenging case yet in tending to the birth of the Führer’s child.

I was fortunate enough to pick up The German Midwife by Mandy Robotham, directly following my experience of Robotham’s latest release, The Berlin Girl. The German Midwife was recommended to me by a like minded reader. The German Midwife was a great book to close my reading year on, a solid five-star rating followed my experience with this unforgettable novel.

Drawing on her first-hand experiences as a practicing midwife, Mandy Robotham has fully utilised her knowledge, skills and expertise to craft a deeply authentic novel. I felt all the situations involving the birth scenarios, the expectant mothers and the after birth care Robotham’s lead protagonist offered was precise. All the situations presented involving birthing were incredibly vivid and I felt like an assistant nurse to Anke at many points of the novel. Robotham’s prose has a way of drawing you right in so that you feel the emotion and angst connected to the different experiences put forward in this affective historical composition.

With so many historical fiction novels out there focused on Hitler’s reign, it is getting harder and harder to surprise readers with an original premise. However, The German Midwife did manage to distinguish itself from other books of this genre on offer. I really connected to the interesting scenario put forward by Robotham, that Hitler’s mistress and eventual wife birthed his child. I haven’t come across a story that has presented this ‘what if’ scenario before, so I fully appreciated Robotham’s creative reimagining. The situation put forward did seem very plausible and not fantasy based at all. Robotham’s approach which intertwines real-life figures with a fictional cast worked extremely well in my opinion. I was really taken in by the lead Anke, a pillar of strength who displayed courage and empathy in the face of great adversity. I also loved the sense of friendship, comradery and the gentle touch of romance experienced by the lead. It made The German Midwife a compelling story.

The German Midwife succeeds in highlighting the female experience of war. This comes from the lead as the pioneering medical saviour, through to the wide-eyed Eva Braun, to female friends made in the camp and at Hitler’s abode. We see the good side of human nature in the war, through the many heroic and selfless acts performed by the cast, which is juxtaposed with the awful atrocities inflicted on the innocent through the barbaric Nazi regime. The war never ceases to shock and appall me, so The German Midwife is an essential text in my eyes, despite it taking the form of a fictional set piece.

With an emotional final turn of events, complete with a shock twist to the matter of Hitler’s child, Mandy Robotham’s tale is absolutely gripping from cover to cover. I give The German Midwife my highest recommendation, it is an indispensable read for all historical fiction fans.

The German Midwife by Mandy Robotham was published on 5th August 2020 by Avon – GB. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.

To learn more about the author of The German Midwife, Mandy Robotham visit here.

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