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August 3, 2022

The War Girls by V.S. Alexander ~ a Review

by Susan Roberts

1939 - "None of them could have known what was about to happen.  Only Hitler knew." (loc 68)

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

book cover of World War II historical fiction novel The War Girls by V.S. Alexander
July 2022; Kensington; 978-1496734792
audio, ebook, print (448 pages); historical fiction

I have read a lot of World War II fiction but nothing I've read has made me feel the despair of the characters who lived through the Blitz in London and the Warsaw Ghetto like this book.  It was so well written that I felt like I was part of history instead of just reading about it.  I cried with the characters and felt their fear as bombs were dropped in London and the Nazis worked toward their final solution in Warsaw.

The year is 1940 and the Majewski family in Warsaw believe that they will be safe even though they are Jewish because the father has a needed job of inspecting meat in a large hotel to make sure that it's safe and kosher.  Stefa, her parents, and her younger brother all live in a nice house in a rich neighborhood.  Hannah's older sister was living in London with her aunt and uncle.  She left the family because she felt restrained by her life in a Jewish family especially since her parents were starting to look for a husband for her.  Hannah didn't totally understand why her sister left but she knew that she missed the closeness that she and Hannah had always had and wonders about her new life in London.  Hannah's life in London is wonderful until the fall of 1940 when the Germans started bombing London continuously.  For eight months the Luftwaffe dropped bombs on London and other strategic cities across Britain.  After a tragic night of bombing, her aunt and uncle are killed and she ends up in the hospital where she is approached by a woman who asks her to join the OAS.  They feel like she would be an excellent spy since she knows so many languages and because she used to live in Warsaw.  After her training is completed, she gets dropped into Poland with the objective of finding out more about the Germans' plans and radioing that information back to London.  She's been told not to try to rescue her family but she knows that once she's in Warsaw, she will try to find them. 

In Warsaw, all of the Jewish families are removed from their homes.  Some of them are immediately sent to the camps and others are forced to live in a small walled-off area called the Warsaw ghetto.  Life is horrible - there isn't enough room or food and the half a million Jews in the Ghetto are faced with starvation and disease and the constant threat of deportation to the concentration camps.  The Nazis' cruelty to the Jewish families is continuous and it seems as if they make their lives difficult just for the fun of it.    Stefa joins the resistance group in the ghetto and does what she can to ruin the German's plans.  She, her sister and a friend from the Aryan part of Warsaw call themselves the War Girls and fight to rescue their family and friends against the overwhelming odds that exist.  Will the courage and the love between the two sisters be enough to save their family and loved ones from being sent to the camps or will the German hatred of the Jewish people overwhelm their lives and love for their family?

The characters in this book are extremely well written.  The two sisters, Hannah and Stefa are brave beyond words, and their love for each other and their family is strong.  The author did very deep research into life in the Warsaw ghetto and described it in such detail that I sometimes felt as if I was there.  Have tissues close because there will be some tears but the overwhelming feeling at the end of the book is that despite the sadness and loss of the war, love can overcome all the hatred that exists.

V.S. Alexander has been one of my favorite authors of historical fiction since I read his first book The Magdalen Girls in 2016.  His characters are all well written and believable and his plots are well researched and exciting.  If you haven't read any of his books, I highly recommend them all.

The Magdalen  
The Taster  
Her Hidden Life
The Irishman's Daughter
The Traitor
The Sculptress

Buy The War Girls at Amazon

Susan Roberts grew up in Michigan but loves the laid-back life at her home in the Piedmont area of North Carolina where she is two hours from the beach to the east and the mountains in the west.  She reads almost anything but her favorite genres are Southern Fiction and Historical Fiction.  You can connect with her on Facebook.


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