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The Good at Heart

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  392 ratings  ·  84 reviews
Based on the author’s discoveries about her great-grandfather, this stunning debut novel takes place over three days when World War II comes to the doorstep of an ordinary German family living in an idyllic, rural village near the Swiss border.

When World War II breaks out, Edith and Oskar Eberhardt move their family—their daughter, Marina; son-in-law, Franz; and their gran
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published February 21st 2017 by Atria Books
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Average rating 3.80  · 
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Diana • Book of Secrets
I love historical fiction set during World War II, and this one was a bit different since it focused on a German family whose patriarch is a member of Hitler’s cabinet. Oskar Eberhardt has moved his family – wife, daughter, and granddaughters – to a small village close to the Swiss border called Blumental. Here they’ll be protected from most of the horrors of the war, or so it seems. Within the town, there are people who support the Führer or seem apathetic, and those who oppose the Nazis and wi ...more
Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede
I was quite taken with the stunning cover and the blurb intrigued me. Escpailly the fact that the book was based on her discovery about her great-grandfather. I found the start of the book great with the introduction of the characters that live in Blumental. I especially loved the viewpoint of little Rosie, the youngest daughter of Mariana. I'm used to reading books about WW2 from the Allies side of the story, so reading a book set in Germany was a nice change. As I wrote before did I find the s ...more
Touchstone Books
Nov 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Growing up, Ursula Werner did not know much about her great-grandfather, except that he was a member of Hitler's Cabinet. This gorgeous debut novel is inspired by her own family history, and we are so proud to publish it.
Jennifer Berger-Diack
May 13, 2018 rated it did not like it
I hate it when I can’t finish a book. I tried so hard but I was bored. I made it half way through the book waiting for something to happen and nothing. Very slow I finally gave up. Reading is my enjoyment and pleasure. If I have to try so hard and put in actual effort to attempt to make it through then it’s Just not worth it.
A poingnant story of love and sacrifice. I enjoyed how the author presented the POV of the kids & their example of how they embraced life. Great ending. ...more
"In spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart. I simply can't build up my hopes on a foundation consisting of confusion, misery, and death. I see the world gradually being turned into a wilderness, I hear the ever approaching thunder, which will destroy us too, I can feel the sufferings of millions and yet, if I look up into the heavens, I think that it will all come right, that this cruelty too will end, and that peace and tranquility will return again."
~~Anne F
Aug 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: historical
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Maureen Timerman
Jan 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017
I love stories that are based on fact, and this one did not let me down, from the first page forward we get an in-depth look at the lives of the Eberhardt family, and the parts they played in WWII over a two-day period.
Made me think how I would feel if my father was involved with something that I detested, and then deciding to go him against by helping others. We are in a small village in Germany in 1944 and the family has just found out they are to serve the Furhur or Emperor as he is also know
Karen Macedo
Feb 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
I received this book in a goodreads giveaway. This story revolves around three days in 1944, A during World War II in a small town in Germany near Switzerland. The father of the family is a member of the Fuhrer's cabinet which causes tension in the family. A great read. If you like Historical Fiction about World War II I would recommend this...
Feb 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, ww-2, 2018
At the start of World War II, the Eberhardt family moved from tense Berlin to a quiet village near the Swiss border. The patriarch, Oskar, is a busy member of Hitler’s cabinet and his son-in-law, Franz, is away fighting for the Third Reich, leaving Oskar’s wife Edith, his daughter Marina, and three granddaughters to carry on life at home. The Eberhardts seem to be a loyal family doing their duty for country and Fuhrer, but they are all keeping secrets, even from each other. Marina has a lover, E ...more
Jan 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Good at Heart: A Novel by Ursula Werner
This piece of historical-fiction is based on the author’s discoveries about her great-grandfather and his family during WW II, which takes place over a three day period, in the small town of Blumental, near the Swiss border.
When WW II breaks out, Oskar Eberhardt, a member of Hitler’s cabinet, moves his family from Berlin to Blumental, wife Edith, daughter Marina, son in law Franz, and his three granddaughters. He is hardly ever there and his son in la
May 04, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2020
Whew, I am weary with World War II stories. This author writes beautifully, thoughtfully, and observant. It's just the storyline is hard. I need to take a break from World War II stories for a while.
May 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: wwii
A simple but moving book about a German family close to Hitler's regime, who may be divided in their loyalties
The Blonde Bookworm
Mar 08, 2017 rated it liked it
I am a lover of all things history, so when I was asked to review The Good at Heart, I immediately jumped at the opportunity. The story follows a family as they fight to do what is best for their family while attempting to obey the rules of their country as well. "Attempting" is the key word here folks. Some of the family members become involved in smuggling refugees across the border and the entire family is put at risk.

I loved the characters and truly enjoyed each of their personalities. The
Sep 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
Historical fiction has been my favorite genre since a teen. This book did not disappoint. It is right up there with The Book Thief and Sarah's Key.

The characters were beautifully developed. It was easy to visualize the three young sisters as they made their way around Blumental during the three days of July, 1944. It is the end of WWII and the family of women: Oma (Edith), Mutti (Marina) and her three young daughters are getting ready for a visit from The Fuhrer. Opa, Oskar, works in Berlin and
Jill Furedy
Aug 23, 2018 rated it liked it
Can't decide between 3 and 4 stars on this one. I didn't get to writing this until a few days later, and it has already faded a bit in my mind. As events are unfolding for the characters, you kind of know what's coming based on actual historical events. You are just waiting to see how they play out for each person. So the characters are very important to keeping my interest. And they mostly did. But none of them jumped off the page for me. At the beginning of the book, the prologue had me all se ...more
nikkia neil
Thanks Touchstone and netgalley for this ARC.

