Wednesday, April 2, 2014

MOTHERLAND by Maria Hummel

Like City of Women, this novel takes a look at the lives of Germans during the turmoil of WWII.  Inspired by the experiences of her grandparents, the author turns the tables to paint the Americans swarming into Germany as the bad guys.  This viewpoint is a risky proposition and more than a little unsettling.  Liesl is a young wife with three stepsons, while her husband, a doctor, administers to wounded soldiers at the front.  Liesl has her hands full, as Hans, the oldest son, becomes more and more restless and rebellious, and middle son Ani's declining health could land him in an institution that exterminates unfit children.  As if these two boys don't present enough problems, Liesl has to direct most of her attention to Jurgen, an infant.  Hans takes advantage of Liesl's reluctance to discipline her stepchildren, and Ani's mysterious illness may be self-inflicted.  Liesl becomes frazzled to the breaking point, particularly with the Allies' bombs bursting all around them.  Liesl's husband Frank is the rock of the family, but unfortunately he is absent.  Liesl's heart, rather than her head, drives many of her decisions, and her heart steers her well in some, but not all, situations.  These characters are all so flawed that I became a little annoyed, not to mention highly conflicted about their patriotism.  Ultimately disillusioned with the Third Reich, Liesl cannot even rely on her neighbors and fellow Germans, who sometimes seem bent on thwarting her efforts to keep her family safe.

1 comment:

spywife said...

Great review. Made me want to read.