Its Berlin, 1940, and the city is filled with fear. At the house on 55 Jablonski Strasse, its various occupants try to live under Nazi rule in their different ways: the bullying Hitler loyalists the Persickes, the retired judge Fromm and the unassuming couple Otto and Anna Quangel. Then the Quangels receive the news that their beloved son has been killed fighting in France. Shocked out of their quiet existence, they begin a silent campaign of defiance, and a deadly game of cat and mouse develops between the Quangels and the ambitious Gestapo inspector Escherich. When petty criminals Kluge and Borkhausen also become involved, deception, betrayal and murder ensue, tightening the noose around the Quangels' necks...
I thought, for some reason, that this was a fairly modern book. That'll learn me for judging it by it's cover. This book was, in fact, written and publish in 1947 by an author who never learnt of it's success.
I was sucked into this novel, well and truly. I was behind the main characters, The Quangels, from the get go, often willing them on and in turn, internally pleading with them to stop.
But there were other characters that I found myself intrigued by. Esherich, the man who has a job to do and would quite like to just be able to get on with it. Kluge, the petty criminal who pays a hefty price. Trudel, a young woman who tries to make a stand.
Germany under Nazi rule is something that I have been learning more about over recent months. The other side of the history, away from the well known markers, has always interested me. What was it like? What was the real reaction of the German public? Were there pockets of resistance? What happened if you were caught?
Weaved into this novel, answers were touched upon for me. It made me think about how much of the population, or Berlin at least, was in fear and maintained a "head down" attitude. Even those perceived to be at the top, were someone else's punch bag.
But, there were people who found the strength to fight back in bold and covert operations, sometimes with many participants, sometimes with a pair.
I could not put this book down, and I heartily recommend it to you with a rare