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The Prisoner's Wife

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Inspired by the true story of a daring deception that plunges a courageous young woman deep into the horrors of a Nazi POW camp to be with the man she loves.

In the dead of night, a Czech farm girl and a British soldier travel through the countryside. Izabela and prisoner of war Bill have secretly married and are on the run, with Izzy dressed as a man. The young husband and wife evade capture for as long as possible--until they are cornered by Nazi soldiers with tracking dogs.

Izzy's disguise works. The couple are assumed to be escaped British soldiers and transported to a POW camp. However, their ordeal has just begun, as they face appalling living conditions and the constant fear of Izzy's exposure. But in the midst of danger and deprivation comes hope, for the young couple are befriended by a small group of fellow prisoners. These men become their new family, willing to jeopardize their lives to save Izzy from being discovered and shot.

The Prisoner's Wife tells of an incredible risk, and of how our deepest bonds are tested in desperate times. Bill and Izzy's story is one of love and survival against the darkest odds.

400 pages, Paperback

First published May 26, 2020

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About the author

Maggie Brookes

3 books213 followers
Maggie Brookes is a British ex-journalist and BBC television producer turned poet and novelist.
The Prisoner’s Wife is based on an extraordinary true story of love and courage, told to her by an ex-WW2 prisoner of war. Maggie visited the Czech Republic, Poland and Germany as part of her research for the book, learning largely forgotten aspects of the war.
The Prisoner’s Wife is due to be published by imprints of Penguin Random House in the UK and in the US in May 2020. Publication in other countries, including Holland, Italy, Portugal, Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic will follow.
As well as being a writer, Maggie is an advisory fellow for the Royal Literary Fund and also an Associate Professor at Middlesex University, London, England, where she has taught creative writing since 1990. She lives in London and Whitstable, Kent and is married, with two grown-up daughters.
She has published five poetry collections in the UK under her married name of Maggie Butt. Poetry website: www.maggiebutt.co.uk

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 563 reviews
Profile Image for Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader.
2,051 reviews30k followers
May 30, 2020
Bill is an escaped prisoner of war and British. Izabela is Czech. The two are married and on the run.

Izzy dresses as a man to draw less attention to herself, and they are successful for a time until the Nazis ultimately catch up to them.

Izzy and Bill are taken to a POW camp, with Izzy still in disguise. They are constantly afraid, and the camp is disgusting and dangerous. The silver lining? The couple make friends with the other prisoners who work to keep them all safe.

The Prisoner’s Wife is based on a true story! It’s a beautiful story of friendship and friends as family. It’s about grit, survival, and taking chances for love. I absolutely loved these characters and this story.

I received a gifted copy. All opinions are my own.

Many of my reviews can also be found on my blog: www.jennifertarheelreader.com and instagram: www.instagram.com/tarheelreader
Profile Image for Denise.
509 reviews350 followers
March 13, 2020
I haven't read any historical fiction books in quite some time (especially WWII books, as they all start to blend together after awhile), but The Prisoner's Wife was a great book to remind me why I really do love this genre.

The storyline, which is based on a true story, centers around Izzy, a Czech farm girl, and Bill, a British POW who comes to work on her family's farm. They fall in love and secretly marry when her mother is out of town. Izzy refuses to leave Bill, so in order to be together, Izzy cuts her hair and dresses like a man. They manage to evade capture for a couple of weeks, but eventually they are cornered by Nazi soldiers and transported to a POW camp. In the POW camp, they face appalling living conditions and constant fear that Izzy will be exposured. To try and keep Izzy safe, Bill confides in a small group of fellow prisoners, and the two are befriended by the group (for the most part). These men become their new family, and are even willing to jeopardize their lives to save Izzy from being discovered, as women who were caught disguised as men in POW camps were deemed spies and shot. The couple faces extreme starvation and cruelty when they are moved to other camps and are forced to walk hundreds of miles in the dead of winter. The book goes into great depth in describing the hardships POWs endured during WWII.

I was fully immersed in the storyline and read incessantly just to find out what happened to Bill and Izzy. My only criticism of the book was the ending, as I would have loved an epilogue that went a number of years in the future to update the reader on what happened after the war ended.

In the end though, it is an incredible story of love, risk, and of how the deepest bonds are tested in desperate times. So worth the read for any historical fiction fans out there. 4 stars.
June 17, 2020
Izzy works on the family farm with her mother during World War 2. Their life in Czechoslovakia has been tough since her father and older brother joined the resistance leaving them unable to tend their crops. Izzy yearns to be with people her own age and dreams of a romance that she is unlikely to experience. She meets Bill, a British prisoner of war when he is assigned to work on her farm. Bill teaches her English and eventually they fall in love. This unlikely couple secretly marries and they both worry that he will be reassigned.

The newlyweds run away with the goal of joining Izzy’s father and the resistance. For safety measures, Izzy disguises herself as a man. Their plans are foiled when they are captured by Nazi soldiers and sent to a POW camp. Their living conditions are terrible and they are fearful that someone will discover Izzy’s identity. With the end of the war in sight, these two prisoners are in a daily fight to survive.

