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The Kommandant's Girl #1

The Kommandant's Girl

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Nineteen-year-old Emma Bau has been married only three weeks when Nazi tanks thunder into her native Poland. Within days Emma's husband, Jacob, is forced to disappear underground, leaving her imprisoned within the city's decrepit, moldering Jewish ghetto. But then, in the dead of night, the resistance smuggles her out. Taken to Krakow to live with Jacob's Catholic aunt, Krysia, Emma takes on a new identity as Anna Lipowski, a gentile.
Emma's already precarious situation is complicated by her introduction to Kommandant Richwalder, a high-ranking Nazi official who hires her to work as his assistant. Urged by the resistance to use her position to access details of the Nazi occupation, Emma must compromise her safety—and her marriage vows—in order to help Jacob's cause. As the atrocities of war intensify, so does Emma's relationship with the Kommandant, building to a climax that will risk not only her double life, but also the lives of those she loves.

395 pages, Paperback

First published February 7, 2023

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About the author

Pam Jenoff

26 books5,050 followers
Pam is the author of several novels, including her most recent The Woman With The Blue Star, as well as The Lost Girls of Paris and The Orphan's Tale, both instant New York Times bestsellers. Pam was born in Maryland and raised outside Philadelphia. She attended George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and Cambridge University in England. Upon receiving her master’s in history from Cambridge, she accepted an appointment as Special Assistant to the Secretary of the Army. The position provided a unique opportunity to witness and participate in operations at the most senior levels of government, including helping the families of the Pan Am Flight 103 victims secure their memorial at Arlington National Cemetery, observing recovery efforts at the site of the Oklahoma City bombing and attending ceremonies to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of World War II at sites such as Bastogne and Corregidor.

Following her work at the Pentagon, Jenoff moved to the State Department. In 1996 she was assigned to the U.S. Consulate in Krakow, Poland. It was during this period that Pam developed her expertise in Polish-Jewish relations and the Holocaust. Working on matters such as preservation of Auschwitz and the restitution of Jewish property in Poland, Jenoff developed close relations with the surviving Jewish community.

Having left the Foreign Service in 1998 to attend law school at the University of Pennsylvania, Jenoff practiced law at a large firm and in-house for several years. She now teaches law school at Rutgers.

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5 stars
8,805 (33%)
4 stars
10,804 (41%)
3 stars
5,234 (19%)
2 stars
1,118 (4%)
1 star
384 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,062 reviews
March 8, 2017
5 stars! What an excellent historical fiction novel! I thoroughly enjoyed everything about the storyline. I find it hard to believe this was written 10 years ago and there hasn't been more hype surrounding it.

The story revolves around nineteen-year-old Emma in war-torn Poland, whose husband flees underground to help the resistance fighters. She takes on a new identity as Anna, to hide her Jewish heritage. Wanting to do whatever it takes to help her husbands' cause, Anna takes a job as the Kommandant's personal assistant and from there the story evolves into Anna's secret mission to find information to help the resistance. I always find it very interesting to read about war-time resistance groups and how they secretly planned Nazi sabotage. How brave and courageous these resistance fighters were!

I absolutely loved Emma/Anna. She was such a kind, loving, naive and determined woman who got caught up in her fight against the Nazi's. I found her inner confusion about her feelings toward the Kommandant very interesting as she struggled between her duty for the resistance and her growing feelings toward the enemy.

The author, Pam Jenoff, packs a lot of history, suspense and emotion into this well-written debut novel! All characters were very well-developed and the atmosphere she creates is unforgettable. I had a hard time putting the book down and when I wasn't reading it, I was certainly thinking about it. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical fiction. I am really looking forward to reading the sequel, "The Diplomat's Wife"!
Profile Image for Crumb.
189 reviews517 followers
September 2, 2017
Brilliant. I give this book five stars without hesitation.

Emma Bau has just married the love of her life, Jacob, when the Nazis come and occupy Poland during WWII. It is a dangerous time in Poland, made even more so by the fact that they are Jews. Although Jacob wants to be with his wife, he has strong ties to the resistance movement and immediately goes underground. Emma is stricken by this, but goes to live with her parents in the ghetto. The conditions in the ghetto are terrible: food is scarce, disease is rampant. In the dead of night, a member of the resistance smuggles Emma out of the ghetto. She is to start her life over again as a gentile with Jacob's Catholic aunt, Krysia and a little boy, Luckasz, whom lost his mother in the ghetto. And just like that, Anna Lipinski is born.

Krysia thinks the best way to introduce Emma as "Anna" is by having a dinner party. Krysia teaches Anna about Catholic customs and even gives her a crucifix to wear for good measure. Everything is going well until the Kommandant arrives. The Kommandant takes an immediate liking to Anna and wants her to come work for him as a personal assistant. What happens between them next.. well..let's just say that it gets pretty complicated!

