The German Woman
The German woman of the title is an English woman, Kate Zweig, a trained nurse married to a German surgeon, Horst Zweig. It is 1918 during World War I and together they work, healing injured soldiers from the battles in East Prussia. Fast forward twenty-six years, and Kate is now in London in the summer of 1944. Bombings, air raids, skeletal frameworks of once-magnificent structures, and massive casualties are part of everyday life. Kate, now widowed, meets Claus at a political rally. The speaker at the gathering is spewing propaganda to the crowd. Incensed by the disinformation, Kate steps forward and rebuts him with razor-sharp barbs. Claus notices Kate and, attracted to her spirit, introduces himself. An exiled American of German heritage, he makes propaganda films for the Ministry of Information. He also happens to be a spy supplying valuable information to the German military, information not always as accurate as it should be. He knows his life depends on secrecy and, trusting no one, he meets Kate—and romance turns to unexpected love. At some point, he becomes suspicious of Kate, and his dual loyalties shake his resolve. Kate is almost a silent, passive participant as the action is seen through Claus and his struggle.
Paul Griner shows a natural talent for subterfuge as he carefully creates a complex wall of mirrors that cause a magician’s illusion for the audience to solve. Passages of lyrical prose heightened my enjoyment of this book.