Review: THE PRISONER’S WIFE by Maggie Brookes

Review:  THE PRISONER’S WIFE by Maggie BrookesThe Prisoner's Wife by Maggie Brookes
Published by Berkley Books on May 26, 2020
Genres: Historical Fiction
Pages: 400
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Book Depository

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via 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.


About Maggie Brookes

Maggie Brookes is a British ex-journalist and BBC television producer turned poet and novelist.
The Prisoner’s Wife is based on an extraordinary true story of love and courage, told to her by an ex-WW2 prisoner of war. Maggie visited the Czech Republic, Poland and Germany as part of her research for the book, learning largely forgotten aspects of the war.
The Prisoner’s Wife is due to be published by imprints of Penguin Random House in the UK and in the US in May 2020. Publication in other countries, including Holland, Italy, Portugal, Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic will follow.
As well as being a writer, Maggie is an advisory fellow for the Royal Literary Fund and also an Associate Professor at Middlesex University, London, England, where she has taught creative writing since 1990. She lives in London and Whitstable, Kent and is married, with two grown-up daughters.
She has published five poetry collections in the UK under her married name of Maggie Butt. Poetry website:

24 replies
    • Suzanne
      Suzanne says:

      It’s a good one. I enjoy WWII historical fiction anyway, but I especially love when I can find a story that gives me a different perspective.

  1. Tanya @ Girl Plus Books
    Tanya @ Girl Plus Books says:

    I have *got* to read this one. It’s been on my radar for a bit and now, reading your review, I know it’s a must-read. When it comes to historical fiction, WW II is my preferred era. And I’m such a softie for an against-all-odds love story. Great review, Suzanne!

  2. Sam@wlabb
    Sam@wlabb says:

    It’s always incredible, when you read stories like this, such survival stories, just to find out they are fact based. I hope the ending was hopeful/happy?

    • Suzanne
      Suzanne says:

      YES! I thought the story was amazing anyway but then when I realized it was based on a true story, that really blew me away.

  3. trin carl
    trin carl says:

    Sounds like a great book review, and reminscent of ‘all the light we cannot see’ . I loved that you incorporated some of the synopsis so we could all see.

  4. RO
    RO says:

    This sounds like such a fascinating book, and one I’m going to grab asap. Definitely my type of story, and thanks for the reommendation. Sending some air hugs, RO

  5. Lydia
    Lydia says:

    This sounds like such a good read! If it’s okay to ask, did any of your relatives fight in World War II? My grandfather fought for the U.S. and he had a couple of very close calls in battle that he was pretty reticent to discuss. I always think of him when I read World War II novels.

    • Suzanne
      Suzanne says:

      I did not have any family members fight in WWII. My grandfather was Jewish though and he lost several family members that didn’t come to the U.S. with the rest of the family. I always think of him and of those we lost when I read these stories.

  6. Olivia Roach
    Olivia Roach says:

    Romance and love during wars is always such a difficult thing to uphold and have nutured but it inspires me all the time to read stories like this and seeing how love can conquer and bridge hate. It sounds like this one is definitely so emotional and hard hitting and also incredibly tense throughout the book… I will have to read this one!

    • Suzanne
      Suzanne says:

      Yes, it’s definitely an emotional read. I still can’t believe it’s based on a true story. For me that was just “Wow!”

Comments are closed.