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The premise is not entirely credible and does not do justice to the fate of the White Rose members
on February 25, 2018
A generally well-written thriller/historical romance novel. However, I found it disturbing to insinuate the female protagonist (Franka) into the tragic aftermath of the Munich White Rose activists. It is truly incredulous that the lover of Hans Scholl (the leader of this movement) would have escaped the fate of the other members of the group. Instead of facing the guillotine, Franka serves a prison sentence for sedition then returns to the community where she and her family lived, theoretically rehabilitated but still the object of interest by the local Gestapo. This premise sets up initial context of the story; Franka is depressed over the loss of her family, her lover, her friends and she wanders away from her family's 'cottage' into a blizzard in order to do herself in with her father's revolver. Did anyone in late Nazi Germany actually do prison time for sedition?? Furthermore, if the judge who adjudicated the White Rose affair also judged Franka, surely she would have gotten a light prison sentence -- the guillotine would have been most likely, or maybe transport to a slave labor concentration camp. Nazi Germany in 1941-1943 was not well known for rehabilitating troublemakers; quick disposition was the more likely fate of someone like Franka. So the basic premise that creates the setting for this story is not really credible.
Then there is the whole business of her suicidal intent. Much of the novel deals with the issues of trust in the formation of friendships, relationships, loyalty. If she was truly suicidal, why did she care if Werner/John was forthcoming with her or not? The death wish premise wanders in and out of focus.
Having said all of that, Franka and John are engaging, if not entirely believable, characters. I should add that many of the secondary characters who play a role in the conflict that the protagonists face come off as one-dimensional stereotypes. Oh well, in a novel of this length the author could not fully develop all of the characters that complicated the dilemma of the protagonists.
Eoin Dempsey is a very good writer. While some of the dialogue was stilted, the narrative was well done. I recommend the book, it is a nice read and it certainly held my interest in spite of the shortcomings described above. Readers should seek greater insight into the tragic outcome of the White Rose affair and judge for themselves. Since it forms a crucial backdrop for the story the reader might consider whether the author has inappropriately added a character into that sad movement in order to create a basis for the action that ensues; or, by doing so, does the author show a critical misunderstanding of the White Rose or, worse, show disrespect to those who faced the guillotine for their crime of distributing leaflets.