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The Puzzle Women

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  2,723 ratings  ·  135 reviews
Berlin, 1989. Siblings Rune and Lotte are shaken awake by Mama and told to follow her quietly into the night. Last time they snuck away from Papa, with Mama bruised and broken, they were back within a week. But this time they are starting a new life, Mama says—where nobody can ever hurt them again.

Ten years later, the memories of their escape are blurry; Mama is long gone
Kindle Edition, 425 pages
Published October 20th 2020 by Lake Union Publishing
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Average rating 3.99  · 
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 ·  2,723 ratings  ·  135 reviews

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Debra (having surgery will be off for a few days)
"Love isn't just something you feel - it's something you do."

This is a remarkably interesting and intriguing book. It is about domestic violence, abuse and pain but it is also about love, family, hope and resilience.

It is the story of a mother who loved her children. It is about children who loved their mother and share a close bond and love each other. It is about taking your fate into your own hands, about being brave, about taking chances. It is about helping others. It is also about fear
Sep 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley, 2020
Have you had that experience where you begin reading a book, and it's not bad, but you're still withholding judgement—and then, about 10% of the way in, you realize you're reading something exceptional, and you know you'll be staying up until you've read every last word of it? I had that experience reading Anna Ellory's The Puzzle Women.

I don't want to say too much about this title because it was so wonderful to dive into it without preconceptions or expectations. Let me just say that it's about

***Note: I received a copy curtesy of Netgalley and Amazon Publishing UK / Lake Union Publishing in exchange for an honest review.

* Plot: 3.5★
* Characters: 3★
* Language/Humor/Witticism: 3★
* Enjoyability: 3★

The novel is focused mainly on mystery and abuse, with quite sparse bits of historical fiction added. Lotte, a girl with Down syndrome, is quite nice and sweet, maybe a tad too highly functional depicted - I know two girls/women with Down and neither one of them is this resourceful and sk
The Puzzle Women - for me was an incredible book. Very beautifully written and a book that tells an important story.

Both full of sadness, and love, with characters that stay with you long after the story ends.

Very heartbreaking at times, but full of relationships and support.

This book is one to pick up, read, share and talk about!

Thank You to NetGalley, Author Anna Ellory and Amazon Publishing UK for my advanced copy to read and review.

#ThePuzzleWomen #NetGalley
I was not sure if I should give this book 3.5 or 4⭐ but it's been a few days since I finished it and it's still fresh in my mind so I definitely enjoyed it a lot.

This is my first book from the author and it won't be my last. This was such an intriguing story. Mysterious and emotional.
I especially liked Lotte! Her chapters were so interesting to read. I think the way she acted and described things, made me even more interested in the story. It definitely made me feel closer to the story, closer t
Oct 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is book that is hard to put down as it grabs the reader from the start. The story is mainly about a family, Papa, Mama, Roo and Lotte but is so much more than a family story. The story epitomises the love of a mother for her children in a vey emotional, painful way. I loved the fact that this entwined two stories into one as it was based upon historical facts. I knew of the separation of Germany by the Berlin Wall, some of the issues and problems caused by fall of the wall and the amalgatio ...more
Dec 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
* 4.5 Stars!

I truly can not begin to explain how amazingly fantastic this book was...

This book is told in three different time periods, with three separate narratives that intertwine into a beautiful work of mystery, suspense, love and loss. Mama, Rune, and Lotte are leaving their home in the middle of the night and quite literally running away.. taking place in Berlin before, during and after the fall of that most famous wall.. this piece of historical fiction proves that the separation betwe
Donna Hines
Oct 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The Puzzle Women is a remarkable story full of rugged, tenacious, amazing women who refuse to let history repeat.
It's a story of triumph over evil, hope over despair, love over hate, and it's a story that we all need to hear!
Thankfully, Anna Ellory has written this captivating piece that showcases the pain during the Berlin Wall experience, coupled with an explosive and abusive past history, combined with mental and medical issues.
It's a powerful story of a mother and her daughters fleeing (in m
Kathy Trastevere
Jan 11, 2021 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book which depicts a family struggle in Berlin from 1989 through 1999, just before and following the fall of the wall. I am now motivated to learn more about this very recent history. One of the characters is a delightful down-syndrome child/teen who was beloved by the family and the reader. A character type rarely seen in literature. 4.5
Oct 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The Puzzle Women is a dual-time story, set in 1989 at the time of the fall of the Berlin Wall and ten years later, in 1999. As the story opens, Mama takes her children, Rune and Lotte, and flees her abusive marriage. Ten years later, Mama is gone, the children are back in Papa’s grasp, and their memories are faded. Lotte, the younger of the two, barely remembers anything of Mama, their escape, and what follows. But one day a mysterious notebook arrives. Lotte struggles to read, but she sees enou ...more
Oct 15, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Gut wrenching and heartbreaking yet filled with warmth and beautiful love, this intense book is impossible to set aside until completely read and mulled over. Your heart will pound and drop and you will hold your breath as you follow this family on a dual timeline in Germany as they traverse a nightmare, not life.