The Prisoner’s Wife was inspired by a true story. This story portrays love, spirit, and hope in the darkest of times.
Profile Image for Karren  Sandercock .
714 reviews129 followers
April 16, 2020
In 1944, Izabela is living on the family farm in Vrazne in Czechoslovakia, with her mother and little brother Marek. Her father has left the farm with her older brother Jan and are both fighting with the Czechoslovakia resistance. One day there’s a knock on the door, it’s a Nazi Officer they nickname Captain Oily and he’s organized prisoners of war to help harvest the families hay. The following morning five POW’s along with a guard arrive at the farm, its hard work swinging a scythe and it’s hot. Izzy and her mum notice how thin all the POW’s are, they give them food, water and the guard doesn’t care if they eat or not!

Bill an English soldier and Izzy quickly fall in love, it’s basically love at first sight and Izzy’s mum is very concerned about her daughters welfare. Ezabela’s mum needs to leave the farm to help a relative who is having a baby, Bill and Izzy have made secret plans to marry, once married they plan to escape and leave. They make the choice to hit the road, the plan is for Izzy to dress as a boy, change her name to Cousins and pretend she is mute. It doesn’t take long for the couple to realize that life on the road is going to be hard; Izzy misses her family, they need to hide, walk when they can and are sleeping rough. Izzy and Bill are soon captured, the guards use tracking dogs to find them, there taken to a POW work camp, if anyone discovers Izzy true gender she could be shot as a spy, she’s very vulnerable and nervous.

Fellow prisoners help to keep her identity a secret, as it’s exhausting for Bill to do this alone and they make friends among their fellow inmates. The story is based on how the captured group of POW’s survive being prisoners of war deep in German territory, together they face many hardship, forced to do back breaking hard labor, being constantly hungry, freezing cold, they become filthy, sick, infested with lice, moved from one camp to another and being sent on dangerous long death marches. Despite all the challenges, Bill and Izzy’s love for one other never changes and it grows stronger. The friendships they make with their fellow POW’s, and the unbreakable bond formed between them all, how they all look after each other is truly inspiring and a tribute to humanity.
Based on a true story, The Prisoner’s Wife by Maggie Brookes is a brilliant historical fiction book, I highly recommend reading it and I gave it five stars. I have shared my review on Edelweiss, Goodreads, Twitter, Australian Amazon and my blog. https://karrenreadsbooks.blogspot.com/
Profile Image for Elizabeth of Silver's Reviews.
1,031 reviews1,359 followers
May 26, 2020
Izabela and Bill were destined to meet, but did Izabela realize what she was getting herself and Bill into when she rushed the marriage and escaped the farm she had known for her entire life?

Izabela immediately fell in love with Bill when she saw him in a group of British prisoners who came to help on the farm during WWII.

Her plans were to marry Bill, find her father and brother, and join the resistance, but the Germans had other plans for them.

We follow Izzy and Bill as they escape the farm, travel in the night, sleep in the day, become captured, and endure the prison camp.

They were sent to Lamsdorf Prison where Izzy had to hide that she was a woman. Surprisingly the men in their hut actually helped to hide her.

THE PRISONER'S WIFE which is based on true events was very tense, very well written, and very well researched.

You will feel the terror and pain the prisoners endured in the camps and on the historical Long Walk from Poland to Germany. 

The characters were resilient, loyal, unbelievably strong, and easy to like.

Historical fiction fans will be completely absorbed in this book that gives yet another look at what suffering went on during WWII.

THE PRISONER'S WIFE is a beautiful but heartbreaking book.


This book was given to me by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Mlpmom (Book Reviewer).
2,976 reviews362 followers
May 26, 2020
Every once in awhile you stumble upon a book that is rich in history, so much so that sometimes, it will take your very breath away. Sometimes it steals that breath because of how beautiful it is and sometimes because of how very sad and horrifying and raw and true it is. In the case of The Prisoner's Wife, it was for all of these reasons.

This book horrified me. It made me cringe, it made me suffer right along with it's heartbreakingly real characters that were so real and lovable and full of life. It made me rejoice in their simple joys and happiness when they could find it and most of all, it had me rooting for them all along the way hoping like crazy that they would all be rescued, redeemed and all get their happily ever afters.

I loved this. I hated this. I didn't want it to end.

So beautifully written, so beautifully told and so eye opening about horrors that I already knew existed and happened, but needed reminding of again. A terrible part of our history, of the worlds history, that I hope we never forget and more importantly, never, ever, let happen again.

*ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*
Profile Image for Rachel McMillan.
Author 24 books1,018 followers
May 28, 2020
OH MY EVER-LOVING WORD! This book had been on my radar for awhile: especially because I love established romances and how couples find their way out of situations. But I confess, I was thinking about *when* the right time would be to read it. That's a delicate balance for a reader. I often know that the book has its optimum effect when it intercepts me at the right moment. The right book at the wrong time can be a disaster. And in the middle of a pandemic and deadline when tension is high? Well, I had been choosing different methods of escapism. But my copy arrived and I opened it just to taste a few sentences before getting back to work and I fell in! Immediately. That is the wonder of a powerful voice: at once elegant, intimate and avoiding, it coils around you rather like the snake in the cartoon Jungle Book and by the time you look up, you've had more than an aperetif!

There's SO much about this book: from the astonishing research, to the resplendent use of colour and hope to seep through even the most bitter and profoundly tragic pages, the humanity.

