I just finished this book. It was a lot of things including suspenseful, exciting, informative, romantic, historical and sad. Sad books are not my favorite but it was still a good read. I guess what I am saying is that I prefer happy endings and that's all I will say about that. In short it is about a Jewish girl living a double life during the invasion of the Germans in her Poland country.
Although a fiction, the author says this about the book "Finally, I have come to realize through the writing of this book that the term "historical fiction" is somewhat of an oxymoron. While creating imaginary characters and events, I have endeavored to remain true to the spirit of those who lived and died during World War II and the Holocaust, and to realistically depict the full range of human strengths, frailties and emotions brought out by this tragic and remarkable era."
So although the characters are fictional, Jenoff incorporates things that occurred during the war in her book: things such as the Jewish resistance that was going on underground, the use of double identities to help out the movement, and some of the terrible occurrences of the Holocaust.
The characters seems very real and their experiences realistic as well. I once again found myself sympathetic to the "bad guy." And was intrigued by the dilemma the Kommandant's girl found herself in and having this internal battle of loving two men, her husband and the Kommandant, both very likable. A highlight for me was when she was able to see her father for the last time who was imprisoned in a camp. They spoke through a small opening, a lucky but risky, last farewell. They exchanged sad and happy news, their love for each other, and a few things that tied her to her real identity. My heart broke to read the description of her father, her thoughts of what he must be going through. I can't imagine what these people went through during the war. And I cried and thought about how much I take for granted.
This book got me interested in finding out more about what happened in Poland when the Germans invaded and imprisoned the Polish Jewish Community.
I found a thesis compiled by the efforts of many universities, scholars, and groups that contains in it many of the experiences of these women who had double identities to help in the resistance movement. They were Jewish women who passed as gentile Polish people due to their Aryan looks and fluency in Polish and other languages.
The thesis includes the following about the women: http://www.theverylongview.com/WATH/essays/courier.htm
The couriers were a group of remarkable women who accepted a unique responsibility to their people and to history. Variously referred to as liaisons, runners, girls, and messengers, the couriers worked selflessly for the Jewish resistance in Poland through the duration of the Holocaust. Their pragmatic benefit was to smuggle guns, documents, money and encouragement. On another level, they represented the identity, existence and future of the Jewish people. They left a legacy of defiance to, and heroism within, one of the most oppressive system of terror ever developed.
Polish resistance leader Jan Karski cited other reasons why women became couriers. To Karski, women were better suited than men for espionage: "They were quicker to perceive danger, more optimistic of the outcome, and could make themselves less conspicuous; they were more cautious and discreet, had more common sense and were less inclined to risky bluffing."45
If you are interested in reading more about the history of Krakow go to the following link a history