The Diplomat’s Wife
The Kommandant’s Wife #2
by Pam Jenoff
Why did you choose this book? This was a book club selection
When did you read this book? September 2017
Who should read this book? Readers of historical adventure fiction; Pam Jenoff fans
Source: library ebook
My Rating: ✰✰✰½ 3½ Stars
Bookclub Rating: ✰✰✰✰ ¼ 3¼ Stars
Here is a synopsis of The Diplomat’s Wife from Goodreads
How have I been lucky enough to come here, to be alive, when so many others are not? I should have died.… But I am here.
1945. Surviving the brutality of a Nazi prison camp, Marta Nederman is lucky to have escaped with her life. Recovering from the horror, she meets Paul, an American soldier who gives her hope of a happier future. But their plans to meet in London are dashed when Paul's plane crashes.
Devastated and pregnant, Marta marries Simon, a caring British diplomat, and glimpses the joy that home and family can bring. But her happiness is threatened when she learns of a Communist spy in British intelligence, and that the one person who can expose the traitor is connected to her past.
This was a last minute selection for our book club. We had a book club set on reserve that didn’t come in as we expected and we had about 10 minutes to come up with something else. Because we all have ereaders, we started browsing Hoopla for a replacement selection that we could all access quickly. This turned out to be a pretty good on-the-fly selection!
The book opens in a Nazi prison camp during WWII, with Marta Nederman regaining consciousness, much to her disappointment. She has been beaten senseless by her Nazi captives numerous times, and hoped the last beating would kill her rather than having to endure another beating. She hers her captors returning — but is relieved to find it is her Allied rescuers!
The war ends and Marta recovers slowly in a refugee hospital. I’m going to jump way ahead here to prevent spoilers. Marta is now in London, married to a British diplomat. She is recruited to travel to Prague as a spy, but now instead of the Nazis, her nemesis is the Russian communists. The story is full of suspense and danger for Marta and her companions, and the last couple of chapters were fast-paced and kept me on edge.
While overall I enjoyed the book, there were a few things I found annoying.The first was Marta. During the war she’d been a Resistance fighter, full of courage and resourcefulness. But in London, she was often timid and hesitant, unable to decide what she should. And often, in my opinion, she made some really bad choices!
The second thing I found annoying was how many times the characters should have died, only to have a miraculous recovery. I know a miracle makes a good story, but I think it can be overdone, and was in the story. Overall though, I did like most of the characters — at least the ones you would expect to be likeable. I also liked the ending, as unrealistic as it was.
It’s important to note that my book club did not agree with my assessments. They were find with Marta’s personality change, attributing to just wanting someone to take care of her and make all the decisions after all she’s suffered through. They also didn’t mind the numerous miracles. And as you might expect, they all rated the book more highly than I did.
Another thing to know about this book — it is a sequel to The Kommandant’s Girl by the same author. I’ve had this one on my bookshelf for several years, but have not yet read it. It was not necessary to read before The Diplomat’s Wife. There is enough background information given that I didn’t feel lost. However, you may want to read the book as it set around the events of the war and focuses on one of the characters that is only a bit character in The Diplomat’s Wife.
You can visit the author’s website to get discussion questions or read excerpts of either book.
My rating is 3 ½ Stars and our book club rating is 4¼ Stars.