At the Wolf's Table: Book summary and reviews of At the Wolf's Table by Rosella Postorino

At the Wolf's Table

A Novel

by Rosella Postorino

At the Wolf's Table by Rosella Postorino X
At the Wolf's Table by Rosella Postorino

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About this book

Book Summary

The internationally bestselling novel based on the untold true story of the women conscripted to be Hitler's food tasters.

"They called it the Wolfsschanze, the Wolf's Lair. 'Wolf' was his nickname. As hapless as Little Red Riding Hood, I had ended up in his belly. A legion of hunters was out looking for him, and to get him in their grips they would gladly slay me as well."

Germany, 1943: Twenty-six-year-old Rosa Sauer's parents are gone, and her husband Gregor is far away, fighting on the front lines of WWII. Impoverished and alone, she makes the fateful decision to leave war-torn Berlin to live with her in-laws in the countryside, thinking she'll find refuge there. But one morning, the SS come to tell her she has been conscripted to be one of Hitler's tasters: three times a day, she and nine other women go to his secret headquarters, the Wolf's Lair, to eat his meals before he does. Forced to eat what might kill them, the tasters begin to divide into The Fanatics, those loyal to Hitler, and the women like Rosa who insist they aren't Nazis, even as they risk their lives every day for Hitler's.

As secrets and resentments grow, this unlikely sisterhood reaches its own dramatic climax. What's more, one of Rosa's SS guards has become dangerously familiar, and the war is worsening outside. As the months pass, it becomes increasingly clear that Rosa and everyone she knows are on the wrong side of history.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"As engaging as a great film." - Vanity Fair (Italy)

"Unsettling and compelling…Stays with you, and for a long time." - La Repubblica (Italy)

"Masterful…A unique story in which every reader will see themselves reflected." - L'Unione Sarda (Italy)

"You'll fly into this novel with your heart in your throat and a constant feeling of identification all the way through to the final, magnificent chapter." - Io Donna (Italy)

"Compelling and truly well written." - Huffington Post (Italy)

"This book--which speaks of love, hunger, survival and remorse--will end up engraved on your heart." - Marie Claire (Italy)

"A necessary book of great power that brings to mind Primo Levi's The Drowned and the Saved and the finest Italian fiction." - La Riviera (Italy)

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Reader Reviews

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Emily C. (Naples, FL)

A Great Untold True Story
As a retired teacher of both history and English, I thought I had read all there was to read at World War II and Hitler's Germany. I was wrong.

AT THE WOLF'S TABLE by Rosella Postorino details a little known aspect of Hitler's Germany in this well-written and engaging novel. The plot of the novel is based on life of Margot Work, the last living of Hitler's food tasters.

Wolk and other young woman were recruited from among the German civilian population to taste Hitler's food and to check whether or not it was poisoned. These women, who had no choice, took to Hitler's table 3 times a day and, by eating, risked their own lives to save the Third Reich.

The nightmare of these experiences bind these women together every day. They are hungry everyday; they eat everyday; and they survive together; which, helps to create a strong bond between them. They also are forced into a totalitarian and paranoid situation in which it is difficult to tell whether a person is a friend or an enemy. Throughout the novel the main character Rosa Sauer asks the questions: who is a friend? what makes a friend? what is a true friendship?

Rosa also struggles with feelings of guilt. As the author said in an interview, Rosa's dilemma was one of the cost of survival. "You survive because you can eat, when others can not, and you're even paid to do it; the condition of victim and culprit, of test subject and privileged person together, this privilege which means to be guilty because you are working for the Fuhrer; and the paradox that eating is what keeps your alive, but at the same time it's what can kill you."

As Rosa says: "The ability to adapt is the greatest resource of human beings, but the more I adapted, the less I felt human."

This is a fascinating and gripping read. I highly recommend it. It provides rich fodder for an intellectually stimulating discussion.

Sylvia G. (Scottsdale, AZ)

Take a seat at this table
I've read a lot of books that deal with the Holocaust and Germany during the war years. This novel takes a new perspective. Told from the viewpoint of one of Hitler's tasters, the story shows the experience of being a regular German citizen in the war and the price that was paid by those who cooperated. Very well written, compelling and powerful. Definitely recommend.

Marsha S. (Nags Head, NC)

At the Wolf's Table
Just when I thought I had heard of every unimaginable thing that happened during the Nazi regime, here comes this story. Rosa is a survivor, but her story is a very different take on the others I have read. "Hired" by the Nazi regime (did she have a choice?), her job is to taste the food that was to be served to Hitler in case it was poisoned. Living with her in-laws while her husband is off to war, she engages in a course of actions that leave one wondering if she is making conscious choices, or just being human? This is a very well-written book which was fascinating to read because of the unique subject matter. Although I found it disturbing and painful to read at times, I recommend the book.

RoseMarie G. (White Plains, NY)

Great book club read!
I'm a big fan of historical fiction.
This is the story of Rosa - a food taster for Hitler. Her husband is in the war, she's had to leave her happy Berlin home to move in with her in-laws. And she and a group of women are eating to save Hitler from being poisoned.
And then she begins a "relationship" with one of the SS commanders.
Sounds crazy to say I enjoyed this book, considering it's subject. But I found myself staying up later than I should have to just read the next chapter.
I think it would be a great book club read.

Sue Z. (Cornelius, NC)

At the Wolf's Table
What a powerful story! Told in the first person by Rosa, a refugee from the Berlin bombings in 1943, who is forced by the SS to become one of the tasters of Hitler's food. Rosa is a very complex and conflicted character, mourning the death of her mother and facing the fact of her new husband missing on the Eastern Front. The added stress caused by the daily risk of death from poisoning only makes her life even more difficult. I foresee this book becoming a "word of mouth recommendation" on every reader's list as well as a book club favorite

Wendy R. (Pinehurst, NC)

Secrets spin a sticky web.
This book made me think about being forced to do something to survive. It would appeal to anyone who is interested in WW II history and book clubs. A sisterhood forms among an unlikely group of women who share meals to protect the "Wolf". The story will take you through heartbreak, love, betrayal, second marriages, aging and regret. This is a book you will think about long after it is finished. What if I would have been Rosa...?

...16 more reader reviews

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Author Information

Rosella Postorino Author Biography

Photo: Marco Rapaccini / Officine Fotografiche

Rosella Postorino is an internationally bestselling author and an editor. She speaks fluent English, Italian, French, and German. At the Wolf's Table is her first novel to be translated into English. It is translated by Leah Janeczko.

Author Interview

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