The Kommandant's Girl

The Kommandant's Girl

by Pam Jenoff


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In her luminous and groundbreaking debut, New York Times bestselling author Pam Jenoff shows the unimaginable sacrifices one woman must make in a time of war

Nineteen-year-old Emma Bau has been married only three weeks when Nazi tanks thunder into her native Poland. Within days Emma’s husband, Jacob, is forced to disappear underground, leaving her imprisoned within the city’s decrepit Jewish ghetto. But then, in the dead of night, the resistance smuggles her out. Taken to Krakow to live with Jacob’s Catholic aunt, Krysia, Emma takes on a new identity as Anna Lipowski, a gentile.

Emma’s already precarious situation is complicated by her introduction to Kommandant Richwalder, a high-ranking Nazi official who hires her to work as his assistant. Urged by the resistance to use her position to access details of the Nazi occupation, Emma must compromise her safety—and her marriage vows—in order to help Jacob’s cause. As the atrocities of war intensify, Emma must make choices that will force her to risk not only her double life, but also the lives of those she loves.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780778308799
Publisher: Park Row Books
Publication date: 12/31/2018
Series: The Kommandant's Girl , #1
Edition description: Original
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 5,687
Product dimensions: 5.60(w) x 8.80(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Pam Jenoff is the author of several novels of historical fiction, including the international bestseller The Kommandant’s Girl. She holds a bachelor’s degree in international affairs from George Washington University and a master’s degree in history from Cambridge, and she received her Juris Doctor from the University of Pennsylvania. Jenoff’s novels are inspired by her experiences working at the Pentagon and also as a diplomat for the State Department handling Holocaust issues in Poland. She lives with her husband and three children near Philadelphia, where, in addition to writing, she teaches law school.

Nancy Peterson is a voice talent and audiobook narrator who won the prestigious Audie Award for best narration in 2018.

Read an Excerpt

As we cut across the wide span of the market square, past the pigeons gathered around fetid puddles, I eye the sky warily and tighten my grip on Lukasz's hand, willing him to walk faster. But the child licks his ice-cream cone, oblivious to the darkening sky, a drop hanging from his blond curls. Thank God for his blond curls. A sharp March wind gusts across the square, and I fight the urge to let go of his hand and draw my threadbare coat closer around me.

We pass through the high center arch of the Sukennice, the massive yellow mercantile hall that bisects the square. It is still several blocks to Nowy Kleparz, the outdoor market on the far northern edge of Kraków's city center, and already I can feel Lukasz's gait slowing, his tiny, thin-soled shoes scuffing harder against the cobblestones with every step. I consider car-rying him, but he is three years old and growing heavier by the day. Well fed, I might have managed it, but now I know that I would make it a few meters at most. If only he would go faster. "Szybko, kochana," I plead with him under my breath. "Chocz!" His steps seem to lighten as we wind our way through the flower vendors peddling their wares in the shadow of the Mariacki Cathedral spires.

Moments later, we reach the far side of the square and I feel a familiar rumble under my feet. I pause. I have not been on a trolley in almost a year. I imagine lifting Lukasz onto the streetcar and sinking into a seat, watching the buildings and people walking below as we pass. We could be at the market in minutes. Then I stop, shake my head inwardly. The ink on our new papers is barely dry, and the wonder on Lukasz's face at his first trolley ride would surely arouse suspicion. I cannot trade our safety for convenience. We press onward.

Though I try to remind myself to keep my head low and avoid eye contact with the shoppers who line the streets this midweek morning, I cannot help but drink it all in. It has been more than a year since I was last in the city center. I inhale deeply. The air, damp from the last bits of melting snow, is perfumed with the smell of roasting chestnuts from the cor-ner kiosk. Then the trumpeter in the cathedral tower begins to play the hejnal, the brief melody he sends across the square every hour on the hour to commemorate the Tartar invasion of Kraków centuries earlier. I resist the urge to turn back to-ward the sound, which greets me like an old friend.