But let's start with the voice because that is, of course, what lured me so deeply. It is told in third person for Bill and first for Izzy: Izzy's portions are more languorous and thoughtful: painting everything around her and, at least before her world is sliced with grey, doused in romance. She is physically attracted to Bill, yes, but to the world. It is also important to know that Izzy --for many chapters-- speaks little English at all. Brookes is a genius in that she somehow pulls off these conversations between two characters who do not understand each other, Izzy obviously recalling from memory, the attraction between the two filling in the lines between. Bill's voice is in urgent, immediate third: reflective of the frantic worry he has for Izzy for always being on guard and looking around trying to perceive the next hurdle or threat, aware that he might have to offer his life for her at the slight disruption to their fragile world.

But oh, 3 am book hangover brain, you are not summarizing this! Stop doing this out of order, Rachel. You goose.

So Izzy is a Czech farm girl whose father and brother joined the resistance against Hitler. Bill is a British POW who has seen more than his fair share and is sent as a labourer to work on Izzy's farm where she lives alone with her mother. Bill and Izzy fall in love --it's instalove, sure--but it works because they do have time together as Bill teaches her English, as the cherry trees blossom, as they steal touches, as they recognize that love is accelerated in the midst of an urgent war when time and convention cease to exist. They marry and run away in hopes of Izzy catching up with the resistance, Izzy wearing her brother's clothes, head shorn, both aware that the encroaching Red Army is known of its disastrous treatment of women. Instead, they are captured and both send to Lamsdorf where Izzy's identity is so close to the front of a firing squad you can smell the prospective smoke.

And yet, it works, because the other prisoners when told of the secret, do the unimaginable and swear to protect her identity. Many have mothers and sisters whose faces they paint on the small, Czech woman pretending to be mute, using a pseudonym. Others know that by protecting her is an act of silent defiance against the enemy they hate.

This book is RIVETING... so spell binding. We all know there are eight billion WWII era books out there and this once excels not only at shining a spotlight on a staggeringly unique (and true story), but being wielded by an author-poet who doesn't just type sentences but casts them out so they spiral and deftly fall. The setting, the imagery, the often uncomfortable visceral images and brutality that shroud the lives of Izzy and Bill at a quarry labour mine and then on the Long March that found thousands and thousands of POWs straggling to find their way aimlessly, terrorized by Nazi guards moving on a heightening fear, the allies close at heels of holey boots and makeshift footwear, gangrene and starvation, a death sentence, the war having long taken a turn, a last act of wavering defense.

Fortunately, for all of the moments of horror, we are held in the cradle of humanity exemplified at times by unlikely allies and small kindnesses, but also in the characters surrounding Izzy like a shield. I loved Ralph, for example, who steps into his role and guides, who is a natural leader, whose sisters at home paint a path of grace for every action he takes in protecting Izzy. I love Max, bookish, philosophical Max, whose heart has been broken and to whom Izzy's sacrifice for love is a balm. I love Scotty, conflicted and brawny, a Scotsman atoning for the past, and treating Izzy like something precious, sacrificing for love at the cost of his own path to redemption.

And I love Bill. How I love Bill. Bill who is wired to be optimistic. Bill who thinks on his feet. Bill who marries a girl because they fit each other but is smart enough to recognize how little they know of each other as she steps into the horror of their new world together. I love how conditioned he is to find music, that he knits. I love that he is good natured and a loyal friend. I love that he sees time and again --from an early morning hoisting cherries--through a death march how strong Izzy is... but also how he recognizes the utmost sacrifice she makes for him. That she has opportunities to leave but that she is with him in this as in all things.

And Izzy, forced to be silent so that her voice is resplendently strong. Unable to speak so that when she does, the words in her new-formed English when whispered are a bell clang. She is fiery and volatile and selfish and strong. Impulsive and filled with a temper, always looking for moments of home even when she so bravely grafted her life with another.

And I love THEM: both Bill and Izzy whose romance cuts true because it is forged in horror: first in the deceptive yawn of calm as the war clangors on, as the threat of the Russians is spoken through the wire fences of the labour camps. Then as they realize that they are entering a universe where the slightest brush of a hand or a flicker of a look across a barracks of men is all that will sustain them. I don't know much about their true counterparts and I know the author is still searching far and wide but I cannot fathom a truer love story. She withstands hell to be with him, he would die for the slightest blemish on her identity. They wake up time and again with the knowledge that the day might demand the utmost sacrifice at the protection of the other so that their relationship becomes stronger than newlyweds, stronger than marriage: but an orb of life-giving force that absolutely confounds and heartens and strengthens the men around them.

I would like to say that I tire of titles that strip the woman of her identity other than being a possessive. Izzy is not just "The Prisoner's Wife." Though the story equally belongs to Izzy and Bill, the title does her an injustice. I remind readers that titles are often the decision of an entire publishing committee and often not the working title suggested by the author. I also remind readers that though this is my personal preference and though I do believe it does Izzy a disservice in this case, I am not the marketing and sales geniuses who look at trends and how previous books with "wife" in the title have sold. They know the readership they will get and luckily those readers will come away with a book that far outpaces and excels many of the others with "so and so's wife"

I finished this book at 3 am. I haven't done one of those late night book binges in an age. And then, of course, I couldn't sleep after. Too much was running through my head and processing and re-engaging like it sparked a wheel or two to spinning. The characters were still chattering to each other and the landscape was still that frost-cold of early spring with a tease now and then of sunlight. I literally could not stop devouring it.