Mama, Roo and Lotte make another attempt to leave their home on tiptoe with a few belongings, desperate not to awaken Papa and his horrendous wrath. But their escape doesn't last for lo
Feb 09, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This story is essentially about a mother’s love for her children and the lengths she’d go to to protect them. The book addresses domestic violence and is not an easy read. It is brutal in places and may not be for everybody.
The period of history was of particular interest to me. The story spans the collapse of the Berlin Wall and focusses on the Puzzle Women who were employed to piece together documents shredded by the Stasi.

Although dark in places, this is an interesting, beautifully-written
Dec 05, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars I almost gave up on this after the first chapter, glad I didn’t. It’s pretty grim, horrific in places but it does a really good job of illuminating another perspective on a monumental point in history - the fall of the Berlin Wall. I also appreciated the new (for me) perspective of the inner world of a girl with Down’s syndrome.
Joanna Stewart
Feb 24, 2021 rated it really liked it
Do not let the title of this book put you off (sadly I expect a publisher’s decision)! It’s a moving account of two East German siblings; their relationships with their abusive father and missing mother. Incredibly moving and insightful characters. I couldn’t put it down!
Jacqueline Allan
Sep 18, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A sincere thank you to the publisher, author and Netgalley for providing me with an ebook copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.

This is not my usual genre,  however I wanted to take the opportunity to read something from outside my norm. And I am glad I did!! Thank you for  opening up my mind to something totally different. Characters were so well developed that I felt as though I knew them. I love when a book draws you into the story and it feels like you are living it wit
Sep 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I knew from my experience with Anna's other work, in particular her debut novel, The Rabbit Girls, that The Puzzle Women would be equal parts devastating and beautiful, and in this second offering Anna has refined those elements into a work that is insidiously gorgeous, heart-breaking and heart-warming at once: something that is truly bitter-sweet.

The reality of domestic abuse is laid bare: the threats, the double-edged mercies, the terrible violence. Papa is a shadow that falls across the char
Aug 17, 2020 rated it liked it
3.5 stars

Lotte is an interesting character... taught to be independent,she uses it to her full advantage,as she tries to solve the mystery of a notebook sent in the post,possibly from her dead mother.
So,there's a mystery to solve,well two,if you count what did happen to her mother.
At times this book is brutal.
Mostly though,there's love.
A mother's love,sibling love,and the love and support of friends.

Set in fairly recent past,of which I know nothing of the history,it's made me want to read up som
Feb 18, 2021 rated it really liked it

Another truly heartwarming and meaningful story I've had the pleasure of reading. There were so many wonderful things about this story, but words fail me at the best of times and this unfortunately is one of those. But I at least would like to try highlighting a few things about this novel that will stay with me for a long time:

1. Lotte's characterization: We are not informed about the fact Lotte has Downs Syndrome prior to reading this book. I'm not sure if this was intentional on the author's
Oct 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is one of those stories which grabs you right from the start with an emotional connection to the characters, particularly, devoted siblings, Rune and Lotte, and which doesn't let go of your heart until the whole of this compelling story is told.

Beautifully written, with strong characteristaion and a powerful sense of time and place, we come to share in Lottie's quest as she tries to put together the pieces of ripped paper which make up her mother's journal. However, Lotte can't do this alon
Oct 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Loved it and would give the book 4.5 stars. Loved everything about it- the characters, story and writing style. The subject matter is definitely difficult to read at times. All the physical and mental abuse, Lotte and Rune's mama was one strong and brave woman. She would do anything to protect her children. I found it very interesting reading about Berlin before the Wall fell. It's hard to believe how the people lived with the Stasi constantly watching you and keeping notes. You couldn't trust y ...more
Denise Griffin
Mar 03, 2021 rated it liked it
A friend of mine recommended this book to me. I did not find it as special as she did. It was an interesting plot involving the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. But, it was more about domestic violence and child abuse. I didn't really care for such 'heavy' issues to be dealt with as they were in the novel. Too many unanswered questions. . .

