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The Women in the Castle

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  56,678 ratings  ·  6,506 reviews
Three women, haunted by the past and the secrets they hold

Set at the end of World War II, in a crumbling Bavarian castle that once played host to all of German high society, a powerful and propulsive story of three widows whose lives and fates become intertwined—an affecting, shocking, and ultimately redemptive novel from the author of the New York Times Notable Book The H

Hardcover, 356 pages
Published March 28th 2017 by William Morrow
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Average rating 3.85  · 
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 ·  56,678 ratings  ·  6,506 reviews

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Will Byrnes
Suddenly she saw everything in its harsh, naked state. She felt the pulse of the lives lived inside the mean little house she passed: selfish or generous, kind or unkind, ugly or tolerable, almost all of them sad. And she saw the histories of the people passing by like x-rays stamped on their faces—ugly, mutinous tracings of dark and light: a woman who had ratted out a neighbor, a man who had shot children, a soldier who had held his dying friend in his arms. Yet here they were, carrying gro
Elyse  Walters
The storytelling grabs you IMMEDIATELY!!! I LOVE IT!!!!!
This tour de force of historical imagination is set primarily in Germany before during and after WWII focusing on the lives of three women and their children.

You'll meet Marianne, "The Commander of the wives and Children.
Marianne was married to Albreht Von Lingenfels, from a long line of revered German Generals, who wanted to help bring Hitler to the court of law with the support of the outside world.

Connie Fledermann, from an old once-r
*3.75-ish stars (rounded up)*

The Women in the Castle is a riveting novel that hits home with the notion that sometimes it’s our shared experiences—no matter how horrific—rather than our strongly-held beliefs or common views of the world, that can bind us together and leave a lasting impression.

Jessica Shattuck takes a different approach with her WWII story, opting to relay the devastation through the eyes of three distinct German women. Women that stumble and make mistakes along the way, like w
Always Pouting
Jun 12, 2017 rated it liked it
At the end of World War II Marianne von Lingenfels tracks down her childhood friend, Connie Flederman's son Martin and his wife Benita. Marianne had made Connie a promise to take care of his family if anything happened to him. Her husband Albrecht and Connie, as well as various others, had been a part of a plot to try and assassinate Hitler that fell through leading to their execution. Marianne feels responsible after promising her support to Albercht as his wife to take care of the other widows ...more
Shelby *trains flying monkeys*
For all the horror of the official reports she and Albrecht had seen, with their language of "extermination" and "elimination," they could not come close to conjuring this. How could they? There was no point of reference. Later, such footage would come to be so familiar it became unseen-a kind of placeholder for human evil. The first black-and-white glimpse of barbed wire, dirt, and nakedness cautioned viewers, look away. But in this moment, in the first unveiling, it was nothing she or anyone e ...more
Angela M
Jan 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
I started reading this a couple of days after Holocaust Remembrance Day and on that day I thought about how it should be remembered more than on just one day each year . This is why I really believe that reading books about WWII and the Holocaust is so important. This book certainly made me remember the horrors of what happened during WWII , but this was from a perspective that we are not used to reading from. The war and what happened to so many looms in the background but is always there. The ...more
Apr 23, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: ww2
Captivated initially by the premise and cover but disappointed in the historical detail delivered. This book just wasn't what I was hoping for

Set at the end of World War II, in a crumbling Bavarian castle that once played host to all of German high society. This is the story of Three women haunted by the past and the secrets they hold

I was really looking forward to a strong historical fiction novel with good character development and interesting historical detail but this one fell flat for me f
May 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
I found this to be a dramatic and an uniquely told story that gave me a new understanding and a different perspective on this time period of World War II that I have never experienced before while reading a Historical Fiction novel.

THE WOMEN IN THE CASTLE by JESSICA SHATTUCK is an intriguing, powerful, difficult, and thought-provoking read about the struggles and relationships of three widowed women.  Their lives and fates become intertwined by a vow that our main character, Marianne made to her
Diane S ☔
Sep 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
Three women, Marianne, Benita and Ania, from different walks of life, but all have one thing in common. They have survived the holocaust, the plot to kill Hitler which took two of their husbands and for Ania, the evil in which she found herself involved. It is the immediate aftermath in Bavaria, of this terrible and horrific time, a promise made by Marianne will bring these women and their children together where they now must depend on each other for all their survival.

Although this is a novel
Jan 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

The Women in the Castle begins with the Prologue at Burg Lingenfels, site of a Bavarian Castle. The year is 1938, setting a picture of the pre-war days, the Countess’s famous harvest party is being assembled, organized, and hosting this party is Marianne von Lingelfels, niece-in-law of the Countess, accompanied by her husband, Albrecht, her once-upon-a-time professor.