The sheer defiance of human resiliency is as potent now as ever. And so this book intersected my life at the right time. I am flabberghasted by its attention to detail, its painstaking research but also how it sits in the loving care of an author whose hands were gifted with the story and who recognizes the potency of that treasure and so delicately seeps it out to us, shares it with deft and brutal language, redresses the books that move wives to the shadows, paints the utmost portrait of a woman in a man's world.

An absolutely astounding piece of fiction.
Profile Image for Carole (Carole's Random Life).
1,633 reviews448 followers
May 26, 2020
This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

I thought that this book was really well done. I enjoy historical fiction every once in a while and stories set during World War II really appeal to me. I am always on the lookout for something a little different and the premise of this story grabbed me right away. I love the fact that this book is based on a true story and was eager to see how a woman was able to hide within a PoW camp. Once I picked up this book, I was hooked right away and didn't want to put the book down. I am so glad that I decided to give this book a try.

At the start of this story, Izzy is a farm girl in Czechoslovakia and Bill is a prisoner at a work camp that has been assigned to assist at her family farm. They are drawn to each other from the very beginning and fall in love in moments when they are able to steal a bit of time together away from everyone else. They marry and escape only to be captured a short time later. This is when things start getting very dangerous for both Izzy and Bill.

I felt for Izzy and Bill from the start. They both just wanted to be together but a war that they could not control had the potential to take everything from them. I tried to imagine what it must have been like for Izzy to live in fear of being discovered and how difficult it must have been to hide her gender in the living conditions within the camp. Bill was in constant fear for Izzy and was willing to do whatever it took to protect her.

This was a really powerful story. The descriptions in this book were very well done and I was able to form a mental image of what the conditions in the camp were Bill, Izzy, and the others that were in on their secret. Everything from their constant state of hunger to the physical pain was vividly described. I felt like I was there with them as they fought to take another step and leaned on each other for support.

I would recommend this book to fans of historical fiction. I thought that this was a very well done and powerful story. I will admit that I would have loved to see a little bit about what happened to each of the characters after the story ended but I realize that most of the people being released from these camps would never know the fate of those they had come in contact with during their incarceration. I would not hesitate to read more of this author's work in the future.

I received an advanced review copy of this book from Penguin Publishing Group - Berkley.
Profile Image for Breanna.
480 reviews166 followers
May 18, 2020
THIS REVIEW & MORE → Paws and Paperbacks

ARC provided by the publisher through NetGalley.

4.5 stars ✨

The Prisoner’s Wife was inspired by a true story–and a shocking one at that. The story centers around Izzy, a Czech farm girl, and Bill, a British prisoner of war. After falling in love and secretly marrying, Izzy dresses as a boy and the two run away together, full of desperation and hope, but are found by the Germans and sent back to Lamsdorf, a German POW camp. Now they face an even greater ordeal as they struggle to keep Izzy’s identity hidden in order to save her from being discovered and shot.

The writing captivated me from the beginning. It’s hard not to become invested in Izzy and Bill’s story. I really loved the transformation of their characters; at the start of the book they are naive, blindly in love, and make the brash decision to run away, however, this changes as they two face more and more difficulty. Maggie Brookes is an incredible writer and the desperation and bleakness felt by the character bleeds through the pages and into the reader. It’s not an easy book to read; this is a book about survival during one of the darkest times in history.

My only complaint is that I was looking for more from the epilogue. After everything the characters (and readers) are put through it would have been nice to have had a glimpse at some sort of happiness for them in the future.

The Prisoner’s Wife is an remarkable debut inspired by a true story. It’s a harrowing tale about maintaining love, hope, friendship, and perseverance during incredible hardships. It’s heartbreaking and beautiful. I absolutely recommend this book to anyone looking for a breathtaking, poignant story.
Profile Image for Historical Fiction.
919 reviews566 followers
November 5, 2020
Find this and other reviews at: https://historicalfictionreader.blogs...

The subject matter of Maggie Brookes' The Prisoner's Wife drew my attention the moment I stumbled across it. I expected the narrative to be stark, but few authors of my experience have tackled WWII POW camps, and I couldn't help being intrigued by the thoughts and experiences of those imprisoned in these facilities.

The Prisoner's Wife is Brookes' debut fiction and while I loved the author's decision to write about largely overlooked details of the war, I think Brookes' journalism background evident. The straight-forward, matter-of-fact tone of the novel played to the hardship experienced by civilians and prisoners in Central Europe, but I felt it hindered character development, particularly where Izzy was concerned.

I can only speculate, but Brookes is the daughter of a POW, and I think that fact, paired with the inspiration for the novel coming from the recollections of Sidney Reed, a veteran who witnessed an unnamed couple during his own imprisonment, made Bill easier to write. Though fictional, one can argue Bill drawn from tangible models and feel might explain why I found his character less wooden than his bride.

The novel's measured pacing tempered much of the urgency, but once I settled into it, I liked how Brookes' structuring of the story mirrored the realities of camp life. Brookes doesn't force anything outlandish, choosing instead to allow the material to speak for itself. This approach resonated with me, but I think my favorite aspect of the story is how it ends. Brookes does not offer insight into the future of her surviving cast, and while I understand the frustration that might inspire in other readers, I think it a beautiful ode to Reed's incomplete recollections and all those who disappeared into the settling dust of the conflict.
Profile Image for Deborah.
92 reviews
January 22, 2020
When I began reading this book, I thought the story could not possibly be believable. Yet the writing grabbed me and I could not put the book down. I wanted to know what happened to the characters- would they survive? If they did survive, how would they do so? Knowing that the author based the book on details she had learned from a WWII survivor helped suspend some of my initial disbelief. The author's research was apparent in the historical accuracy. The Prisoner's Wife is good historical fiction.