As we approach the end of Florianska Street, Lukasz sud-denly freezes, tightening his grip on my hand. I look down. He has dropped the last bit of his precious ice-cream cone on the pavement but does not seem to notice. His face, already pale from months of hiding indoors, has turned gray. "What is it?" I whisper, crouching beside him, but he does not re-spond. I follow his gaze to where it is riveted. Ten meters ahead, by the arched entrance to the medieval Florian Gate, stand two Nazis carrying machine guns. Lukasz shudders. "There, there, kochana. It's okay." I put my arms around his shoulders, but there is nothing I can do to soothe him. His eyes dart back and forth, and his mouth moves without sound. "Come." I lift him up and he buries his head in my neck. I look around for a side street to take, but there is none and turn-ing around might attract attention. With a furtive glance to make sure no one is watching, I push the remnants of the ice-cream cone toward the gutter with my foot and proceed past the Nazis, who do not seem to notice us. A few minutes later, when I feel the child breathing calmly again, I set him down.

Soon we approach the Nowy Kleparz market. It is hard to contain my excitement at being out again, walking and shop-ping like a normal person. As we navigate the narrow walk-ways between the stalls, I hear people complaining. The cabbage is pale and wilted, the bread hard and dry; the meat, what there is of it, is from an unidentifiable source and already giving off a curious odor. To the townspeople and villagers, still accustomed to the prewar bounty of the Polish country-side, the food is an abomination. To me, it is paradise. My stomach tightens.

"Two loaves," I say to the baker, keeping my head low as I pass him my ration cards. A curious look crosses his face. It is your imagination, I tell myself. Stay calm. To a stranger, I know, I look like any other Pole. My coloring is fair, my ac-cent flawless, my dress purposefully nondescript. Krysia chose this market in a working-class neighborhood on the northern edge of town deliberately, knowing that none of my former acquain-tances from the city would shop here. It is critical that no one recognize me.

I pass from stall to stall, reciting the groceries we need in my head: flour, some eggs, a chicken, if there is one to be had. I have never made lists, a fact that serves me well now that paper is so dear. The shopkeepers are kind, but businesslike. Six months into the war, food is in short supply; there is no generous cut of cheese for a smile, no sweet biscuit for the child with the large blue eyes. Soon I have used all of our ration cards, yet the bas-ket remains half empty. We begin the long walk home.

Still feeling the chill from the wind on the market square, I lead Lukasz through side streets on our way back across town. A few minutes later, we turn onto Grodzka Street, a wide thoroughfare lined with elegant shops and houses. I hesitate. I had not meant to come here. My chest tightens, making it hard to breathe. Easy, I tell myself, you can do this. It is just another street. I walk a few meters farther, then stop. I am standing before a pale yellow house with a white door and wooden flower boxes in the windows. My eyes travel upward to the second floor. A lump forms in my throat, making it dif-ficult to swallow. Don't, I think, but it is too late. This was Ja-cob's house. Our house.

I met Jacob eighteen months ago while I was working as a clerk in the university library. It was a Friday afternoon, I re-member, because I was rushing to update the book catalog and get home in time for Shabbes. "Excuse me," a deep voice said. I looked up from my work, annoyed at the interruption. The speaker was of medium height and wore a small yarmulke and closely trimmed beard and mustache. His hair was brown with flecks of red. "Can you recommend a good book?"

"A good book?" I was caught off guard as much by the swim-ming darkness of his eyes as by the generic nature of his request.

"Yes, I would like something light to read over the week-end to take my mind off my studies. Perhaps the Iliad, ?"

I could not help laughing. "You consider Homer light read-ing?"

"Relative to physics texts, yes." The corners of his eyes crin-kled. I led him to the literature section, where he settled upon a volume of Shakespeare's comedies. Our knuckles brushed as I handed him the book, sending a chill down my spine. I checked out the book to him, but still he lingered. I learned that his name was Jacob and that he was twenty, two years my senior.

After that, he came to visit me daily. I quickly learned that even though he was a science major, his real passion was poli-tics and that he was involved with many activist groups. He wrote pieces, published in student and local newspapers, that were critical not only of the Polish government, but of what he called "Germany's unfettered dominance" over its neighbors. I worried that it was dangerous to be so outspoken. While the Jews of my neighborhood argued heatedly on their front stoops, outside the synagogues and in the stores about current affairs and everything else, I was raised to believe that it was safer to keep one's voice low when dealing with the outside world. But Jacob, the son of prominent sociologist Maximillian Bau, had no such concerns, and as I listened to him speak, watched his eyes burn and his hands fly, I forgot to be afraid.

