Published by Berkley Books on May 26, 2020
Genres: Historical Fiction
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FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Netgalley. All opinions are my own.
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.