I was given an ARC of The Prisoner's Wife by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Myrna.
703 reviews
October 25, 2022
Historical fiction is my favorite genre to read and Maggie Brookes’ The Prisoner’s Wife is a great one. I was immersed in the characters love, risks, and determination from the beginning. I appreciate the research involved in the novel but was hoping for more facts than fiction. I hope on day we learn about Izzy’s and Bill’s real story.
Profile Image for Olga Kowalska (WielkiBuk).
1,380 reviews2,220 followers
March 10, 2021
Nie dziwię się, że Maggie Brookes usłyszawszy tę opowieść po raz pierwszy od razu zaczęła przeszukiwać archiwa historyczne w poszukiwaniu wzmianki o Izabeli i Billu. Opowieść o dzielnej, odważnej kobiecie, która poświęciła wolność, by wraz z ukochanym cierpieć katusze uwięzienia i pracy przymusowej działa na wyobraźnię każdego czytelnika o romantycznej duszy.

Czytelnik jednak nie musi obawiać się naiwnej opowiastki, autorka bowiem z pieczołowitością odwzorowała warunki panujące w niemieckim obozach jenieckich, czerpiąc wiedzę nie tylko z archiwów oraz źródeł historycznych, ale także ze wspomnień alianckich weteranów z jej rodzinnego otoczenia. Z wrażliwością opisała tzw. Długi Marsz, do którego zmuszono jeńców wojennych oraz warunki, na które jeńcy zostali skazani.

„Żona więźnia” to pasjonująca opowieść, pełna cierpienia, bólu, ale również nadziei, że uda się przejść przez piekło i znów zobaczyć słońce.
Profile Image for Kristin.
723 reviews8 followers
February 5, 2020
I won this book on a Goodreads first reads giveaway.

I don't know what to say, other than I guess this wasn't my cup of tea.

Can a story really claim to be "inspired by a true story" if there's no proof the two main characters actually existed except in the hearsay of an old solider, who can't even remember either of their names?

Another problem, and probably my biggest, is that I didn't care at all for Izzy. For a 20 year old girl that grew up in that time period and on a farm where maturity and hard work are expected from a very young age, she had the maturity of a fifteen year old.

She was selfish, quick tempered, and a bit of a rash idiot. Seeing how stern and blunt her mother was, I can't accept the excuse she was "sheltered". Her mother told her straight up what the Soviets were doing to women and girls they caught and Izzy basically scoffed at her. Until, of course, her husband told her the same thing four pages later, then suddenly the big bad Russians were terrifying. Again, emotional maturity of a rebelling fifteen year old. Not a 20 year old farm girl in an occupied nation.

Another thing I didn't care for was the obvious political agenda. Oh yes, I'm sure an immature 20 year old girl hiding in a Nazi POW camp (who, if caught, could be raped, tortured, thrown into a real concentration camp, or subjected to experiments, a firing squad, hanging, or thrown to the Russians) is totally going focus almost solely on politics.

What did said political agenda add to the story?


Rather than extending the insta-love at the beginning of the book (after swearing it wasn't love at first sight), or lengthening the amount of time they were on the run, or even focusing on day to day life surviving and Izzy's budding friendships with the men in the bunk, the author deflects and distracts with political talk to cover up that there is no story or plot in the middle half of the book.

Izzy barely leaves their bunk. So rather than focusing on how hungry she is, how scared she is, what she would love to eat, or thinking about her mother and brother, or daydreaming about the future, or hell, even skipping the most of the camp altogether...we're treated to almost the entire middle of the book dedicated to politics.

Almost every other page was pushing one particular political party. What political party? Doesn't matter, none of it was necessary and made the book feel like it was even dragged out than it already was. Almost the entire middle of the book could have been removed and the reader wouldn't have noticed anything missing.

And yes, I do know the historical significance of the mentioned party to both Britain and Czech's reincarnation under a new occupied ruler. Still doesn't make almost the entire middle half of the book necessary, except to drag out and attempt to hide any character depth/maturity from Izzy or any of the soldiers in the bunk. It was just a cover to hide the fact there was literally no story to be had (just an author trying to meet a page count) in the middle part.

I did like that the author based the "scenery" and many of the characters around the old soldier's memories of the actual places he had been a POW at and I did like that, unlike when Izzy was in the first camp, the author didn't flinch away from horrors and tribulation of The Long March to Freedom.

Otherwise, this book just wasn't for me. I wish it had focused more on making defined characters and had more character growth and maturity instead of a political agenda to cover up that there was no story to be seen at the first POW camp.

On a side note, I said "middle" way too much. Sorry.
Profile Image for Kori Sulewski (korireads).
498 reviews129 followers
June 27, 2020
When I first read the synopsis of this, I was a little bit uncertain that the story would turn out to be believable but oh my goodness, it was! I was completely hooked from page one.

It tells the story of a Czech farm girl (Izzy) and British prisoner (Bill) during WWII who fall in love, run away together, and then are caught by Nazis and transferred to a Nazi POW camp. The catch? Izzy is dressed as a boy and has to keep her disguise hidden for months amidst truly horrifying camp conditions. I was in awe of Izzy’s strength and also of the bravery and kindness of the group of prisoners who worked together to keep her identity hidden.