I was amazed that a student from a wealthy, secular family would be interested in me, the daughter of a poor Orthodox baker, but if he noticed the difference in our backgrounds, it did not seem to matter. We began spending our Sunday af-ternoons together, talking and strolling along the Wisla River. "I should be getting home," I remarked one Sunday afternoon in April as the sky grew dusky. Jacob and I had been walking along the river path where it wound around the base of Wawel Castle, talking so intensely I had lost track of time. "My par-ents will be wondering where I am."

"Yes, I should meet them soon," he replied matter-of-factly. I stopped in my tracks. "That's what one does, isn't it, when one wants to ask permission to court?" I was too sur-prised to answer. Though Jacob and I had spent much time together these recent months and I knew he enjoyed my com-pany, I somehow never thought that he would seek permis-sion to see me formally. He reached down and took my chin in his gloved fingers. Softly, he pressed his lips down on mine for the first time. Our mouths lingered together, lips slightly parted. The ground seemed to slide sideways, and I felt so dizzy I was afraid that I might faint.

Thinking now of Jacob's kiss, I feel my legs grow warm. Stop it, I tell myself, but it is no use. It has been nearly six months since I have seen my husband, been touched by him.

A sharp clicking noise jars me from my thoughts. My vi-sion clears and I find myself still standing in front of the yel-low house, staring upward. The front door opens and an older, well-dressed woman steps out. Noticing me and Lukasz, she hesitates. I can tell she is wondering who we are, why we have stopped in front of her house. Then she turns from us dismis-sively, locks the door and proceeds down the steps. This is her home now. Enough, I tell myself sharply. I cannot afford to do anything that will draw attention. I shake my head, trying to clear the image of Jacob from my mind.

"Come, Lukasz," I say aloud, tugging gently on the child's hand. We continue walking and soon cross the Planty, the broad swath of parkland that rings the city center. The trees are revealing the most premature of buds, which will surely be cut down by a late frost. Lukasz tightens his grip on my hand, staring wide-eyed at the few squirrels that play among the bushes as though it is already spring. As we push onward, I feel the city skyline receding behind us. Five minutes later we reach the Aleje, the wide boulevard that, if taken to the left, leads south across the river. I stop and look toward the bridge. Just on the other side, a half kilometer south, lies the ghetto. I start to turn in that direction, thinking of my parents. Per-haps if I go to the wall, I can see them, find a way to slip them some of the food I have just purchased. Krysia would not mind. Then I stop—I cannot risk it, not in broad daylight, not with the child. I feel shame at my stomach, which no longer twists with hunger, and at my freedom, at crossing the street as though the occupation and the war do not exist.

Half an hour later, Lukasz and I reach Chelmska, the rural neighborhood we have come to call home. My feet are sore from walking along the uneven dirt road and my arms ache from carrying the groceries, as well as the child, for the last several meters. As we round the corner where the main road divides in two, I inhale deeply; the air has grown colder now, its pureness broken only by an acrid hint of smoke from a farmer burning piles of dead winter brush. I can see the fires smoldering across the sloping farmland to my right, their thick smoke fanning out over the fields that roll like a gentle green lake into the horizon.


The Inside Scoop
on Pam Jenoff
by Andrea Kerr

Tell us about your book The Kommandant's Girl. What can readers expect?
The Kommandant's Girl is the story of Emma Bau, a young Jewish woman in Krakow, Poland. Emma has been married to Jacob for only three weeks when the Nazis invade and he is forced to disappear underground with the resistance. Emma struggles to survive, first with her parents in the ghetto and later with Jacob's aunt, using an assumed, non-Jewish identity.

Emma's precarious situation is complicated when she meets high-ranking Nazi Kommandant Georg Richwalder, who insists that she come work for him. Emma agrees, hoping to secure valuable information for the resistance. To do so, however, she must become dangerously close to the Kommandant, whose romantic intentions are clear. Emma wrestles with difficult questions of loyalty and duty, as well as her own complex feelings for the Kommandant, until a fateful resistance bombing of a Nazi café threatens to change her life and the lives of those she loves forever.

