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The Kommandant's Mistress: A Novel
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The Kommandant's Mistress: A Novel

3.74 of 5 stars 3.74  ·  rating details  ·  295 ratings  ·  65 reviews
Portrays the relationship between the Kommandant of a Nazi concentration camp and the Jewish woman inmate he makes his mistress. The story is told in three parts - his side, her side and an objective view presented through official documents.
Hardcover, 1st, 275 pages
Published July 14th 1993 by HarperCollins Publishers (first published July 1st 1993)
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When Band of Brothers first ran on HBO, one viewer expressed outrage that American troops were seen taking items from German houses. It reminded me of someone who said that all those guards who worked with the Sheriff of Nottingham deserved getting killed. Who cares if they had to eat, they shouldn’t have been working for the guy in the first place.
As humans we like out morality to be clear. We like strict right and wrong . Yet, we know that very few things are so clear cut. A woman is a slut i
My grade: A. This is a compelling book I know I will think about for days. The first half of the book is told from the Kommandant's POV, in 1st person. The second half in Rachel's POV, in 1st person. It mostly takes place during the final months of WWII in a concentration camp. To borrow the words of a reviewer, it reads like a psychic collage, running forwards and backwards in time. Even mid-sentence we jump around. At first disruptive and confusing, I quickly found myself seamlessly following ...more
Sunny in Wonderland
Winner of the strangest writing style ever award. Powerful writing that deserves a higher rating, but was just too confusing at the end for me to thoroughly enjoy. Part I: POV of the Kommandant. Part II: POV of the Jewish girl / prisoner. Part III: Historical (fictional) account of the "official" story for each of them.

I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads, and the author - Alexandria Constantinova Szeman (not Sherri Szeman as on the original cover art) - was kind enough to
I wish that GoodReads had a more detailed rating system. I often find it hard to choose between 4 and 5 stars or 3 and 4.

Anyway, my Kindle recommended this book to me and I saw that I could borrow it on Prime so I went for it. When I started to read, I was a bit disappointed that it wasn't a true story - not that I would wish these things on anyone, but I have a hard time with Holocaust fiction, I've always felt like it "cheapens" the real thing. I don't know why. But in the end, I was able to r
Jul 02, 2013 Anne rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Adults
A complex and sometimes hard to understand story of a German Kommandant of a concentration camp and the Jewish prisoner he chooses to be his mistress. Written in an unusual style, it goes between people by the use of one word in a previous statement. Once you understand how it is written you are more able to understand what is going on.
Written in three sections, The Kommandant, the Girl and the History of both, it is a heart wrenching story of a Jewish girl in the concentration camp who is chose
John Dolan
Many books have been written about the Holocaust and there is a danger that at some point desensitisation sets in. But not with this work.

The structure of the novel is unconventional and the narrative flows back and forward over time without any break in the stream of consciousness of the two central characters.

The writing has an `European' feel to it, and stylistically the book read to me like a concatenation of Sartre's 'Roads to Freedom' and Camus' 'The Fall'.

Human, Frighteningly Human

At the
This book confused me. I wanted to see how this writer managed to deal with this kind of relationship. Well, mainly she didn't. The book is told in two perspectives. The first half is the Kommandant's told in flashback after the war (he's on the run as a war criminal) and the second half is the mistress's, also told in flashback after the war. The two halves are so distinctly different that it's almost like they're remembering totally separate events. Also, and interestingly enough, I felt the a ...more
Mar 27, 2012 Denise rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone interested in the Third Reich,particularly women
I loved this novel. It was written in a different fashion with various 'scenes' mixed together, one leading to another. I really enjoyed it after I got used to the 'format.' It is the story of the commandant of a concentration camp and the beautiful young Jewish woman he made his mistress. It is extremely intense; I could barely put it down.

The novel was written in three parts: the first part was written from the Kommandant's perspective; the second part was written from the Jewish slave-woman's
Unbelievable what an astounding piece of work this is! Wish I had the time to rave about it.
Will Byrnes
A beautiful novel, telling of a Nazi death camp Kommandant who takes a Jewish mistress. The first half is told from his perspective; the second is told from hers, followed by a supposedly objective view. We are shown how each of the characters arrived at the camp situation, their reactions to the situation, how they cope, justify. Good stuff.
Raya Fagg

Deeply satisfied is how I describe my time spent reading The Kommandant's Mistress.

This isn't a book for casual reading. Rather, the reader must pay attention because the story is written in a way that an image, a thought, a sound can transport the speaker to another scene. It's engaging, and engrossing, deserving all the praise that it has received.