When historical fiction is done right, you should feel like you are transported back to that era - and I did. I truly felt like I was on a journey with these characters; a marker of excellent historical fiction. Pam Jenoff has such a beautiful way with words. I could tell that the author put a lot of time and dedication into this debut. I fell in love with Anna and I felt her struggles as if they were my own. When I give a book 5 stars, I give it such a rating because I love everything about the book: the writing, plot, characters, etc. I never wanted it to end. I will definitely be reading the next two books in the series: The Ambassador's Daughter and The Diplomat's Wife. This book is not one that will soon be forgotten.
Profile Image for Jennifer Eckel.
310 reviews
June 4, 2010
A standard paragrah in Ms. Jenoff's book includes at least 2 uses of the word Okay. How do you feel? Okay. For a novel set in Poland in the depths of WWII this word is inappropriate. It's frequency made me cringe.
Ms Jenoff also had issues with time. The phrase, it was the second winter of the war and the Kommandant could tell that the war was going badly.
Excuse me, that would be the winter of '40-41 and Germany stood supreme on the European Continent. The book roughly covers only the time frame 1939 through early 1941, yet the killing camps are already built (not a fact) and no attention made to the victories of 1940. The killing camps were built after the Russian invasion when the Nazi's realized that their Einzengruppen could not handle the killing fields.- The book barely mentions the privations Pole's faced as food rations were cut and cut again for these Ubermenschen. True the heroine has priveleges as a mistress to a senior Nazi, but she seems oblivious and unsure as to why she opposes the Nazis. The heroine in her innocence seems shallow. True she grows, but never quite resolves or feels passion for anything. She drifts.

"Schindler's list" which has the same location as this book, and "The ZooKeeper's Wife", or even The Painted Bird give a far far better portrayal of life in occupied Poland during WWII.
Profile Image for Cathleen.
1,060 reviews38 followers
June 17, 2016
2 1/2 stars. My book group liked this much more than I did, though even fans admitted to being distracted by the frequent use of "okay" by a young woman in this time (and to her Nazi supervisor, no less) as well as disappointed by the mash-up of coincidences in the last fourth of the book. It felt a little wrong, too, that I was much more tense in some of her early spy efforts than in the climactic danger scene. It's not a bad book, but it seemed to skim the surface in a lot of ways, and I had simply hoped for more in which to invest.

I will say I really liked the character of Krysia, and secondly, it was interesting how Jenoff could create empathy for a Nazi Kommandant. Emma, though admittedly young, struck me as more self-absorbed than I would have hoped in a heroine in these circumstances, and I thought it significant that .
Profile Image for Olivia.
22 reviews27 followers
July 14, 2016
This novel epitomised for me everything that is cynical, vulgar and manipulative about the romance genre.
For the first hundred pages Jenoff does a pretty good job of creating the plight of a Jewish girl in Krakow during the Nazi occupation. Emma is recently married but her husband, a member of the Resistance, goes into hiding. Emma, along with her parents, is forced into the Ghetto. She is then rescued and given a Christian identity and eventually hired as secretary to a Nazi Kommandant where, it is hoped, she might be able to perform invaluable work for the resistance. So far so good. The prose, if uninspired, is simple and self-contained; the characters are engaging and the detail of description is convincing. You feel there might be a good story to tell here. Until the descriptions of the Kommandant’s good looks, his olive skin, his strong demeanour, his underlying vulnerable side start coming thick and fast and what we have is the usual cliché of the romantic hero. Emma begins blushing, palpitating and going weak at the knees several times a day and succumbs to “the chemistry” between herself and the Nazi. Now the plight of the Jews in Krakow takes a backseat to the soft porn of romance genre fiction. Emma is encouraged by the resistance to sleep with the Kommandant so as to get access to his secret papers which she dutifully does. What follows are pages and pages of her hot blooded dilemma. She retches; she blushes; she flinches; she gets jealous when the Kommandant shows any interest in other women. I’m afraid at this point I cast this novel aside.

If you want to read a truly complex and moving novel about a woman sleeping with the enemy I suggest you try Suite Française by Irène Némirovsky where all the moral complexities of such an act are treated with great subtlety and artistry. This, on the other hand, is just pulp. It’s a shame Pam Jenoff, who can write quite well, feels the need to pimp her talent to overtly commercial aims, cynically exploiting the Holocaust as the backdrop for titillating formulaic soft porn fiction.
Profile Image for Lucy.
146 reviews11 followers
July 13, 2014
I wasted a whole train journey reading this. Why did I dislike this book, you ask? Well, let's just say I wish I had left it on public transport.

