The Girl from Munich

Review by Marina Maxwell

Lotte lives in Munich and would love to follow her dream of becoming a professional photographer, but her parents insist she contribute to the German war effort in a more practical way. She takes an administrative job with the Luftwaffe, working for the handsome but married Oberinspektor Erich Drescher.

As the war escalates and Munich suffers bombing, Lotte is torn between her growing attraction to Erich and trying to keep alive her romantic illusions of a peaceful future when she and her childhood sweetheart, Heinrich, can marry and build a life together. But as the Nazi regime crumbles, Lotte and Erich are forced to flee and take to the road together while everything they ever trusted or believed in is ripped apart.

The somewhat naive Lotte is likeable enough, but the love triangle and resulting family arguments tend to get overworked to the point where there is a real risk of losing the reader’s sympathy with everyone. However, Lotte does redeem herself as she matures and is determined to no longer “live the lie” as she did under Hitler.

World War II novels from a German point of view are not as common as those from the Allied side, and this one offers a different focus on the chaos, displacement and family fracture that afflicted so many people throughout Europe. It is apparently inspired by the author’s own family history, and a sequel about the post-war German immigrant experience in Australia is planned. It will be interesting to see if these characters gain greater depth in another environment.