Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The Kommandant's Girl

While the concept of this novel is quite good - a Polish Jew whose husband works for the Resistance dons a new identity and works as a secretary to the German Kommandant in Krakow - the writing itself falls flat.
Yes, it's simplistic. Yes, it's very easy to read. But I found that the cliches and other rather mundane details didn't quite draw me into this world of danger and intrigue. It's written in first-person and thus, offers a limited view of the world of nineteen-year-old Emma, a.k.a. Anna.
Since the author, Pam Jenoff, spent time in Poland and studied the Jewish Resistance in that country, I thought perhaps there would be a plethora of great historic detail. While there is some, I still had a hard time "picturing" the setting. Since setting is so important to a story - especially this particular one - I never quite connected with the sense of place.
That being said, this book has a great story to tell. The curious relationship between Emma and the Kommandant is riveting. Jenoff manages to keep you turning the pages to find out if Emma is going to get caught spying for the Resistance while she works at one of the most important Nazi strongholds in Krakow.
Worth a read. If you're a fan of the simplistic style of writing, you'll enjoy this novel of heroism and danger.


Ello said...

Hi Ms. Marsh! I followed you over from Therese Fowler's blog when I saw that you mentioned you had a world war II blog. I immediately decided to come over because my just completed manuscript is on World War II, but on the Pacific theater. I'm always on the lookout for blogs that talk about WWII since it is such a fascinating war and era. My absolute favorite television series is BAnd of Brothers. I loved reading Flags of our Fathers and really enjoyed the movie Letters from Iwo Jima. Hope you don't mind me poking around your blog!

It's funny because I had highlighted this book to read but never quite got around to reading it. So is this really worth shelling out the money for?

Melissa Marsh said...

Ello - So glad to have you! And I'd love to read more about your novel! I hope that the WW2 setting is starting to be more of a force in the marketplace.

I'm a little on the fence about this particular book. It has received several rave reviews and was even nominated for a Quill Award. It was a good story - no doubt about it. But when I finished reading it, I didn't have the, "Ahh, that was a good book" feeling - it was more of a "I wish it had been better" feeling. So yeah, it's worth a read - it has a lot of good stuff in it - but it's not, IMO, a wonderful read.

Ello said...

It seems like some of the best world war II stories are actually the real life ones, the ones from like Flags of our Fathers, the original BAnd of Brothers novel, or the Holocaust memoirs by Weisel and Anne Frank. Perhaps because I've been immersed in world war II research for so long, sometimes it is hard to read a pure novel on world war II without being somewhat critical of it. I read Colors of the Sea, which is a WWII novel from the Japanese perspective which was of interest to me because it dealt with the same topics of my novel. I probably got the same sense of disappointment that you had with this book. I felt like it could have been really good, but in the end, I wasn't blown away by it and walked away let down.

Are you writing a novel about world war II? I would love to hear about yours. My query got posted on Evil Editor's site a while back, but would be happy to talk to you about it if you are interested.


Melissa Marsh said...

Ell - Yes, I'm definitely interested to hear about your novel! And yes, I am finishing up the edits on my WW2 novel right now. Email me at melissaamateis at earthlink dot net