Well, for one, the characters, for the most part were awful. There were three varying degrees of characters in this book.
Stage 1: Oh wow, these characters have substance! I feel for them, and at times they are pretty complex. These two characters Krysia and Georg Richwalder. I really appreciated how Jenoff tried to make Richwalder into somebody rather than a stereotypical Nazi.
Stage 2: These are the majority of the characters in this book. They had little or no character development, likewise, little or no character and yet they are meant to be important characters. For example, Jacob, Marta and Alek. I didn’t really have much of a strong opinion on them.
Stage 3: The most annoying character in this book was Emma. She had no real personality apart from the fact that she was incredibly innocent/ naive and stupid. She is constantly dropping things and jumping around the place. I was at a loss how she ever became a member of the Resistance – with such a vital job – as she was sure to give the game away.

Another thing which was badly done was the writing. It was so full of clichés it was hard to digest and it felt far, far too modern for 1939-1941. Emma kept saying Okay. No, this was not okay.

The plot, above all, was predictable, which I suppose was ok as I could read it quicker.I was pretty interested in it as often I couldn't put it down. However, the ending was ridiculous, silly and melodramatic.

I would say that the passing of time in this book felt that it should have been slower. A lot of time was spent reading about passages about how a month had passed since the last chapter. I suppose, I thought those months that passed could’ve been filled with foreshadowing, character development or what have you.

There was another thing that irked me. It was a blatant historical error. It is 1940-’41, when Germany is doing well in the war. Yet, Richwalder tells Emma that Germany was doing badly in the war… well, at that point they weren’t.
Profile Image for Lewis Weinstein.
Author 9 books492 followers
July 3, 2019
a well-done story that blends history and imagination in a moving way ... captures the atmosphere and confusion of terrifying times ... kept my interest from start to finish
Profile Image for Cristina .
450 reviews63 followers
August 21, 2015
I love WWII fiction, especially if it has the element of romance. I live for those books but sadly, a lot of them aren't very good. The blurb for The Kommandant's Girl had me totally intrigued and seemed right up my alley. Unfortunately, it was a disappointment.

There's only one way I can describe this story...it felt breezy. Superficial. Also, the dialogue felt incredibly American and the conversations, at least to me, didn't seem to have a lot of depth. It was suppose to be a story filled with history, suspense, intrigue and romance, but instead, it was a lot of internal dialogue and it felt rushed. The burn of any type of push and pull between the heroine and the anti-hero was non-existent.

I think the one thing that bothered me the most was the immediate attraction of our Jewish heroine to the high-ranking Nazi, the anti-hero. And when I say immediate, I mean immediate. He walks through the door, they lock eyes and the rest of the room fades to black. It's overly dramatic, it doesn't feel genuine and why the heroine, who happens to be Jewish, would be immediately attracted to a Nazi, came across as unbelievable.

This book had a few good parts but unfortunately, certain topics were glossed over and the overall story was poorly executed.
Profile Image for Oana I..
12 reviews4 followers
February 8, 2019
I rarely give out one star ratings, but this was just painful to read. not only is the prose flat and uninteresting, but the characters, the plot, and the conflict in this novel, all of which ought to have been gripping considering the premise, felt forced and stilted. I have so many issues with this novel I don't even know where to begin.

