- Series: The Kommandant's Girl (Book 1)
- Paperback: 400 pages
- Publisher: MIRA; Advance Uncorrected Proofs edition (February 20, 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0778323420
- ISBN-13: 978-0778323426
- Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 1 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars See all reviews (278 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #192,118 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Kommandant's Girl Paperback – February 20, 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. With luminous simplicity, Jenoff's breathtaking debut chronicles the life of a young Jewish bride during the Nazi occupation of Kraków, Poland, in WWII. Emma Bau, a shy librarian, escapes the city's Jewish ghetto with the aid of the underground resistance movement that Jacob, her activist husband, has already joined. Emma assumes a new gentile identity as Anna Lipowski and goes to live with Jacob's elderly aunt, a wealthy Catholic widow who has also taken in Lukasz Izakowicz, the only surviving child of a famous rabbi and his murdered wife. As Anna, Emma catches the eye of Kommandant Georg Richwalder, second in charge of the General Government, at a dinner party. The handsome Nazi is so impressed by her German language skills (and her beauty) that he asks her to become his personal assistant. Emma accepts, hoping to secure valuable information for the resistance, but the chemistry between them presents challenges that test her loyalties to Jacob and her heart. This is historical romance at its finest. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Emma had lived in the closed orthodox Jewish community of Krakow, Poland, until she began working at the university library and met Jacob. He sweeps her off her feet, and they marry on the eve of the Nazi invasion. Jacob immediately leaves to join the Jewish underground, and Emma returns to her family, now locked in the Jewish ghetto. Jacob provides false papers, enabling Emma to become Anna Lipowski and move in with his Catholic aunt Krysia, posing as her niece. Krysia works for the underground while maintaining her status as a leader in the arts community. During a dinner party, Emma/Anna is introduced to Nazi Kommadant Richwalder. Smitten, he asks her to come work for him. She agrees, knowing such access will aid the underground, and even becomes intimate with the enemy to gather information. In her moving first novel, Jenoff offers an insightful portrait of people forced into an untenable situation and succeeds in humanizing the unfathomable as well as the heroic. Patty Engelmann
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Top customer reviews
While Jenoff manages a beautiful build up to the sexual consummation, she falls far short of convincing the reader that a woman would actually want to go back for seconds or thirds. Anna's husband, while physically less imposing, follows up the sex act with warmth and loving interest. The Kommandant falls asleep. Perhaps the Kommandant is the more passionate and commanding lover during sex yet readers have few glimpses of Anna/Emma's husband with her.
Anyway, the Kommandant is revealed to the reader as a most imposing man with great strength, wounded in WWI, married to a Jewish woman whom he sought to protect when the Nazi party came to power. I thought it most implausible that he would love Anna wholeheartedly enough to resort to the extremes in behavior described at the end of the book. He should have possessed more self-discipline (at his level in the military). While Jenoff alludes to the notion that the Kommandant is having a break down of sorts, one would think he would have also been unable to fulfill his military duties.
I also found it hard to believe that he fell in love with her when their time together was restricted to the office with its formal behavior and infrequent sexual sessions at his apartment. I was bewildered that she craved the enticements of illicit sex and espionage. Her character unfolded as one who followed the rules, was punctual at work, responsible with home duties, and very nervous. Most people who suffer the agonies of bad nerves to the point where they cannot eat or are sick to their stomach do not seek out repeat scenarios like Anna did. There seemed to be inconsistencies in behavior and character description.
I thought the end was rather lame with no closure. After all, did she honor her marriage vows at all and at least be honest with her husband? Was he paralyzed or disfigured from his wounds? How would they manage to leave that area without getting caught and without starving to death? There was little closure at the end which left me feeling cheated. Overall, the book was interesting to me particularly the parts about Jewish practices such as not eating meat together with cheese. I had no idea.
Emma, a Polish Jew, escapes the Krakow ghetto, and takes on a new name and background, as Anna, a Catholic from Germany. She lives with an older Polish woman who is a member of the Polish resistance. Through a series of encounters, Anna meets Kommandant Richwalder, a high ranking Nazi, who is a prototype of the most physically attractive man God ever created. Richwalder is immediately attracted to Anna, and convinces her to be his personal assistant. Within a short period of time, Anna becomes attracted to the Kommandant as well. However, she has an assignment - to find important documents that have to do with the treatment of Jews.
Jenoff is a masterful story teller. This book kept me on the edge for many nights while reading it.
Although I found the ending of the book unsatisfying, it is realistic considering the time it takes place.