Hosting the party was like setting up a civilization on the moon. But this was part of what kept people comin
May 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
Burg Lingenfels Castle is the setting for a yearly gathering of German aristocrats. The countess of the castle has always encouraged intellectual sparring on liberal, bohemian or risque topics. Niece-in-law Marianne von Lingenfels hosts the festivities. Marianne's husband Albrecht, a university professor, and family friend Connie Fledermann, along with several other male guests are engaged in serious discussions in the study. Focusing on the world at large, Albrecht and Connie determine that the ...more
Jan 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Lovers of historical and/or WWII fiction
World War II novels are seemingly never out of style, and the public appetite for them is insatiable. Besides the pantheon of classic and important reads from nonfiction to darkly comic war novels to demo-crossing YA reads, for the past three years a WWII book with a special alchemy has penetrated public consciousness and been THE BOOK you must read: in 2014, All the Light We Cannot See; 2015, The Nightingale; 2016 (on a smaller scale), Lilac Girls. This is a book that has great storytelling, en ...more
Iris P
The Women in the Castle: A Novel

★★★★ 4 Impressive Stars!

"The historian will tell you what happened, the novelist will tell you what it felt like.”

E.L. Doctorow

"I received a free advance e-copy of this book from HarperCollins via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review, thank you!

There's something about learning history through the eyes of fictional characters that engages our senses and crystallizes the impact world affairs have had in humani
Sep 24, 2017 rated it liked it
I am most likely going to be in the minority when I say that this book did not blow me away. I struggled with this book. I will even go so far to say that I thought it was a snooze-fest at times. That's right! I found some parts to be downright boring and felt the story dragged on and on. The book started out fine for me and then I lost my interest, then my interest picked back up and then I felt bored again. I have been reading a lot of books that have gripped me lately and not let go, this one ...more
Brenda ~Traveling Sisters Book Reviews
5 Stunning Stars

The Women in the Castle is a remarkable, elegant and well-crafted story that left me quietly closing my eyes and thinking about each character and contemplating their stories and decisions. Giving me a highly satisfying feeling.

I was highly engaged in the relationships of these three interesting and memorable women and their stories that took me on an emotional journey as I learned how their relationships formed, grew and changed. They are flawed, damaged and brave women who cre
one of my most unpopular bookish opinions is that about 50% of all historical fiction is completely interchangeable to me.

this is part of that 50%.

that's all the review i've got.

2.5 stars


i love to receive advance copies of books and then read them 3 years after they come out

i won this book in a goodreads giveaway. i know i am the worst
Lindsay - Traveling Sisters Book Reviews
4 stars! This was an intriguing and important WWII novel that I thoroughly enjoyed.

This book tells the story of the connection of three very different women living in a German castle before, during and after WWII – the novel examines their struggles, secrets, motherhood challenges, hopes and relationships that helped them endure these grueling years. I liked each of the main characters, Marianne, Ania and Benita. They each grew on me more and more as I read further into their personal background
May 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Not just another World War 2 novel! The Women in the Castle takes a different and intriguing approach, concentrating on the women who are left behind instead of the men who go off to fight.
Especially interesting to me was the way the author dealt with the aftermath, a time of rebuilding and dealing with grief and guilt. We all know stories of battles and glory but the three women in this story show us how hard it must have been to recover from so much damage and to raise children who had themse
Jun 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
As I read the first several pages of The Women in the Castle, I knew that this was going to be a good read. What I didn't know was how very good it was going to be. The story follows three widows during the years after World War II. These women are very different people with different strengths, flaws and secrets. They are alike in that they are all German trying to live with what they did or didn't do and the guilt or "moral clarity" that accompanies their actions. Devastating. I highly recomme ...more
May 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As many novels as I've read about WWII this is the first I've read that focuses mainly on its aftermath. I liked that with the characters I was able to garner insight into how non Jewish Germans viewed Hitler and his ideology. I thought the ending was a bit anticlimatic, but overall a very good story. ...more
Bam cooks the books ;-)
In this remarkable work of WWII historical fiction, Shattuck tells the story of three German women whose husbands were resistors and were killed for planning the assassination of Hitler. The prologue introduces us to the von Lingenfels family on the night of their annual party--November 9, 1938--the night that would later be called Kristallnacht. The men had slipped into the office at the castle to discuss their plans, when Albrecht von Lingelfels' wife Marianne interrupts. Her childhood friend, ...more
Cathrine ☯️
Mar 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: edelweiss
I’ve read many WWII books and friends may note that I’m often not singing praises to those written by women too heavily influenced with female energy, melodrama, and romance. For example, I was not as enamored with The Nightingale to which this has been compared. I say it's more in league with All the Light We Cannot See. Initially I was not interested in this until I read early reviews from friends who told me this one might be more to my liking (Oh thank you wise readers). Edelweiss and Ha
She half knew - but there is no word for that. She knew it the way you know something is happening far away in a distant land, something you have no control over...