For starters, the characters had all the complexity and depth of cardboard cut-outs. Everything about their interactions with each other, which ought to have been complicated and nuanced, felt awkward and ham-fisted. As you can probably guess from the blurb, this is the story of a young Polish-Jewish woman, Emma, whose husband is involved with an underground Jewish resistance movement, and who becomes involved with the movement herself after escaping (in the most anticlimactic way imaginable) from the ghetto the Nazis set up in their city. Her beloved husband Jacob is absent for most of the novel, and Emma never lets you forget it because she thinks about her pure uncomplicated feelings for him constantly, though she barely knew him a year before they got married and he went underground pretty soon after that. Jacob himself is written into this shining paragon of perfection with absolutely no discernible flaw (or distinguishing character traits), which might have been meant to make the reader care about him, but he just comes off as boring and inconsequential to the actual events of the story. I mean, if he up and died in the middle of the book, it would have hardly changed the course of the story, except Emma would then wax poetic about how much she misses him twice as often. Emma's powerful feelings for her absent heroic husband are meant to cause tension and raise the stakes when the Kommandant enters the picture and Emma begins working with him/spying on him for the resistance and they are *gasp* irresistibly attracted to each other. Shocking, I know. I won't get into the faux-pas of having a married Orthodox Jewish woman have feeling for a Nazi, even if these feelings are "complicated", because such a thing needs to be handled with far more care than Jenoff's heavy-handed writing could manage, but anyway. Emma and Jacob are so boring, you'd think this new elicit affair might be interesting, but it is instead just awkward and uncomfortable. All of their interactions are so forced, and Jenoff really overdoes the brushing of knuckles and the meeting of gazes, without actually investing time into convincing the reader that there is actual meaning behind all these. The Kommandant's sudden interest in Emma when they meet is unexplained beyond a sort of "coup de foudre" love at first sight tackiness that makes zero sense. As for Emma, she'll never let you forget how conflicted she feels about all this by ceaselessly monologuing internally about how she "should hate him" because he's a Nazi, but she's just so drawn to him, but oh the guilt, but he's so handsome, but he disgusts her, but she must do this for the resistance, and oh the pain! It all comes off so artificial and fabricated, I couldn't believe it for a second. The Kommandant himself is probably the worst version of the "sympathetic Nazi" trope I have seen to date. He is shown to be a kind man, and yet we are also vaguely informed of his vague complicity with Nazi war crimes. Basically, I never actually felt the implications of this man being a high ranking Nazi officer, ever. He may as well have been any sort of authority figure with party membership (think, Schindler in Schindler's List) and nothing would have changed, except maybe Emma would have less of a reason to spy on him. I also have to comment on Emma's "spy work", because it was virtually non-existent and yet the plot is supposed to revolve around her resistance activity. She is literally useless to the movement, for all the espionage she accomplishes. It's really no wonder she never raises any suspicion (but Jenoff never neglects to tell you how dangerous her life is, though there is no real evidence of her ever being put in danger in the entire novel. This girl literally walks into a ghetto and, in a real Deus Ex Machina move, just walks right out again (out of a nazi wwii polish ghetto, wtf jenoff what do you think this is!!).

The author makes these all these unnecessary grasping attempts to convince the reader of just how high the stakes are, and just how dangerous and tense Emma's situation is, without ever successfully making me feel that tension and anxiety I ought to feel considering this young Jewish girl is working in close quarters with a Nazi while also being in league with the Polish resistance. WWII and the Holocaust are the most morally complex human events of the 20th century, but you'd never guess as much from the way Jenoff wrote this story. There is so so so much more wrong with this book than I have patience to write about, so I'll just leave it at that.

I ended up skimming the second half of it because I ran out of patience, and, to be perfectly honest, I can't even justify why I ever picked up this novel; one look at the premise and I knew this probably wouldn't be a particularly noteworthy, but I was on a WWII fiction kick and thought "why not". I'd say, don't bother with this one, it's absolutely not worth the time or headache.
Profile Image for Amy.
911 reviews227 followers
May 17, 2022
Pam Jenoff is a talented author, and her wheelhouse and expertise is stories of WW2. Women, spies, the resistance, having to fake/hide one's Jewishness, while needing to live and love with a Nazi Reich Collaborator and official. Actually falling in love a little. Separated families, lost children, hidden children, often two women, usually a number of people do not make it. So many of her books have been beautifully written, and just as I am writing the review, I am reflecting on the similarity of the themes. I had made the Kommandant's Girl, my series of the year. But now I see I need a little more space with it. First, the "Zero" book in the series, had a minor character, who has a supporting role in this book. So they were not exactly linked. But this one has a sequel. The Diplomat's Wife. Which I will get to within a few months. But as much as I really liked the very well done read, I am feeling the need to separate from WW2. All the next five books that are sitting in a pile, patiently waiting, all seem to be if not directly Nazi's and Spies, then they are written in that Era. 1930's and 40's. I'm not sure I even want a historical fiction where this is somewhere in the background. Like I need a clean break. For at least just one book.

For example, I am listening to the Liz Taylor Ring on Audio. This is fluffy, light, uncomplicated. Seriously flawed not that depthful characters really messing up and fucking up with their lives in a major way, even if they are trying their best. Its siblings trying to make sense of their parents marriage and each other. Its is not by an means a not to be missed. It is merely a palate cleanser. Like the little Sorbet in elegant French restaurants meant to give you a little refreshing lightness, to offset the heavy substance of the other courses of the meal. I was very involved in the Kommandant's girl. But now I need like a contemporary light story, a mystery of sorts. Here is whats in my car. I kind of wish the Golden Couple was in there, or the Paris Apartment. My next four books were: Carnegie's Maid, Coco at the Ritz, the Spies of Shilling Lane, and the Christie Affair. As far as I am concerned, they are all needing a quick break of space. Here's whats in the car...... Abigail, Violetta, Magnificent Life of Marjorie Post, Greenwich Park, Saints of Swallow Hill, Keeper of Happy Endings, Madame Fourcards Secret War. Wait - Lessons in Chemistry may be waiting for me in the library. I may need more Palate Cleansers. Looks like I am taking a really close look at Greenwich Park and Saints of Swallow Hill. Maybe even Keeper of Happy Endings.... Guys, you have half a day to advise me or give your best suggestion.