This book is based in part on real events--was Emma inspired by an actual person, and if so, how did you first learn about her story?

The Kommandant's Girl and its characters, including Emma, are entirely fictitious. However, the inspiration for the book came from historical events.
In early 2002 I rode a train from Washington, D.C., to Philadelphia with an elderly couple who were both Holocaust survivors, and learned for the first time the extraordinary story of the Krakow resistance, one that I had never known during my years living there. Curious, I researched the Krakowresistance further and learned of their struggles, including the fateful bombing of a Nazi café by a resistance group, and the eventual arrest and/or murder of numerous resistance fighters.

I was amazed--how could I have lived and walked the same streets as these brave partisans for so long not knowing their story? How had the story of these courageous young people gone largely untold for so long? With that historical foundation, The Kommandant's Girl was born.

You have a very demanding day job as an attorney; how do you find the time to write?

It's busy, but I like the contrast: the solitude of writing; the social interaction of my job. I try to wake up at 5:00 a.m.--or as close to that as I can manage!-- to write until about 7:00 a.m. or so. Then I have to stop and get ready to go to the office. On weekends it's a more relaxed pace--up by 6:00 or 7:00 a.m. since my creative mind seems to be done by noon! And I need to be well rested to write, usually at least seven hours of sleep, so I am in bed early, with not a lot of nightlife.

I also use vacation to write when possible. I recently had the opportunity to undertake a writing residence at the Leighton Studios, which is at the Banff Centre for the Arts in Banff National Park in the Canadian Rockies. The chance to get away and have a dedicated period of time to write in such a beautiful setting was invaluable.

You previously served as a foreign service officer with the State Department in Poland and as the special assistant to the secretary of the army at the Pentagon. How have these experiences influenced your writing?

I believe it was Sir Isaac Newton who said, "If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants." I think that quote really sums up the influence that my government career has had on my writing. Through my previous work, I had the opportunity to travel the world, and the places I've seen and people I've met have had a subtle but profound effect on my writing. The biggest factor it gives me a very vivid sense of place, such as the streets of Krakow. Also, my years in Poland gave me a real sense of the people. I go back to visit as often as possible. There are members of the elderly Jewish community there who are like grandparents to me, and I am mindful that they will not be there forever. And there are so many other Polish people, Jewish and non, who opened up their homes and hearts to me when I lived there. They are like family, and I cannot imagine losing that connection.

Have you always wanted to write fiction?

Yes! I started writing at the age of five or six, sending in articles to children's magazines, binding my stories into little books and showing them to anyone who would read them. I started my first novel by sixth grade.

My first serious attempt at a novel came when I was living in Poland. I lived alone in the countryside and had a tremendous amount of solitude, which helped me be creative and productive. But those were pre-Internet days, and the lack of English-speaking support and communication stopped me from taking it as far as I liked. I still hope to rewrite and publish that project in the future.

For several years after I returned to the United States, I couldn't write much of anything. Then 9/11 happened and it really made me reevaluate what was important to me. I decided that if I was going to be a writer, I had to start then and there. Soon after, I took an evening class on novel writing and began working on The Kommandant's Girl.

What are you working on now? Will you be revisiting the WWII era in future books?

My second book (tentatively titled Heart of Europe) is related to The Kommandant's Girl. It takes the story of Emma's best friend, Marta Nedermann, forward into the postwar period. At the end of The Kommandant's Girl, Marta's survival is very much uncertain, but she awakens in a displaced persons camp in Salzburg, haunted by the vision of Paul, the mysterious American soldier who liberated her. When Paul's unit passes through Austria, he and Marta are reunited for a single night before he disappears again, this time into seeming tragedy.

Grief-stricken, Marta emigrates to London, determined to start a new life. Working as a translator in the foreign office, she meets and marries young diplomat Simon, and gives birth to a daughter, Rachel. But Marta's peace and comfort are short-lived; as the Cold War explodes across Europe, she finds herself pressed into service as a spy once more, caught up in the death struggle between east and west for the heart of the continent. Reluctantly she leaves her family behind to undertake a dangerous mission, one that will force her to confront her past, taking her to places she thought she would never return, and reuniting her with a love she thought was lost forever.

Any advice for aspiring authors?