This book is inspired by a true story and I think that’s what really got me. I couldn’t imagine! I think it will stick with me for a very long time. I was enthralled by the entire story.

My only complaint is with the ending. I wanted MORE! More closure, more details, more words. It just ended too abruptly for me.

It also took a little bit to get used to Izzy’s voice, but pretty quickly I was 100% rooting for her and Bill.

Thank you Berkeley Pub for sending me an ARC!
Profile Image for Crystal Craig.
250 reviews566 followers
November 2, 2021
Inspired by a true story, The Prisoner's Wife is a novel about survival. I was fully immersed right from the first page. It showcases love and friendship during desperate times. The author does an outstanding job setting the scene, pulling you straight back into the horrors of WWII. I felt like I was with the characters every step of the way. I thought the ending was a little abrupt but other than that, a definite recommendation.
Profile Image for Cassie’s Reviews.
975 reviews30 followers
March 16, 2020
I honestly cannot believe this is a true story! It was gripping from page one! Izzy whose a twenty year old Czech girl , is working on her family farm with her mother,When they get a knock on their door. A Nazi Officer who runs a POW camp and he’s offering the prisoners to help with their harvest. Izzy immediately falls in love with Bill whose one of the nazi POW prisoners. Soon their plotting to get him out of the POW camp and they get married in secret. Part of their escape Izzy cuts her hair and passes herself off as a boy to make their escape and travel easier. Within a couple days of their escape which involves finding places to sleep during the day and sneaking at night the two are captured! Izzy and Bill are taken to another horrible POW work camp. Shaking Izzy is worried their secret will be discovered. Fellow prisoners help keep her secret and she pretends she’s mute. The prisoners help her keep her period a secret from the guards and they band together and soon become friends and help each other through the horrors of war. I loved this book I enjoyed that it was told in Izzy’s and Bills point of view. The history in this book was amazing and the strength of these characters shocked me. The conditions of the camp horrified me. I give this four stars! This book reminded me why I love historical fiction so much!
Profile Image for Stina.
1,020 reviews1 follower
August 9, 2020
★★★★ 4.5 stars

I have read many books set in Europe during WW2, usually of the Jewish ghetto and concentration camps, but this one is something completely different. THE PRISONER'S WIFE is just that...the story of a prisoner of war's wife...but not in the way you would expect it.

June 1944: Izzy (Izabela) is 20 year old woman living and working on the family farm in Czechoslovakia alongside her mother. Her father and older brother Jan left at the beginning of the war to join the Resistance, leaving the two women and 8 year old Marek unable to tend to their farm and crops on their own. When an SS captain approaches their farm one day, Izzy fears he has come to requisition it for the Reich. But Captain Meier comes to offer assistance in the form of a prisoner of war work camp, to which her mother heartily and thankfully agrees.

When the POWs arrive, one blonde blue eyed soldier stands out to her. Their eyes meet and the attraction is instant. However, upon learning they are British she cannot converse with them as she is only fluent in Czech and German. So Izzy befriends the elderly guard (who had once been a school teacher) who accompanies them each day on the pretense of learning English from him. She is a quick learner and before long the guard encourages her to talk with the British POWs to hone her accent and pronunciation. Not needing any encouragement, Izzy seeks out her soldier whose name is Bill King who continues to teach her English, and the guard pays them no more attention.

The two fall in love but her mother reminds her that it is a union that cannot be. He is a prisoner of war and she is a farm girl. But Izzy will not be swayed. She meets Bill at the camp on the days he is not at the farm, even going so far as to sneak out one night to visit him. But her mother catches her returning home, accusing her of giving herself to a man she barely knows. When Izzy tells her they are in love and will marry at the end of the war, her mother scoffs saying "they all say that to get what they want from you". But Izzy knows that Bill loves her just as she loves him. And so she sets a plan in motion.

The unlikely couple secretly marry in the village near her family's farm and abscond with the hope of joining Izzy's father and brother in the Resistance. But for safety's sake and in order to remain together, Izzy disguises herself as man, cutting her hair and dressing in some of her brother's clothing. They evade capture for a couple of weeks but are eventually apprehended by the Nazis and sent to the Lamsdorf POW camp with Izzy disguised as a mute young soldier with shell shock.

They face appalling conditions in the camp and the constant fear that Izzy will be exposed. In an attempt to keep his new wife safe, he confides in a small group of fellow prisoners and together they protect Izzy from the other prisoners as well as the guards. These men become their family and soon Izzy cannot imagine life beyond the camp and her fellow prisoners. Should Izzy be revealed as a woman she would be deemed a spy and would therefore be shot. Izzy knows what each man is putting on the line to keep her secret.

Told mostly through the eyes of Izzy in the first person and Bill in the third person, THE PRISONER'S WIFE is a heartbreaking tale of love and sacrifice in the face of war. It is horrifying, it is atmospheric, it is compelling. How one person could put themselves through something so barbaric all in the name of love...and to find such joy in the simple things. Throughout the entire book, the reader is left wondering just how this is all going to end.

Will they be rescued? Will they survive? Will they get their happily ever after?

Based on a true story of an unknown couple, THE PRISONER'S WIFE is so beautifully written and wonderfully told that it will have you reaching for the tissues as the reality of the horrors come to life within the pages.

