Book Review: War Girl Ursula (War Girl #1) by Marion Kummerow

War Girl UrsulaAbout the Book

Berlin 1943: Compassion is a crime.

A prisoner escapes. A guard looks the other way.  Why does Ursula Hermann risk her life and brave the Gestapo to save a man she barely knows?

Ursula has always lived the law, never broken the rules in her life. That is until the day she finds escapee British airman Tom Westlake and all the right she’s worked so hard to maintain goes wrong… He runs. And she does nothing to stop him.

Torn with guilt about what she did, Ursula battles with her decision when suddenly Tom returns, injured and pleading for her help. This is her opportunity to make things right. But shadows from the past tug at her heart, convincing her to risk everything, including her life, in order to protect a man from the nation her country is fighting.

As they brave the perils and dangers of the ever-present Gestapo, will Ursula find a way to keep Tom safe? Or will being on the opposite sides of the war ultimately cost both of them their lives?

Format: ebook, paperback (136 pp.)    Publisher:
Published: 26th July 2017                       Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance

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My Review

The book’s startling opening scene, once one appreciates the unusual nature of the event taking place, plunges the reader into the atmosphere of wartime Germany.  Frequent Allied bombing raids on Berlin are making the city a dangerous place for its citizens who are also coping with food shortages and the increasingly authoritarian measures of the Nazi government.    ‘During these awful times, death lingered around every corner, and nobody could trust to live to the next day.’  In addition, informers are everywhere.  In the case of Ursula, her sisters Anna and Lotte, and their mother, very close to home indeed.

In Ursula, the author creates a believable picture of someone who has always followed rules unquestioningly and has a strong streak of patriotism.  ‘She prided herself in accepting her fate with grace.  She did what was expected of her.’  However, as events unfold, even Ursula finds herself questioning the harsh measures introduced by Hitler’s government and wondering if the things taking place can be justified, even in time of war.  Working as a prison guard she sees firsthand the awful treatment meted out to those who dare to oppose the government – imprisonment, torture and execution.  ‘Days turned into weeks, and with every personal story Ursula came to know, her faith in the infallibility of the Führer and the Party was hacked away blow by blow.’

When Ursula finally acts as she does it has even greater significance because it is against her natural instincts and involves an agonising moral decision.  As local priest, confidante and ally, Pfarrer Bernau observes, ‘…things aren’t black and white.  Right has become wrong, and wrong has become right.’  However, it turns out that beneath that quiet, respectable exterior, Ursula possesses an inner core of steel.  Isn’t true courage facing up to your worst fears and trying to do the right thing anyway?

Ursula’s story is a timely reminder that there were plenty of Germans who became appalled by the actions of the Nazi government and demonstrated exceptional bravery in trying to help to escape Jews and other people made the focus of the government’s prejudice and hatred.

At the end of the book, the author skilfully sets up the story for the next in the series –War Girl Lotte – with some dramatic news for Ursula, her sister and mother.  War Girl Ursula is a slim novel but it is packed full of period detail and references to actual historical events that makes it feel completely authentic whilst at the same time being a thoroughly entertaining read.  It has two central characters, Tom and Ursula, that this reader found it easy to root for.  I was fascinated to read in the Author’s Notes that some of Marion Kummerow’s own family history also inspired part of the story.

I received a review copy courtesy of the author in return for an honest and unbiased review.

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In three words: Dramatic, authentic, engaging

Try something similar…The Good Doctor of Warsaw by Elisabeth Gifford (read my review here)

Marion KummerowAbout the Author

Marion Kummerow was born and raised in Germany, before she set out to “discover the world” and lived in various countries. In 1999 she returned to Germany and settled down in Munich where she’s now living with her family. She’s written several non-fiction books about Munich and Germany and published in 2016 her first historical fiction.

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