Profile Image for Lucy.
475 reviews589 followers
May 8, 2008
I mentioned when I wrote my review on The Book Thief, how dismayed I felt when realizing that the story was set in WWII Germany. It seems to me that the market for fictional stories of the war, especially the persecution and massacre of the Jews, has been saturated.

While The Book Thief surprised me by being completely fresh in its story telling, The Kommandant's Girl, stuck to the conservative game plan and told a familiar and unimaginative story.

To be fair, the book is set in Poland, not Germany, and the story is based on a real life event the author discovered while doing her research in Poland.

Emma Bau, a newlywed whose husband has escaped to help the resistance movement, finds herself in the Jewish Ghetto living with her parents. During one night, she is awoken and smuggled out of the ghetto and set up to live as Anna Lipowski with her husband's non-Jewish aunt. At a dinner party one evening, Emma/Anna meets Kommandant Georg Richwalder, a high ranking Nazi party member, and his attraction to her leads to his hiring her to be his assistant. As his assistant, she is expected to and in fact, wants to, help the resistance by acting as a spy whenever she can. To Jenoff's credit, she attempts to give her characters depth by allowing Emma/Anna to become attracted and attached to the Kommandant, understandable considering the short length of her relationship with her husband, and considering the kind of man Kommandant Richwalder appeared to be: fair, hard working and heartbroken from his wife's earlier suicide. As their relationship progresses, she is ultimately asked to betray her marriage vows and use her relationship with the Kommandant to gain urgent information for the resistance.

The story is interesting and even well told (except for the end when the author tried to tie up too many loose strings for plot purposes), but that interesting and well told story has already been done. Many times. Unfortunately for Jenoff, whether this particular story is true or not doesn't make its telling any more consequential. In spite of its familiarity, I'd recommend Pam Jenoff's account to anyone who hasn't reached their own personal threshold of World War II Jewish fiction.
Profile Image for Viviane Cordeiro.
121 reviews14 followers
February 28, 2014
Me and my WWII universe - I mean, I cried in this one, A LOT! Even thou it is extremely predictable, I couldn't stop wondering where the author was planning to go.
I even felt bad when I noticed that I was in love with a Nazi soldier - the last time I felt this way was when I watched 'Inglourious Basterds' with my lovely Daniel Brühl. And let's face it: Kommandant Richwalder is more likable than Jacob, I know that his work for the resistance had to take him away from the story but even when he was there, I just couldn't connect with the character. :/
Maybe because I've been reading lots of WWII material some things are quite out of hand for me like how easily Emma transform herself into Anna - documents, situations, stories... I know that 'desperate times call for desperate measures' but it was so quickly, there was no trace of her previous life (she even entered in the ghetto with her parents, for Christ sake!) and I just couldn't follow it.
However, it is an entertaining reading after all, even if I personally prefer 'The Things We Cherished' as a better and most consistent story than this one.
Profile Image for rubywednesday.
846 reviews59 followers
July 16, 2015
I don't know how I even finished this one.

It started on a bad note, with the dumb ackowledments before the book even starts. The author mentions how she never knew about the Polish resistance until she got talking to a couple of holocaust survivors on a train. Now, I think it's wonderful that people learnt this way but if you are a grown, educated adult going to write fiction about ww2 I expect you to learn these things yourself by research and, like, general awareness of the facts.

The book was mostly fine but it was all surface level stuff.Lots of telling and very little showing. Nothing about the voice or language suggested it was set in Poland in the early 1940's in any real way. There were inconsistencies in the dialogue and the facts. Emma showed zero emotional insight into her predicament and you never got the sense she had any real feelings at all. Events that should have been tense and devastating were just boring.

The writing was clunky, juvenile and shallow. It should have been an emotional book but it only made me feel annoyed.
Profile Image for Rachel.
394 reviews64 followers
April 1, 2016
The most disturbing part of this book is how likeable the Kommandant is and how the reader can understand Emma falling for him. Emma's internal struggle as she begins to recognize her affections for Georg and her moral battle of being repulsed by herself for carrying those affections for him are drawn very well.

Unfortunately Jenoff choked in wrapping it up and blew the ending.

Profile Image for Seda.
538 reviews73 followers
April 10, 2019

Kitap, bütün enerjimi emdi. Uzun zamandır beni bu kadar rahatsız ve mutsuz eden bir kitap okumamıştım sanırım. Her yanım çelişki şu an. Beni rahatsız eden bir konuyu, okurken çok mutsuz olduğum bir şekilde ama çok güzel işlemişti. Alt metinde savaşı, zorluklarını, Yahudilerin yaşadıklarını, korkularını, bir grup insanın yaşamak için savaşırken, bir diğer grubun sefa içindeki hayatına devam etmesini, olanları görmezden gelmesini çok güzel anlatmıştı. Ama esas konu olarak ele aldığı aşk hikayesi, benim sevebileceğim ve kabul edebileceğim bir şekilde ilerlemedi.

