The German Wife is an odd name for a novel that is equally about a German wife and an American wife. Kelly Rimmer’s novel follows the two very different lives of Sofie, who is married to a German rocket scientist during World War II, and Lizzie, who lived in the Texas panhandle during the dust bowl of the 1930s and eventually marries an American rocket scientist. The two women unpleasantly collide in Huntsville, Alabama in the 1950s when their husbands work together for NASA.
Sofie’s story centers on how her genius husband, Jurgen, is physically and financially forced to work for the Nazi party and eventually join the SS. As much as they despise the Nazis, they know they must toe the line to protect their children and save their own lives. This is especially painful since Sofie’s best friend, Mayim, is Jewish. After the war, Jurgen is kidnapped by the United States under Operation Paperclip. He is initially held prisoner at Fort Bliss, then allowed his freedom and the right to bring his family to America.
Lizzie’s story focuses on her love for her brother, Henry, who suffers from depression and eventually PTSD after serving in Germany during the War. Lizzie and Henry hate that the German scientists who were members of the Nazi party are allowed to work freely in the United States. While Sofie is trying to rebuild a life in America, Lizzie is determined to make it difficult for her. Lizzie’s mentally unstable brother adds even more tension to the situation since he believes Jurgen is out to get him.
The constant back and forth of timelines seemed disjointed at times. I didn’t like Lizzie’s character, especially her relationship with her husband. Sofie was a much more interesting and thought-provoking character. Both women are survivors who will do whatever is necessary to protect the ones they love, including turning a blind eye.
3-5 stars, rounded down. Many thanks to NetGalley and Harlequin Trade Publishing, Graydon House for my advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review. This novel will be published on June 28, 2022.