I loved both characters of Izzy and Bill, as well as those of Ralph, Scotty and even Max. This story is as much theirs as it is Izzy's and Bill's...for they helped keep their secret right up till the end. No matter what the cost.

THE PRISONER'S WIFE is a tale of sheer resilience. It is an absorbing read that will stay with you long after you have finished. And will leave you wondering about the real Izzy and Bill, and who they might have been. The author has researched the historical facts brilliantly, despite the story being a loosely based one on a couple she had been told about by a former POW. This story was a gift Maggie Brookes so beautifully and delicately retold in her own words, painting a portrait like no other of a woman in a man's world.

An absolutely wonderful tale I definitely recommend.

I would like to thank #MaggieBrookes, #NetGalley and #RandomHouseUK and #CornerstoneDigital for an ARC of #ThePrisonersWife in exchange for an honest review.

This review appears on my blog at https://stinathebookaholic.blogspot.com/.
Profile Image for Katrien Van Wambeke.
159 reviews48 followers
January 10, 2021
Aangrijpend. Rauw. Indrukwekkend.

Toch vond ik het wat te langdradig terwijl het eind zo kort was. Had meer uitgewerkt mogen worden. Hoe is het hen erna vergaan?

Profile Image for Sherwood Smith.
Author 148 books37.5k followers
April 6, 2020
Though I've read a great deal of history, there are some periods about which I tend to shy away from fiction, among them World Wars I and II. The marketing material accompanying this novel emphasized how it was based on a true story, so I assayed it.

I'm not sorry. Once we got past the early portion, in which teenage Izzy, living on a Czech farm during occupation, falls in lust, er, love, with English POW Bill and marries him out of hand, the novel becomes really absorbing. The two take off, are captured, and the rest of the book focuses on their surviving--Izzy disguised as a man--in prisoner of war camps, before they join the infamous Long March to Freedom.

The author makes clear in the afterword that her novel is based on a story told in reminiscence by an old vet, who insisted that someone in one of his POW camps had a wife living there as a man. He couldn't remember their names. The rest was research on the part of Brookes. Diligent research--except for tiny glitches like the German omitting caps of nouns, the background matches facts and attitudes I've been reading for decades.

The complex main characters are drawn with verisimilitude, and though there are a couple of scenes that feel a bit novelistic, they do contribute to the high tension and keep those pages turning. Brookes vividly developed the physical stresses of the characters' experience, and the emotional fallout. It kept me reading until quite late.

Copy provided by NetGalley
Profile Image for Lis Carey.
2,134 reviews92 followers
May 26, 2020
This is based on a true story from World War II, as improbable as it seems.

It's 1944, and Izabella is a twenty-year-old farm girl. Her father and older brother have joined the partisans; Izzy, her mother, and her younger brother, Marek,are left alone on the farm.

Izzy's mother, fortunately, was always the farmer in the family; it's her family's farm, and Izzy's father was a musician. But with only Izzy and her mother to do the heavy work, it is a struggle. When Nazi officer Captain Meier shows up and says he can bring a work crew--prisoners from the Allied forces--her mother accepts.

It's a team of five captured British soldiers. They don't come every day, but for every major job the farm has. Among the prisoners is William King, and he and Izzy are quickly drawn to each other.

They have to be very, very careful.

They fall in love. They make the dangerous decision to marry in secret and escape to join the partisans.

They manage the secret marriage. They manage the escape.

It's almost two weeks before they're caught, by Nazi guards with tracking dogs.

Izzy is dressed as a boy, and they have concocted a false identity including a serial number for a young British solder who possibly lied about his age to enlist.

They now face months, possibly years, as POWs while the Germans know they're slowly but surely losing the war. And of course, they have to hide the fact that Izzy is a woman. They manage to enlist some of their fellow prisoners, but it's still an additional danger on top of the dangers and privations of the German camps.

What follows is a harrowing tale that Brookes makes all to real and challenging to read--even though I'm sure this may be softened quite a bit from the reality of the lived experience. They, their friends, and other fellow prisoners experience starvation, overwork, illness, and filth. And at any point, they could be injured, killed, or Izzy discovered to be a woman. We see their characters grow and develop, even as their chances of survival shrink, while the reader but not the prisoners know exactly how long they have to survive till Allied forces arrive and they can be freed. That is, if they are still alive.

As mentioned above, this is based on a true story, and Brookes makes it very compelling. Recommended.

I received an electronic galley from the publisher, and am reviewing it voluntarily.
Profile Image for Renee.
987 reviews167 followers
March 15, 2020
An exciting tale of love and survival amidst horrible circumstances. At the center of this page-turner is the pure-hearted, resilient Izzy, a stubborn, wise, yet innocent character, who strongly brought to mind Annie from Betty Smith’s Joy in the Morning. I loved how Bill and the other men guarded Izzy’s secret and protected her. This is not exactly a sweet story—the author presents the crudeness of the men’s language, terminology, and actions as they might have been. But it is poignant and victorious. An author to watch!
Profile Image for pais ★.
104 reviews24 followers
March 18, 2022
This was absolutely heartbreaking. Even though the ending was unrealistic my heart broke for how these group of men tried to hard to protect Izzy. My gosh I might cry 😭✌🏻
Profile Image for Linda Zagon.
1,298 reviews93 followers
March 1, 2020
Linda' Book Obsession Reviews "The Prisoner's Wife: by Maggie Brookes, Berkley Publishing, May 2020

Maggie Brookes, Author of "The Prisoner's Wife" has written a unique, memorable, poignant, intense, captivating, and riveting novel. The Genres for this Novel are Historical Fiction and Fiction. The author is basing this novel on a true story, and using poetic license, filling in certain fictional details. The timeline for this story is during World War Two. The story begins in Czechoslovakia and goes to surrounding areas. The author describes her characters as complex, and complicated. Some are courageous, moral and brave. Others are mean spirited and evil. There is loyalty and betrayal.