Her ne kadar bu bir casusluk hikayesi olsa da, güzel ilerleyen ve özellikle sonunu çok beğendiğim bir kurgu olsa da, Emma’nın yaptıkları ve sonrasında yaşadığı çelişkiler hiç hoşuma gitmedi. Bir yanım içinde bulunduğu bu duruma üzülürken, bir yanım verdiği kararları ve duygularını sorguladı. Emma’yı çok anlayamadım, çoğu yerde kızdım ve ‘Böyle bir durumda kalsam ben ne yapardım?’ sorusuna cevap bulacak kadar karakterle empati yapamadım. Başka şartlarda yazılmış bir kadın karakter olsa, yerden yere vuracağım Emma’yı; oturduğum yerden, hiç savaş ortamı yaşamadan yargılamak çok adil gelmedi ama yaptıklarını da bir türlü kabullenemedim.

Büyükelçi’nin Kızı’ndaki gibi çoğu bölüm monolog tarzında yazılmıştı. Yine sıkılmadan, merak ederek, akıcı bir şekilde okudum. Zaten bu kadar akıcı olmasaydı, muhtemelen bu rahatsız duruma dayanamaz, yarım bırakırdım.

Kitaptaki bazı karakterlerin ismi bile spoiler olabileceğinden, önce Büyükelçinin Kızı’nı okuduğum için memnunum. Yazar, Büyükelçinin Kızı’nı, bu kitapta konusu geçen, geçmiş bir hikayeyi anlatmak için daha sonradan yazmış. Ama savaştaki olayların kronolojisi ve karakter değişimi/gelişimi açısından, Kumandanın Aşığı 2. kitap olarak okunursa daha uygun olacaktır.

Yazarın dili ve kalemi için 5; Emma’ya yaptırdıkları için 1 veresim vardı. Bu kadar olumsuz duyguyla birlikte, anlatımını ve kurgunun geri kalanını çok beğendiğim için kitabı gömmeye gönlüm razı gelmedi. Kitaptaki karakteri sevmesem de kitabı kurgusu yüzünden çok sevebilirim. (bknz.Grisha serisi😃) Ama bu kitapta Emma’dan ve yapmak zorunda kaldıklarından çok hoşlanmadığım için 2 puan kırdım.

Arka kapak, rahatsız olduğum durumla ilgili biraz spoiler verecektir. Savaş hikayelerini seviyorsanız, ‘kadın karakteri çok umursamam, beni sinirlendirmez’ diyebiliyorsanız tavsiye ederim. Ama karakteri sevmezsem kitabı da bir kalemde çizerim diyorsanız boşuna zaman kaybetmemenizi tavsiye ederim. Çünkü Emma okuyucunun sabrını ciddi anlamda zorlayan bir karakterdi.🙄🙄

Profile Image for Erin.
2,882 reviews488 followers
December 13, 2013
I just love the way that Pam Jenoff writes! The book is set in Poland during World War II and focuses on the Polish resistance movement of that time period. Pretty interesting topic but the main character's actions sent me into a lot of confusion.

Also, I cannot see how the book is classified as a "historical romance." There was plenty of sex but I had a hard time believing the love between the main character and her husband.

All in all, I did enjoy the book but not really sure that I would read it again.

Profile Image for Cheryl.
464 reviews583 followers
May 1, 2013
There is a lot I liked about this book. The most appealing thing is the angle from which Jenoff chooses to tell this story based on historical facts: it is a romance book that just happens to have a major historical event as its backdrop. I would venture to call it a romance thriller because you're definitely on the edge of your seat for some of the events.

Emma is a Jewish girl during the German invasion of Poland. She has just gotten married when her family is moved to the ghetto of Krakow (where Jews were kept hidden from the rest of the city). Her husband, a resistance fighter, arranges her escape from the ghetto and sends her to live with his wealthy aunt. As always, there is a catch: Emma must pretend to be a Pole named, Anna. She must take a little orphan and raise him as her little brother. Soon Anna (who is really Emma) is working for the resistance, and in love with a Nazi. As you can tell, this is where the story takes shape.

There are so many stages of climax here, that I can't tell more of the story without having spoilers. I will say that the pacing and tension here was just right to keep me moving on to the next chapter, waiting to see what happens next, while still learning more about each character. The story is also powerful because you know the main character's secret and it keeps you worried with her, for her.

