The Ambassador’s Daughter

Written by Pam Jenoff
Review by Nanette Donohue

Margot Rosenthal spent the majority of the war in England with her father, a professor. Now her father is one of the diplomats attending the peace conference on behalf of their native Germany, and Margot is getting her first look at the devastation that the Great War has wrought. When a chance encounter with a mysterious woman named Kryzia introduces Margot to a group of radicals, their leader enlists (and then blackmails) Margot into assisting their cause. She has access to information that the radicals need, both from her father and from Georg, a German naval officer who has hired Margot to assist with translating documents. But everyone has a secret, and as Margot gets further enmeshed in the intrigues surrounding the peace conference, hers are exposed, leaving her and those around her in emotional peril.

Jenoff’s novel explores the personal and political tensions of the peace process that followed World War I. As a German Jew, Margot is torn between her loyalties to her country and the drive to assimilate and leave her faith behind—a drive typified by her wealthy uncle, who seems to sympathize with the rising tide of anti-Semitism that is sweeping the country. Nobody in The Ambassador’s Daughter is who they seem. Like war, alliances are formed and dissolved, dramatic and surprising events change everything, and the aftermath can be devastating.