The first thing that caught my eye about this book was that it was set in the Czech Republic.
My husband and I visited that lovely country a few years ago and while we were there we visited a lot historic sights while we were there including the Holocaust museum and the Terezin camp.
It was one of the most impactful experiences of my adult life and the rich history of that particularly dark time in history, was vast and humbling. So when I saw this book was set in that part of the world, it was an easy yes!
In the dead of night, a Czech farm girl and a British soldier travel through the countryside. Izabela and prisoner of war Bill have secretly married and are on the run, with Izzy dressed as a man. The young husband and wife evade capture for as long as possible–until they are cornered by Nazi soldiers with tracking dogs.
Izzy’s disguise works. The couple are assumed to be escaped British soldiers and transported to a POW camp. However, their ordeal has just begun, as they face appalling living conditions and the constant fear of Izzy’s exposure. But in the midst of danger and deprivation comes hope, for the young couple are befriended by a small group of fellow prisoners. These men become their new family, willing to jeopardize their lives to save Izzy from being discovered and shot.
The Prisoner’s Wife tells of an incredible risk, and of how our deepest bonds are tested in desperate times. Bill and Izzy’s story is one of love and survival against the darkest odds. (summary from Goodreads)
As the summary points out, this book is based on a true story which makes it all the more shocking. Even if the author used some liberties with the story, it was still impressive and moving. I knew this wasn’t going to be the kind of book that would be an easy read. It is emotional and moving and readers should be prepared with Kleenex at the ready.
The author does an incredible job bringing this dark period in history to life. The characters felt fully developed and the history takes on a life of its own throughout the novel. There is an element of romance in this story (obviously) but I would say that it is mostly about survival.
But it’s not always an easy look at a survival story, there is gritty language and the horrors of war and cruelty are right there for the reader to see rather than imagine which made this one hard to put down. The amount of research and attention to detail in this book stood out and I can’t rave about it enough.
The only thing that I had a bit of a hard time with was the pace. While this isn’t an adventure or action based story, it felt a little slow in parts for me. The story itself was captivating and hard to put down, but at times I felt like some chapters went on a little longer than I was expecting.
This historical fiction really needs to be on your radar if it isn’t already. It was a fantastic read with emotion and so much history brought to life.
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