This is a bit of a departure for Midwood in some ways - yes, the book is still set in World War II and yes the lead character is still a strong, tough, and very feminine woman, but this time our heroine, Emilia, is on the wrong side of the Nazi atrocities. A beautiful young Jewess, whose Father was too slow to see the evil in the Nazi philosophy, is caught between two impossible choices; surrender to the sexual demands of the Nazi soldiers or die. She chooses to submit to their vile needs and thus begins a succession of men who would use and abuse Emilie, but never break her.
This is not always an easy book to read - it is stark, at times horrific, but as a personal record of life under the Nazi jackboot, it is very compelling. This isn't a history book, though, it is historical fiction and as such the author has poetic license. History will tell us the liberators were often as vile in their treatment of women as the captors had been, but in this book we focus only on the Nazi atrocities.
As with all good stories, there is a strong moral to be had from Emilia and I guess that would be twofold: "If you haven't walked a mile in my shoes, don't dare to judge me." and "The first casualty of war is not necessarily, truth, but decency." One thing that resonated throughout the story, for me was the constant question Emilia kept asking herself; "Why me? Why us? (Jews). What did we ever do wrong?" Sadly, seventy years on, Jewish people are still asking that same question. Why us? What did we do wrong?
I loved this book, as I've loved all of Midwood's books and eagerly anticipate her newest book, which I understand is set in occupied France. I, for one, can't wait. A wonderful author and fully deserving of her success.