We can all say what we would have maybe done in a horrible situation but I think this novel comes close to the real life feelings of a family. A microcosm of a village and family in the Nazi era makes us think hard about the past and present. I don't want to say what I would do because its too hard to put myself there. this novel is the perfect springboard for this kind of discussion.

Linda Quinn
Dec 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
To read this book you'd never know it was a debut novel.. Beautifully written with nuanced characters, it explores the lives of one German family and the rest of their town over three days toward the end of WWII. I saw so many parallels, sadly, to what is happening in the United States right now. I can only hope many, many people will read it and look within themselves to determine which of the townspeople they'd like to be. If only there were more people today who were truly good at heart. I'd ...more
Apr 25, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Not every book on the topic of Germany during the war and is worth reading. Details are boring, and it takes forever to get to the point. The narrator of the audio book should have been female. The characters are mostly female, including a few little girls. It is just plain annoying to have the male narrator to try to sound like a little girl.
Rebecca Chen
Mar 17, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: cannot-finish
I found this difficult to read, the text did not have a flow that made it enjoyable. I skipped to the end and cut out about half of the book.
May 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I've been reading many stories set with a WWI and II background but this one is from a different perspective altogether. We hear of the persecuted and the persecutors but this is from a civilian German outlook, forced to live their lives under Hitler and for some members of the family only beginning to realize what was actually happening much later on in the day and then the utter horror of knowing that their men folk knew, understood and followed orders in the persecution of their fellow neighb ...more
Apr 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I received The Good at Heart as part of a Goodreads giveaway.

Taking place over three days in 1944, The Good at Heart centers on the town of Blumental and the Eberhardt family--the elderly Oskar (a member of Hitler's cabinet) and Edith (a loving mother and grandmother), their adult daughter Marina, who rebels against her father's apparent political loyalties, and Edith's three daughters, dreamy Lara, haunted Sofia, and spirited Rosie. Marina, whose husband Franz has been mentally ravaged by the w
Aug 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
My Thoughts:
I loved the story taking place over a three day period. By slowing down the timeline of days, the story had a pace I could keep up with, and understand the details of each day.
When the story began, I had no idea the attention each character would have in the story. One of Marina’s daughters has a strong role. She is a child, but the full scope of her purpose will become apparent at conclusion.
Marina and her father, Oskar, are at enmity. However, Oskar is adored by his wife and grandc
Jan 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Set in three days in July 1944, this novel, based on the author's great-grandfather, explores how good Germans condone, comply, and work against a corrupt regime. Oskar Eberhardt, a key figure in Hitler's cabinet, has moved his family to southern Germany where the war is fairly remote. When the novel opens, Oskar phones his wife to hang French flags in town because he fears the French army is fast approaching. However, an eager young German captain appears and almost hangs the burgermeister befo ...more
Nov 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
For three days during WWII, we are allowed glimpses into the lives of ordinary Germans civilians in the village of Blumental. This village is on the border with Switzerland and, as such, is highly attractive to people who wish to escape Germany. At the same time, the townspeople do not escape notice of the Nazis. "An egotistical Nazi captain terrorizes the citizens he's assigned to protect; neighbors spy on each other; some mysteriously disappear.

So, during these three days, we watch the town as
rhonda  granquist
Jun 25, 2018 rated it liked it
This was a good read .

Another WWII novel about Oskar, an officer in the nazi party, his wife, Edith, their daughter Marina and her 3 little girls . Oskar moves his family out of Berlin to a small town just this side of the Swiss border. Oskar was gone a lot so the women had to make due. Eric Wolfe was a son Oskar never had and he was in love with Marina. Eric and Marina were in the resistance group and were preparing to move 2 little girls to
Switzerland. The night of the move, it was announced t
Jun 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
This truly was a beautiful book. Although the scope of the writing covered only 3 days in the life of the Eberhardt family in Germany during World War II, the feelings of the characters for one another and the history behind those feelings filled in the past. The story raised the recurring question of how much the average German actually knew and how many followed because the consequences for not following were unthinkable. It's the story of how a single evil person, or a few evil people, can in ...more
Mar 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
The title of this book comes from a quote of Anne Frank "In spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart.

The story takes place over a period of three days in the small German town of Blumenthal. The family patriarch (Oskar Eberhardt) is a member of Hitler's cabinet and this causes very mixed feelings in the family - they adore their father but don't understand why he would be a cohort of Hitler's. Oskar was the great grandfather of the author of the book which is ver
Oct 01, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: ww-ii
Overall a good book, but the storytelling felt a little flat. The matriach, Edith; her daughter, Marina; and three granddaughters live together in a small German town near Switzerland. Edith's husband, Oskar, is a member of Hilter's cabinet. The tale focuses on three days during which Hitler pays a visit to the family's home. Much intrigue in this small community and the main characters face difficult questions about familial loyalty, betrayal and courage. I liked the main characters and their n ...more
Mar 27, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thank you goodreads for sending me a copy of this book. I like the book cover and think the title is very fitting. This is good historical fiction that takes place over three days during WWII. It is centered around a German family whose patriarch is in Hitler's cabinet and the other two menfolk are in the armed services. Various other Blumental citizens interact with the family and the town's comings and goings.

I really liked the opening day, especially Rosie. I thought things got a little flat
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Ursula Werner is a writer and attorney currently living in Washington D.C. with her family. Born in Germany and raised in South Florida, she has engaged in creative writing while practicing law part time, publishing two books of poetry, In the Silence of the Woodruff (2006) and Rapunzel Revisited (2010). The Good at Heart is her first novel.

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