One of the things I really liked about this book is that it provided some insight into how Germans lived after WWI, and why some of them became Nazis. It also looks at the guilt experience after WWII. Through the three main characters, Marianne, Benita and Ania we are shown very different lives in this same harsh setting, and how peop
Jul 17, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: kindle
3 stars -3.5 stars.

Earlier this year, The Women in the Castle was alighting my newsfeed with early praise and fantastically written reviews. I find myself sort of middle of the road with my feelings on the story. The synopsis of the book and my other reviewers give a great rundown of the plot, so I'll jump into my holiday thoughts.

What I liked:

1) Jessica Shattuck really created an atmosphere of Germany from the perspective of three very determined and strong minded women living in Nazi Germany
I have read so many excellent stories of World War II, and after a while they seem to blend into one another with just a few of them remaining especially memorable. Also just a few have brought real tears to my eyes as I don't easily cry over books. This was one, and I already know it is going to be a story I remember and think back on for a long time to come. The writing is so gorgeous and fraught with emotion, and the characters are so very real and sympathetic.

Marianne is the niece-in-law of
Nov 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
If you liked The Nightingale, you will probably enjoy this tale of strong, resilient women on the wrong side of WW 2. It is down right hard to make those on the wrong side of history sympathetic, but here it is accomplished. I was hesitant at first, because I disliked The Reader and hated Gone With the Wind, but this book was a pleasant surprise. She doesn't sugarcoat the wrongs committed by "ordinary Germans", but she illustrates how horror can happen anywhere. ...more
Connie G
Oct 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
Albrecht von Lingenfel and his friends in the German resistance conspired to bring down Adolf Hitler. When their plans fail, the group of men are executed. The widowed Marianne von Lingenfel searches for the wives and children of the other conspirators to offer them a home in the decaying family castle after World War II ends. She finds Benita, Ania, and their children living in various terrible circumstances.

The backstories of these women are fascinating. Through their pasts we see the initial
Although I appear to be in the vast minority, and usually love this genre of book (historical fiction, especially related to WWII), The Women in the Castle just fell flat for me. Perhaps it was because I have read far better books in this genre, but the characters really felt flat to me, and never came alive as I hoped. I found I just didn't care about them. I almost feel like I should apologize, but I won't. This book either hit me at the wrong time, or just isn't for me.

Many thanks to Goodread
Elizabeth of Silver's Reviews
Dec 15, 2016 rated it really liked it

Before,​ during​,​ and after the war Marianne was there to support everyone even though she had lost everything except her ​castle and her children.

Marianne previously lived in a castle with her husband, Albrecht and her children before the Germans took it over. Her ​husband was a member of the resistance but was killed by the Germans along with other members. His request was for Marianne to take care of the families of other members if he and his fellow members were killed.

Marianne complied wit
Jun 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Opening in 1938, this novel begins with a party, held at Burg Lingenfels. Marianne von Lingenfels is the niece-in-law of the countess who lives in the castle, and she is acting as hostess. Her husband, Albrecht, her former professor, is less interested in the harvest party and more concerned in political events. Kristallnacht unfolds on the evening of that party, when Albrecht, and his fellow conspirators, agree to fight the Nazi regime. One of the men there, that evening, is Martin Constantine ...more
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Jessica Shattuck is the New York Times Bestselling author of the novels The Women in the Castle, The Hazards of Good Breeding, a New York Times Notable Book and finalist for the PEN/Winship Award, and Perfect Life. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, The New Yorker, Glamour, Mother Jones, Wired, and The Believer, among others. She received her MFA from Columbia University. Shattuck now ...more

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“Years later, as a professor, Martin would try to find the words to articulate the power of togetherness in a world where togetherness had been corrupted -- and to explore the effect of the music, the surprising lengths the people had gone to to hear it and to play it, as evidence that music, and art in general, are basic requirements of the human soul. Not a luxury but a compulsion. He will think of it every time he goes to a museum or a concert or a play with a long line of people waiting to get inside.” 15 likes
“For so long Marianne and Albrecht and many of their friends had known Hitler was a lunatic, a leader whose lowbrow appeal to people's most selfish, self-pitying emotions and ignorance was an embarrassment for their country.” 13 likes
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