The story is about the life of a ranking Nazi officer and his mistress told in their voice with their thoughts and feelings. It's not graphic alt
Ronald Magnuson
Szeman used the interesting technique of using a key word from a paragraph uttered by one protagonist to set off an association with another character who used the same word in a completely different context. In so doing, she moved from the present to the past or the future involving one or more of the characters. This technique lost much of its interest as the constant changes interrupted the flow of the narrative.
The tale is often harrowing and compelling but the reader never really gets to k
Really interesting. It's a little confusing at the beginning because of how it goes so quickly between scenes, but once you get used to it, it's not difficult to figure out what's happening. The characterization could be a little rough - I wanted to know the characters a little more than you get to in the book. And there were a few scenes that stuck out a little in the book that I wish had been more fully explained - like the Star of David scene - but generally I really liked this book and I rea ...more
Currie Underwood
A bit confusing to read at first (flashbacks and flashforwards without any warning) but loved this book! the first half is the point of view of the nazi kommandant..the second part is that point of view of his jewish slave/mistress. all the same events happen in each part. very interesting, especially to see the point of view from the kommandant

**somewhat of a spoiler alert?**
at the end, short biographies are given about the 2 main characters. so they were both real people and the events were (m
Sophie Knightly
I read this book for the first time when it was originally published. I was entranced, seduced, and mesmerized by Ms. Szeman's writing.

So what does any fan do when they are touched by a literary, artistic work - I wrote a fan letter to the author. Much to my surprise she responded. Her letter was gracious and polite. I tucked it away in between the pages of her book, forever grateful to Ms. Szeman for taking the time to respond.

Recently I discovered that the book was reissued under her real na
This book's title implies a consentual relationaship between a Kommandant and a woman, not his wife. In contrast to the insinuation of the title, the book's pages are devoted to the nuances of this relationship and the illusion that it is, in fact, consentual. While any book about the Holocaust is difficult, this one is unique in capturing moments of sheer delusion on the part of the Kommandant. I found that aspect pathetically difficult to stomach, which I am sure is just what the author intend ...more
I need time to think about this more before I review it so I gave it 3 stars for now. It's fiction based on real people. Because of the subject, I don't know if it's terrific or terrible in terms of assumptions. The title is wrong regardless. Makes it seem like a sleazy romance novel which it definitely is not. I read it straight through and it is engaging and complex but I still have to think it out.
Intense. One of the more violent WWII fictions I've read. What makes Szeman's book different is her writing style. She flows from scene to scene and subject to subject without breaking stride. In the space of one page, Szeman places you in four or five different scenarios which all blend together coherently, seamlessly, and with obvious skill.
Good story about a German Kommandant of a concentration camp and the beautiful Jewish woman who is forced to be his mistress. The first half of the story is told from his point of the view and the second half by the woman. Uniquely written. The story jumps around between different time periods, even every two or three paragraphs sometimes, which is very confusing because there is no break in the writing. But once you realize this, you pick up on the flow and get used to it. The main characters a ...more
One of the best uses of point of view I have ever read...even Faulkner
I'm a sucker for WW2 books. You should be too. This is a really good one.
Alison Beightol
this is one of my all time favorite books.
Very thought provoking
Interesting subject matter but poorly executed and poorly written, in my opinion. Probably a love-it-or-hate-it kind of book. The way the narrative constantly skips between different times is frustrating, an unnecessary obstacle to understanding the story, but you can get accustomed to it; the greater problem for me was the writing. Some passages are just boring in construction:
I took Ilse from Marta's arms and laid her on the couch. Ilse pulled her legs up tight against her body. Her eyes clos
I won this book in a giveaway from GoodReads.

When I first started reading this book, my head got so jumbled by the writing style. It took me a few minutes to pick up on it. The writer blends different times and occurrences together without a jump or new chapter. They just kinda end and begin with a similar statement or key word. After adjusting to this new style of writing, I kind of enjoyed it. It kept me on my toes, waiting to get back to certain stories.

This book is separated into three parts
Alexandria Constantinova Szeman (aka Sherri Szeman) is a poet. This is critical information for readers. The Kommandant's Mistress reads like poetry; it sounds like poetry. It feels like poetry. Yet despite the stream-of-consciousness prose Szeman employed to build the story, the horror was not blunted, nor did I find it unrealistically or theatrically emphasized. I would recommend Szeman's notes and discussion (included with the book).
Mar 29, 2014 Sabrina rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: No one--life is too short to read bad books
If this were a movie, it would show smash cut after smash cut of 2-5 min. scenes, leaving the viewer to think, "What the....?"
The author writes, "People often ask if I write the novel in chronological order, cut the scenes apart, then throw them up in the air and picked them up randomly."
Although she says that she didn't, I don't believe her. After reading this book, all I can say is, "What the....?"
T Ewell
This book has a brilliant writing style. It was told through three sections and three different perspectives. The last line/image of one snapshot was the first line/image of the next snapshot, which was poetic and intriguing. It has mature situations so I would not recommend it to my students but it paints a perspective on the Holocaust that I have not read before.
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Award-winning & critically acclaimed author of The Kommandant's Mistress, and ten other books, longing for fame, fortune, and dark chocolate instead.

Formerly writing as "Sherri" because 1st editor said "real name wouldn't fit on cover of book" and that she wanted "an easy first name" to go with Szeman's "hard last name"; subsequent agents/editors "didn't want to lose name recognition of The Ko
More about Alexandria Constantinova Szeman...
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