Ellen's Reviews > The Kommandant's Girl

The Kommandant's Girl by Pam Jenoff
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's review
Feb 26, 2009

really liked it

I borrowed this book from our lending library at work and got totally hooked! I started reading it late Saturday night and stayed in bed most of Sunday finishing it. For someone who struggles with nonfiction, Jenoff's book gave me a window of understanding into the Nazi occupation of Poland during WWII.

I liked the book because it shies away from the overarching theme of "good vs. evil" present in so much literature that takes place during this era. The protagonist, Emma Blau, has been married just three weeks when the Nazis occupy Poland. A 19 year old Orthodox Jew, her husband is a political activist who is forced to go underground in order to protect both himself and her. Separated from her husband, Emma takes on a secret identity as a Gentile named Anna and soon finds herself recruited to work for the Kommandant, the second most powerful Nazi in occupied Poland. The sexual chemistry between the two is undeniable and soon, in an effort to gather information for the resistance, Emma find herself caught up in a passionate affair with the Kommandant.

I think the most interesting part about this book is the way that the human spirit adapts and copes to even the worst of circumstances, and how people can fall in love even when the world is crumbling around them. Emma's feelings for the Kommandant are complicated because he truly is a compassionate man, who simply isn't brave enough to stand up to the injustices he is forced to carry out. He also has a tragic past, which his experience with Emma ultimately mirrors.

This book begs the question "what would I do?" Emma takes extraordinary risks, with both her life and her heart, for what she believes is right. This book is a quick read, but definitely worth spending the weekend with!

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