Don't quit your day job! Just kidding. Seriously, I have the utmost respect for those writers who are willing to struggle until they make it in order to write full-time. For me, becoming an author--I call it my "rock star dream"--has always had to coexist with my demanding career as an attorney. But it is a long haul from starting a book to publication--almost five years for me, and that may be on the shorter side of average. So you need to have a life and support system to get you through the highs and lows of getting to publication.

Beyond that, I believe there are three factors that make a difference: first, you have to be tenacious. You just have to keep on knocking at the door until it opens.

Second, you have to be disciplined. Writing takes a lot of time, and I'm not just talking about the first draft. There are the revisions, and then there's the business marketing side of it. You have to make choices to consistently carve out the time for your writing if it is going to be important to you.

Finally, the single biggest skill that has helped me as a writer is having the ability to revise. The Kommandant's Girl went through a dozen rewrites from first draft to publication. Many times I had to take broad, conceptual suggestions from my agent or editor and incorporate them into the work. Often I wasn't sure if I liked or agreed with the changes. Sometimes I would take the leap of faith and see if the changes worked (they almost always did). Other times, I would go back to whomever was making the suggestion and say, "Whoa, let's slow down here and revisit" to negotiate changes that made the story better without destroying my gut-level instinct about the spirit of the book.

But ultimately, the collective input resulted in a richer, more complete creation, and I truly believe my ability to take those changes and integrate them made all the difference.