This definitely makes me want to read the next book in this series.
Profile Image for Pamela Pickering.
519 reviews10 followers
February 11, 2008
I would probably give this book 2.5 stars. It seems I'm alone as most other reviewers gave this book 4-5 stars so I wonder if I'm missing something. I guess I expected more from the book. It was an easy read, too easy I guess would be the point. It just sort of had the feel of a Harlequin Romance and at $13 I would expect more substance. I found the main character a little frustrating at times. She was always so jumpy. In my opinion if someone is "working undercover" and is that jumpy she would have been busted very early on. She also seemed to take risks that placed her fellow resistance fighters and family in jeapordy.
Profile Image for JudiAnne.
414 reviews55 followers
March 18, 2017
in Krakow, Poland during the Nazi invasion, Emma has only been married to Jacob for a couple of months. Jacob feels that his duty is joining the resistance and so he leaves Emma with her parents. Soon the Jewish people are rounded up by the Nazis and taken to live in the ghetto. Jacob’s friends manage to get Emma, along with a toddler who’s mother was killed, out of the ghetto. She is given false papers and they arranged to have her and her “little brother” live with Jacob’s aunt. To save her life and get her out of the ghetto she becomes a Gentile named Anna.

Anna is hired by the Kommandant for office work. She lives in fear every day that someone will find out she is Jewish. The Kommandant is especially kind to her and the closer they get Anna is forced to make difficult choices for the good of the resistance.

This is a story of love and loyalty set in extreme times in Krakow. I loved the story and it kept me turning the pages. I’ve read a lot of WWII novels but none like this one. I highly recommend this book to anyone that likes WWII stories.
Profile Image for Celeste Miller.
83 reviews8 followers
February 11, 2008
SHOW, DON'T TELL. Which is not what this book does. But that's okay, it's a super-fast read, good for long car trips/plane rides, etc.

I felt like it could use a few more edits, and the dialogue sounded a bit too modern and slangy for WWII Poland. (I was not buying how often Emma said "Okay" to everyone including the Kommandant.) Character development took a back seat to plot elements, and the Kommandant never seemed like a real person to me.

However, if you're looking to write an adventure/suspense/romance novel, I'd use this an example of how to raise the stakes and never let characters get too comfortable.
Profile Image for Alona.
670 reviews12 followers
June 4, 2017
Why did I read it?

Another attempt to play the Jwish girl "falls" for the high ranking Nazi.
Och... I should know better!
Profile Image for Kübra  Yağmur Aslanhan.
1,677 reviews304 followers
January 20, 2019

Bilirsiniz, historical’ın aşığıyım. Az da olsa yirminci yüzyıl historicallarını okumuşluğum, hepsinden belli bir memnuniyetle ayrılmışlığım var. Bu kitap için de öyle olmasını bekliyordum amma velakin…


Yani hiçbir şey olmasa bu nedenle bile beğenmedim kitabı. Hani çooook naif bir kitap olacak, bana çoook dokunacak ki ben oradaki arzu eksikliğini diğer yerlerden kapatayım ama yok anam, bunda öyle bir şey de bulamadım.

Aslında kulağa çok güzel gelen bir kurgusu var.

19 yaşında kız, kısacık bir sürede tanıdığı adamla savaş var vakit yok diye evleniyor, ayrı düşüyorlar. Ülkesine yardım edebilmek için ajancılık oynuyor, bir komutanın yanında kimliğini gizleyerek çalışıyor.
Komutan deseniz 40-45, tam hatırlayamadım, tam bir sugar daddy mevzusu ama o kadar da daddy düşünmeyin, adam gayet dinç vs vs vs…
Ortada yasak bir aşk var ve ben bunu hissedemedim.

Hep savundum, savunmaya da devam edeceğim: KARAKTER AĞLIYORSA, MUTLU OLUYORSA SEVİŞEBİLMELİ!
Psikopatça gelebilir kulağa ama ben o sahneler kesildiğinde karakteri kaybediyorum çünkü karakter benden kendini saklıyor. Her anına mümkün mertebe beni dâhil ederken bir anda araya setler, bariyerler diziyor.
Ben bundan hoşlanmıyorum. Bu pornografi, erotizim sevdası değil bunun yerine gider porno izlerim, o da sorun değil burada benim sorunum karakterden bir anda kopmam. Benim için kitabın en önemli noktalarından biri bu sahneler. Sadece fiziksel olarak değil ruhsal olarak da soyunduklarından bende bir şeyler daha netleşiyor. Bir karakteri sevip sevmediğime o anda karar veriyorum.

Daha fazla uzatabilirim bu mevzuyu ama burada kalsın, gidiyorum.