Without giving too much away, the story revolved around a mother, escaping from an abusive, powerful husband, taking her two young children with her, and fin
Oct 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book intrigued me from the first page, we start in the past, where the siblings Rune and Lotte are leaving their home at night with Mama scared of their Papa. The next thing we know is ten years later, where Rune and Lotte still live with their Papa but not their Mama. What happened?
As you can see, the story is intriguing from the first page, you feel that the mother of these two siblings loves them very much, so why is she not there now? Is she dead? Did she leave their children with the a
Denice Langley
Oct 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The first word that comes to mind after reading THE PUZZLE WOMEN is emotional. Anna Ellory takes her readers through every emotion on the spectrum. Fear and agony to love and regret and so much more. She has built a community of characters that have survived against huge odds and are seeking answers to many of the questions of what ultimately happened to their mother.

Mama has tried to shield them from the worst of Papa's angry outbursts of violence, both physical and emotional. Many times, they
Nov 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
"The Puzzle Women" is a novel about Rune and his autistic little sister Lotte and their path to finding out what happened to their mom before the fall of the Berlin Wall. It bounces back between the 80's and 90's timelines as well as from Rune and Lotte's narratives at the moment. A package shows up with Lotte and Runes names on it, and Lotte believes it is from their mom but their father sees it and shreds it before it can be read. In an effort to find mommy, Lotte takes the shreds to the Puzzl ...more
Patricia Doyle
Nov 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The Puzzle Women is an exceptional story set in two time periods in Germany. The 1989 story takes place in both West and East Germany shortly before the fall of the Berlin Wall and shortly after. The 1999 story takes place in Germany and is about Rune (age 20) and Lotte (age 15/16) now grown up.

The physical and mental abuse their Mama faces by her very powerful husband is inhumane and constant. While Lotte, a Downs Syndrome child, seems to be exempt from Papa’s madness, Rune is not.

The story is
Rebekah Crain
Dec 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I'm not crying; you're crying. Okay, that's a lie. I am crying.

Ellory is such an amazing writer!!! The way she weaves her stories through time and from one character to the next. It is seamless. It is pure, raw talent. And it is incredible!

I had no idea that when I discovered The Rabbit Girls that I was being whisked up in a love affair with it's creator. No, not like that. But truely, I'm in love with the magic Ellory makes as she creates such devastating beauty on the page. Her words are more
Oct 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing
"The Puzzle Women" is heartbreaking and thought-provoking. It covers difficult subjects including domestic violence and rape sensitively. The historical context is fascinating because the first part of the story is set around the time that the Berlin wall fell and political tensions were high.
After years of domestic abuse, Rune and Lotte's mother fleas with her children from West to East Germany. Life in the east is difficult for children who have grown up in the west, particularly for children
Jan 03, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Wow I am so glad I found this book. It’s my 2nd by this author and even better - read it in 2 days on our Depoe Bay/Seaside trip over New Years. Her use of language is so beautiful, with memorable characters, setting, and plot. It’s the story of two siblings, a 15 year old girl with Downs Syndrome and her 20-year old brother who try to learn what happened to their mother who “died” 10 years ago after fleeing with them from West to East Germany about the time of the fall of the Wall to escape the ...more
Feb 19, 2021 rated it did not like it
This is not a book for the squeamish. Dark and disturbing to almost the last page. This is a novel about domestic abuse so horrific it seems impossible to believe a human being could conjour up or commit the atrocities that fill the pages. The perpetrator is a police officer in a high ranking position in Berlin in the years leading up to the fall of the Berlin Wall. His lofty rank insures that other policemen will fail to challenge any aspects of suggested abuse. He is a consummate liar, always ...more
Dawn Bialy
Mar 04, 2021 rated it it was amazing

A gripping read. Character development is, quite simply, amazing. The detail and depth of the words, thoughts, and actions of Lotte, the character with Down's syndrome, give the reader incredible insight into her very being. I began to actually "hear" her voice in my head toward the book's end. Ellory's tale has a level of poignant realism that is rare and powerful. Family, loyalty, sacrifice, brutality, unfulfilled dreams, right vs wrong, appearance vs reality, fear, courage, the tru
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20 likes · 4 comments
“A mother’s love is never perfect, but it is plentiful, dedicated and true. I may not be able to write love, but Lotte, love isn’t something you feel, it’s something you do.” 0 likes
“You carry me in your hearts, because I made them with my own. Hold me close forever as I hold you: in every beat. Mama” 0 likes
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