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Kommandant's Girl 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 110 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
firs of all sorry for my english - its not my native language. thats true - i couldnt put down that book... but it just made me angry to be honest. author made so much historical mastakes! for example - Poland was fighting with Germans for a month, not for two weeks (like France). Emma/Anna is buyng oranges or drinking orange juce all the time - dureing war in Poland it was almost impissible to buy bread - what about oranges!!! author is writening also about fridges - first fridge in Poland was made in 1956!so long after the war... next thing - the Resistance movement - the book says that there was only Jews fighting for freedom, what about the Poles? in the book ther is only one polish freedom fighter and many Jews. in reality it was just opposite. i understeand that its kind of historical fiction but its just sooo unreal that it hurts, especialy that Pam Jenoff was vice consul in Cracow - she should study some more history beafore writening that book. shame...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Really horrible! Nothing makes any sense at all. To write such garbage about one of the most tragic and horrifying periods in our history without a single fact checking! All the fabrications of visits to the Ghetto as if it were a social club. Using the Polish words without a slightest notion if they make any sense at all! And a girl who sleeps with a German Nazi??? A Jewish girl in a city where all the horrors of Holocaust take place? Disgraceful!!! And the information that the author is an expert on Polish Holocaust because she used to live in Cracow, where you still walk among the reminders of the WWII years. Were she an expert- she would have written a book honoring the facts , the Heroes, the Victims with dignity and the utmost reverence. This "book " is preposterous. One star rating is way too many . Shame!
momof3drmy More than 1 year ago
This book was a great read. I was able to read it and not worry about setting it down and not be able to pick up where i left off. I really enjoyed this.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
(Warning: spoiler alert!!??) ???? five stars! Beautiful story that does not have a typical cliche ending of “they live happily ever after” (Anna/Emma and the Kommandant). My heart sores for Emma and her separation from her parents and the suffering her parents have to go through. Other than that, the book was beautifully written by Jenn Jenoff!! :)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was a time when survival was key. The people you know are most important. A story where tragedy is on both sides of the war.
gaele More than 1 year ago
I couldn’t help but grab for this title when the review opportunity arose. World War II historic fiction with all of the grey areas brought forth with a need to survive versus your own moral code. Jenoff created a romance to play in the foreground of major political and societal upheaval. But, there were plenty of good ideas brought forward in this story, and I was completely wrapped up in the reading to the end. With an initial premise that could go any of several different directions, Emma is a newlywed, young, rather sheltered girl when her homeland is invaded by the Nazis. Her husband, a Jewish Activist, flees for his life, and Emma must be smuggled out of the city to a gentile Aunt’s home in Krakow, assume a new identity and live through the war. Now living as Anna, an introduction to Kommandant Richwalder results in the offer of a position in the Kommandant’s office. As is not uncommon, youth and inexperience when faced with power often leads to situations that are loosely termed romance. The power imbalance here is so great, the consequences so dire, that I cannot see Anna/Emma’s attraction as more than infatuation. Even though, Jenoff did make the character of Georg reasonably sympathetic – and rightly so. Everyone in the war was not all good or all bad – even as their actions did skew their reputations later. So – we have a not-so-unusual romance or flirtation in a time of war, and then the story starts to fail the premise. Too many coincidences to neatly wrap-up threads started, with a heroine who seems completely unaware of the devastation around her. A timeframe that is, at best, problematic in terms of actual history – a failing that I wish didn’t add to the negatives here. Facts are easy to verify and check, and while personal accounts shared through family may have additional details to share, the trajectory of the war, the presence of the occupying force, and the questions around when Germany realized that they could (not would) lose the war all play in far too early in the story to hold the pieces in place. Intriguing and engaging despite the holes in timeline and failure to actually develop the heroine will provide readers with an interesting story, but one that could be much more satisfying. I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher via Edelweiss for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Felt like you were right there. So many complex situations and people involved but you understood the emotions and motives of each of them.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you like this story, you've got to read My enemy's Cradle by Sara Young.
mandi1082 More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book. I love reading historical fiction and this book talked about something that I never have read about and that was the Resistance. I think the book moved with great speed even thought the ending did not do the ending justice I wanted to know more. I wanted to know what happened so I guess I hope she writes another book to put my mind at ease with the main character.
MandyMona More than 1 year ago
It was a great story, but I didn't care for the ending.
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crazy4reading on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It took me awhile to get into this book. I really enjoyed the other book I read by Pam Jenoff. The Kommandant's Girl just didn't catch me like her other book.I found the main female character annoying at times. I felt she was a little to self absorbed. I understand it was during the time of war and she was not safe being a Jew but I just felt she was so worried about everything all the time. When ever someone would call her and it sounded demanding she assumed that her cover was blown and she would be sent off to one of the camps.Emma/Anne is the main female character. Her husband fights for the resistance even though he is not Jewish. She spends some time in a camp but then her husband has the resistance get her out and giver her a new identity. Once she has this new identity she is always on pins and needles. The resistance has her getting passes and keeping an eye out for stuff crossing the Kommandant's desk. The Kommandant is smitten with Anne. Anne is asked by the resistance to get close to him. She doesn't realize what they are asking at first but she agrees without thinking it through. I just felt she was very nieve in life.
Emilything on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I tore through this novel with lightening speed. Overall I thought this was a very good read. I'd recommend it to anyone with an interest in historical fiction and stories of World War II. Pam Jenoff grasps the reader's heart and attention and doesn't let go until the last page of the book. There is an abundance of historical details that show Jenoff's extensive historical knowledge. The characters are entertaing and dramatic but at the same time very human. I definitely look forward to more work from this author.