Kitabın dillendirilecek daha fazla açığını bulmak zor olmaz ama ben başka nedene ihtiyaç duymadım.
Profile Image for Kellyn Roth.
Author 24 books898 followers
February 13, 2021
Depressing and without conclusion

Basically, it wasn't a very fun read. I actually appreciated the drama - but the character was quite immoral (and far too easily for a "good Jewish girl" ... I'm not saying I expect characters to behave perfectly, but she was very quick to abandon all she must have been taught since childhood!), and the author really did a huge disservice to the Jewish race. The main character was supposedly Orthodox but rarely thought about her customs, when she did it was shallow at best ("Oh no I have to pretend to be a Catholic! I'll be disgusted once and then forget about it!"), and all the thousands of little details are just ... absent. She was pretending not to be a Jew throughout much of the story, but shouldn't that have only highlighted her heritage? This kind of novel does no service to our memory of the horrors of the Holocaust. Perhaps I was just missing something, but it seems to me like a large part of Judaism was just missed out on. The main character felt quite secular to me. The culture aspect was missing.

Add to that the poor writing (it badly needed an editor both to cut out unnecessary details, fix the random time jumps and awkward scenes, and just make the prose more readable! It felt very amateur) and the unlikable main character, and you've got yourself a pretty bad book!

It's a secular novel, so a quick note for my conservative followers: contains one or two cuss words, plenty of violence and disturbing stuff (as per WWII), and the main character has an ongoing affair. Her intimacy with her husband and then her lover (she's getting info from him as a spy) is often referenced - sometimes, the descriptions bordered on explicit (though by secular standards I think it was pretty tasteful!).

But ... well, I can't really recommend it from a secular viewpoint either. Still, it was entertaining at times, as long as you skim read.
Profile Image for Christine.
6,549 reviews473 followers
February 15, 2009
I couldn't finish this book. I understand it's Jenoff's first book, but there is far too much showing not telling. Emma's change of emotions is far too sudden. We're told that she starved in the Ghetto, but in terms of the book, it feels like she was only in the ghetto for five minutes. Even taking into account the difference in time (it helped that I had just read Defiance), she still feels so passive and "oh dear me" that it is hard to like her.
285 reviews1 follower
March 11, 2012
The book had great potential but got bogged down in repetition & redunadancy. A suject like this that has been written about so extensively in fiction and non-fiction needed more of an edge.

The main characters developed, but the secondary ones who were really interesting never fleshed out.

That being said it held my interest to the end and would appeal to someone who knew less about Poland during WWII and wanted a nice combination of romance, intrigue and history.
Profile Image for rachel.
128 reviews10 followers
July 4, 2015
As Emma is so fond of saying, this was just ok. The subject matter was not what I thought it was going to be. When I read the back of the book, I assumed that Emma was going to be a collaborator and I was very interested in reading a book from that point of view. I've always wondered what it would have been like for women who slept with the German soldiers in order to have food and shelter. Did they feel guilty for sleeping with the enemy? Did they not feel guilty because they were providing for their children and families? Did some of them love the German men they slept with? Unfortunately, those questions will have to be answered by a book that is much better written than this one.

Emma has got to be one of the stupidest members of the Resistance that I have ever read about. If you were a Jew in Nazi Poland, and had to keep your identity and marriage a secret, would you be so stupid as to carry your marriage certificate in your pocket while at your job WORKING FOR THE NAZIS?? And then accidentally pull it out while reaching for a Kleenex that you put in the same pocket? I mean, really?? I know that the Resistance members were just regular people and not trained spies, but you would think that Emma would have the common sense to leave that shit at home.

I did like the way that the Kommandant was written. Jenoff did a good job of making him a three-dimensional character, as opposed to an out-and-out evil monster. Jenoff's biggest problem, though, was that I was much more interested in the Kommandant as a character than I was any of her heroes. I would rather have learned more about what made him tick than read paragraph after paragraph of Emma pining for her husband (who didn't seem like an interesting person in the slightest).
Profile Image for Zoe.
1,784 reviews159 followers
October 8, 2020
Poignant, insightful, and moving novel!

Profile Image for Monica (Recenzii carti bune).
133 reviews54 followers
May 29, 2022
O carte plina de speranta, putere si curaj. O poveste cutremuratoare despre supravietuire si sacrificiu.

La nici 3 saptamani de la nunta Emmei cu Jacob, nemtii invadeaza Polonia si Jacob este nevoit sa o paraseasca pentru a se alatura rezistentei.

Emma ajunge in ghetou de unde este salvata de cativa membri ai rezistentei si transferata la matusa lui Jacob, in Cracovia unde capata identitatea tinerei ariene Anna Lipowski. Anna este angajata de Comandantul Nazist Richwalder, ca asistenta sa personala. De aici, Emma trebuie sa joace dublu rol: ajutor de rezistenta sau iubita comandantului, ce pericole o asteapta? Ce trebuie sa aleaga, creierul sau inima?

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