Bill is an English soldier, that has been captured and is a Prisoner of War and being used with the other men on farms in Czechoslovakia to do the heavy work. Izzy is a young woman helping her mother run the farm and falls in love with Bill. Izzy's mother is concerned about the War and has mentioned to Izzy, that it would be a good idea for Izzy to cut her hair and dress like a boy, so hopefully, any soldiers would leave her alone.

Izzy and Bill marry and are planning to run away together. They are both captured by the Germans. Izzy decides to pass herself off as a young man. Bill realizes that he is going to have to trust some of the other male prisoners to protect her. Some of these prisoners are risking their own lives to protect Izzy's identity. If Izzy is found, she will be shot. Not everyone can be trusted. These are German soldiers, and this is set during World War Two.

The author vividly describes the events and the characters. This is a very edgy and tense read. I would highly recommend this book for readers who like World War Two Historical Fiction.
Profile Image for Suzanne (The Bookish Libra).
832 reviews93 followers
May 29, 2020
4.5 Stars.

Set during WWII, Maggie Brookes’ new novel The Prisoner’s Wife follows a British soldier named Bill and a Czech girl named Izzy. Bill is a POW who has been sent, along with several other prisoners, to labor at Izzy’s family’s farm. As soon as Bill and Izzy meet, sparks fly and they quickly fall in love. Izzy is desperate to get away from life on the farm and arranges for her and Bill to secretly marry so that they can run away and be together. Their honeymoon – and their freedom – is short-lived, however, when they are almost immediately captured by the Germans and sent to a POW camp. To hide her identity while they were fleeing, Izzy had cut her hair short and donned men’s clothing, but keeping her identity and gender a secret in a POW camp is practically an impossible task. Bill knows they need help and enlists some fellow prisoners to help keep their secret, and most importantly, to keep Izzy safe. If she’s found now, Izzy will almost certainly be executed as a spy.

I’ve read a lot of WWII historical fiction in my day, but this one really got to me. Bill and Izzy’s journey is so fraught with danger at every turn and it just had my heart in my throat the entire time I was reading. The author paints such a vivid picture of the horrors of the POW camp – the brutality, the lack of proper rations, the unsanitary conditions and sickness, not to mention the complete lack of privacy. Even just the act of trying to use the bathroom posed a threat to Izzy’s well being. The author created such a tense and suspenseful environment that hardly a page went by when I wasn’t convinced that Izzy’s identity would be revealed at any moment.

I just adored Izzy and Bill too. How can you not root for a young couple in love to outwit the Germans and survive? I was rooting that a happy ending for them from the moment they met. I especially loved Izzy, who not only wanted to get off that farm, but she specifically wanted to find and join up with her father and brother who were members of a resistance group. I loved her spark and her strength and was sure that if anyone could survive their impossible situation, it was Izzy.

I also loved the group of prisoners that banded together to protect Izzy from the Germans. I was just so moved by their immediate willingness to put themselves in harm’s way to save a complete stranger, especially when it would have been so much easier to just look out for themselves and not try to help. This group becomes Izzy and Bill’s “found family” and I found myself rooting for them all to survive just as hard as I was for Izzy and Bill.

Inspired by true events, The Prisoner’s Wife is an unforgettable story of courage, resiliency, and survival. It’s also a story about love and the lengths people will go to for those they care about.

Note: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Netgalley. All opinions are my own..
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Dianne.
6,765 reviews577 followers
April 9, 2020
A heartbreaking story of how far a woman will go to be with the man she loves during one of the darkest and most vile times in human history, World War II as the Nazis mow down and capture warriors and innocents alike, sending them to the hell of POW camps.

Fiction based on a true story of one young woman’s deception and those around her who helped keep her alive as she poses as a man to be with her soldier husband. THE PRISONER’S WIFE by Maggie Brookes is a testament to the power of love and determination, aided by sheer luck and possible the hands of Fate.

Feel as if you are there, feel the brutal cold, the seemingly impossible conditions that thousands endured and realize what a monument to the resiliency of humanity against the odds as the love between an English soldier and a farm girl from Czechoslovakia propel her to risk discovery and death. Ask yourselves, could YOU do this?

The action is not-fast-paced, this isn’t an adventure story, it is a story of survival against the odds. Often brutal, that it is based on reality is a chilling prospect as we cannot help but cheer this couple on.

Fabulous reading! Highly recommended, a humanized version of history we can only hope never to repeat.

I received a complimentary ARC edition from Berkley Books! This is my honest and voluntary review.

Publisher: Berkley (May 26, 2020)
Publication Date: May 26, 2020
Genre: Historical Fiction
Pages: 400
Available from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
For Reviews, Giveaways, Fabulous Book News, follow: http://tometender.blogspot.com

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