JanaRose1 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Emma is a young Jewish bride with the Nazi¿s invade Poland during WWII. Her husband Jacob, is a resistance fighter and quickly goes underground to help the Jewish resistance. With the help of the underground, Emma escapes the ghetto and moves in with Jacob¿s Catholic Aunt. Emma assumes the name of Anna and becomes the personal assistance to a highly ranked German Kommandant. The Kommandant falls in love with Anna, and they embark on a tenuous relationship so that Emma can obtain information for the underground.Well written, the author explores the ins and outs of life during WWII. Her characters are well developed and the plot moves smoothly. Overall this was a quick read, one that was an interesting look into the Jewish resistance and struggles of everyday life.
mmillet on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I liked this book. It really captivates your interest from the start with believable characters and a mostly realistic plot. Fairly sad, but nicely written.
ljpower on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was a good first effort and I think Pam Jennoff will only improve with future works. She provided us with engaging characters who tried to show us a very difficult time in history. In this particular novel, she provided us with a page turner that was very enjoyable. She portrayed the struggle that the Jews in Krakow experienced as they retaliated against the Nazi invasion. Their uprisings were courageous and necessary and they suffered for it. The choices that these people made in desperate times cannot be truly judged by those who did not experience them; not only for the victims of the war but also for the perpetrators. Decisions were made in a moment...and it was only afterward that it was possible to analyze if it was right or wrong. The ability to live with those decisions would have been very difficult. I will be looking for future works from this author.
JGoto on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Despite the subject matter, The Kommandant's Girl by Pam Jenoff has the feel of a novel written for young adults. It lacks the plot nuances and complex characters expected in a well-written book for adults. However, the story is fairly engaging. Newlywed Emma Blau is a young Polish Jew whose life undergoes a drastic change when the Nazis occupy Poland. Her husband goes off to fight with the Resistance and the reader follows Emma as she goes first to the Ghetto with her parents and the escapes to live under a false identity as a Gentile. She becomes involved in the Resistance movement and begins to work for a prominant Nazi official. In order to obtain information for the Resistance she becomes his lover, and to her own horror finds that she is attracted to him both physically and emotionally. The premise for the novel is very good - I wish that the execution were more sophisticated.
sensitivemuse on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I went into this book skeptical and was almost right about it. There were times where it was pretty cheesy. There were eye rolling moments, especially when you find out specific information about the Kommadant (about his past) and also what happens to Emma towards the end of the book. Nevertheless I trudged along the novel, waiting to see if there was any particular part of action, or something exciting about to happen. I actually finished this novel because I was stubborn enough to read it from cover to cover. I'd have to say I was mildly dissapointed. There were good parts I have to admit. Emma went through some very close call moments in order to gather information needed for the resistance. Although it seemed as if it wasn't enough and when asked to get "closer" to the Kommadant, it felt as if they shunned her for it. It was rather mind boggling, as they were asking for her to do so in the first place but, well I suppose if seen cavorting with the enemy, what else were you supposed to think? Some parts of there book just were a little too convenient and you second guess as to how realistic this would be. I wish there was more to it, it just seemed to be lacking in overall substance and depth.I couldn't really get close or really like Emma in the first place. I saw her as somewhat silly and naive. I wasn't sure if she agreed to do this job because she actually had feelings for the Kommandant or if she was thinking of helping out in the first place. It was hard to say. She just seemed so flaky that way. Throughout the book she moans about her conflicting loyalties between the two men she loves, although I am sure it's difficult, it got annoying after a while. Surely survival would be more on the mind instead of wondering what two men will think once the truth is out. The characters in this novel just seemed flat and not well rounded out. They were two dimensional. The only exception I would say would be Krysia (who also is my favorite) I liked her strength and courage throughout the entire novel. However I'd have to say, I liked the ending. It was very ambiguous and things were left open. Although the situation did look bleak and hard I can't help to wonder now what's going to happen to these characters. I know there is a sequel to this book however with the way it is written I am a little hesitant as to whether I will pick it up or not. I'd like it in more detail, more realism, and more depth into the story.Overall, not really a book I would recommend to those who love reading WWII themes. It's too bad as it falls short, but had the potential to be a dramatic novel. With so much information out there on the subject, research and detail should have been noted and incorporated into the novel and it would have improved it drastically. Romance lovers may like this novel instead.
MrsHillReads on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is an amazing book! It's one that I stayed up late to finish. The choices that Emma/Anna had to make were difficult and heart-breaking. This is a love story, a war story, and a story about how we live when we have to make choices that make us uncomfortable. It also puts a different face on a German leader as he struggles to deal with the choices he must make.
shejake on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I liked this book. The main character Emma grew stronger throughout story and was a sympathetic character.
kiwifortyniner on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Emma has been married to Jacob for only a short time when the Nazis invade Poland. Jacob, a member of the resistance is forced to flee and Emma is imprisoned for a time in the ghetto until members of the resistance smuggle her out one night and give her a new place to live and a new identity as Anna. She meets the Kommandant at a party at the house and he invites her to work for him as his assistant and that is when things become more difficult for her. She has to put her own life in danger, as she uses her position to gain information for the resistance. Even her marriage vows to Jacob are compromised as her relationship with the Kommandant intensifies and she struggles with her feelings and what is the right thing to do. This was a book I could not put down. I wanted to keep reading to find out what would happen t Emma and the Kommandant.
bookwormteri on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Good not great. I really disliked the ending. I also really dislike myself for liking the Nazi (Georg or Herr Kommandant) better than just about every other character in the book. Very sad, but not a super heavy read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago