The Woman Outside the Walls
By: Suzanne Goldring
Publication Date: October 18, 2022
Published By: Bookouture
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In 1942, 17-year-old Anna, from Hamburg, Germany, hid from her parents that she was pregnant and that she was going to a special maternity home, where they took her baby boy and had him adopted. When she returns home, she sees an advertisement for a secretary position at a prison, and she thought this was going to be the start to her new, exciting life. Anna was a bit naïve; she thought the prison housed political opponents, but the reality was far more gruesome. Now, in London in 2016, Anna struggles with running away from her home to escape persecution. Her neighbors only know her as the sweet old lady next door who bakes wonderful cakes. When her school age neighbor Freddie asks her about her time during the war, he wasn’t prepared for what she had to say.
Wow. I enjoy historical fiction about WWII, but usually the books are from the point of view of one of the prisoners. This book was refreshing in that it was the view of someone who worked in one of the concentration camps/prisons. While the characters were fictional, I could see the story being real. The deception, the crimes, the gruesomeness, the aftermath, being scared – just all of it. Goldring did a great job of writing a very realistic novel; how Anna and her friends had to survive toward the end of the war was astonishing. The novel really makes one think – should someone who didn’t personally hurt anyone, who didn’t agree with what was happening, be prosecuted for being a secretary or in another like position? What if it’s your sweet next-door neighbor, who has been like family to you? This book is a great read, and an even better one for a book club. It would foster great discussion!