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 cousin, 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 and 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.
The Kommandant's Girl didn't catch me right away like the other book I read by Pam Jenoff. It took me a second to grasp that we had gone backward from that first chapter. It was confusing at first until I realized that the author had gone backward to convey the events leading to the now. After that I was hooked and I found myself getting invested in Emma's life, the challenge's she faced.
I enjoyed Emma's narration. I found I could understand a lot behind her thinking, how torn she could be about the things she had to do for the resistance. I loved how strong she was mentally. She goes through so much and yet she is able to keep her cool despite being put under some serious nerve wracking tasks. Most of all though what I loved about the way she was written was how despite everything she always saw the little good that was in a person.
I have never wanted to dislike a character so much but find that I really couldn't. The Kommandant was a character that has done some terrible things, yet you feel so drawn to him, you feel bad for him, you fall for him. Very much like Emma, you hate him but your affection towards him is there whether you really want to feel it or not.
Having this book focus on the resistance and those who are trying to make a difference was fascinating to me. These people risk their lives everyday doing what they do to attempt to stop the Germans from killing all these Jewish people. That takes a certain amount of courage that you wonder if you would be able to do yourself. Whether it be you doing what Emma did or being the front man it all takes courage.
This book doesn't necessarily feature a love triangle not in the traditional sense anyway. I loved the fact that Pam Jenoff didn't not acknowledge the fact that though Emma loved her husband dearly, she loved the Kommandant as well. The way she portrayed that confused affection was done really well and realistically.
The Kommandant's Girl is full of amazing characters, a raw story and authentic history setting. This book is getting 5 out of 5 birds from me! I will definitely continue to read books by Pam Jenoff. I have never enjoyed books written in history setting like I have with her books. Definitely recommend them to anyone who enjoys a great history read or those who are willing to give a book with history setting a shot. Worth the read!