This post contains affiliate links. Hands down, historical fiction is my favorite genre, especially set during World War II. Some of my all-time favorite books, such as All the Light We Cannot See and The Nightingale, are set during that time. Recently, I discovered Daughter of the Reich by Louise Fein, and I’m happy to say that book has joined the other two as one of my favorite all-time books.
About Daughter of the Reich by Louise Fein
This book is set in the 1930s in Germany and is told by Herta (Hetty) Heinrich, the daughter of a newspaper publisher who soon becomes a prominent member of the Reich. Hetty’s brother, Karl, and her mother are all devoted to the Nazi cause, as is Hetty. She believes completely in the Nazi ideals and as she grows older, she finds Jewish people despicable, as do those around her.
However, when she soon finds herself caught up in a romance with a Jewish friend. He tells her the truth about his situation and how the Jews are being treated. The longer she continues her relationship with him, the more she sees the lies in the Nazi beliefs and ideals. Unfortunately, as she learns more and becomes more sympathetic to the Jewish people, her family becomes more stringent about following Nazi rules.
Of course, her romance cannot exist in such a toxic environment, especially when her boyfriend is facing deportation to a camp and certain death. In addition, the Nazis can charge her with the crime of fraternizing with a Jew and send her to a camp. As their love deepens, the world around them comes crashing down. Hetty is faced with an impossible choice to save the one she loves.
My Thoughts on This Book
Few historical fiction novels set during this time have a character who is a sympathetic Nazi. (All the Light We Cannot See does, but I feel Doerr went out of his way to shield Werner from participating in most of the barbaric acts Nazi soldiers committed.) The beginning of this book is a bit difficult to read. Hetty is completely accepting of the Nazi ideals. She doesn’t even question what’s happening, until she falls in love. I loved that this book was set from the perspective a Nazi family as it helped me understand the time and culture.
Fein’s writes exquisitely and my heart broke for the difficult choice Hetty had to make, especially because if she and her boyfriend lived in a different time and a different place, they could have enjoyed their romance and happily married.
A word of caution, there is some brutality in this book that can be difficult to read.
I give Daughter of the Reich by Louise Fein 5 out of 5 stars on the Mom’s Plans’ scale.