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Resistance Women: Book summary and reviews of Resistance Women by Jennifer Chiaverini

Resistance Women

by Jennifer Chiaverini

Resistance Women by Jennifer Chiaverini X
Resistance Women by Jennifer Chiaverini
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  • Published in USA  Feb 2020
    640 pages
    Genre: Historical Fiction

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Book Summary

One of BookBub's best historical novels of the year and Oprah magazine's buzziest books of the month.

From the New York Times bestselling author of Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker, an enthralling historical saga that recreates the danger, romance, and sacrifice of an era and brings to life one courageous, passionate American—Mildred Fish Harnack—and her circle of women friends who waged a clandestine battle against Hitler in Nazi Berlin.

After Wisconsin graduate student Mildred Fish marries brilliant German economist Arvid Harnack, she accompanies him to his German homeland, where a promising future awaits. In the thriving intellectual culture of 1930s Berlin, the newlyweds create a rich new life filled with love, friendships, and rewarding work—but the rise of a malevolent new political faction inexorably changes their fate.

As Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party wield violence and lies to seize power, Mildred, Arvid, and their friends resolve to resist. Mildred gathers intelligence for her American contacts, including Martha Dodd, the vivacious and very modern daughter of the US ambassador. Her German friends, aspiring author Greta Kuckoff and literature student Sara Weitz, risk their lives to collect information from journalists, military officers, and officials within the highest levels of the Nazi regime.

For years, Mildred's network stealthily fights to bring down the Third Reich from within. But when Nazi radio operatives detect an errant Russian signal, the Harnack resistance cell is exposed, with fatal consequences.

Inspired by actual events, Resistance Women is an enthralling, unforgettable story of ordinary people determined to resist the rise of evil, sacrificing their own lives and liberty to fight injustice and defend the oppressed.


Meet the Real "Resistance Women"

In Resistance Women, New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Chiaverini delivers an enthralling historical saga that recreates the danger, romance, and sacrifice of the Weimar Republic and brings to life one courageous, passionate American—Mildred Fish Harnack—and her circle of female friends who waged a clandestine battle against Hitler in Nazi Germany.

Mildred Fish Harnack (1902-1943) A native of Milwaukee, Mildred was a warm and intelligent and a student of literature at the University of Wisconsin. She married a fellow scholar Arvid Harnack and moved to his homeland of Germany in 1929. In the face of growing fascism, Mildred and Arvid forged a covert resistance network called the Rote Kapelle (Red Orchestra.) Mildred Harnack was the only American woman to be executed at the explicit order of Adolf Hitler.

Greta Lorke Kuckoff (1902-1981) A native of Frankfurt an der Oder, Greta met Mildred and Arvid while studying economics at the University of Wisconsin, an academic achievement that belied her working-class origins. Greta assisted Jewish friends struggling against the Aryan Laws and helped translate Mein Kampf into English in order to warn people in Great Britain and the United States of his deadly ambitions.

Sara Weitz (1912-2006) A composite character inspired by Rote Kapelle members Liane Berkowitz, the daughter of a famous Russian Jewish symphony conductor; and the Jewish art students Katja Casella and Lisa Gervai-Egler, who, passing for Aryan, worked as couriers for the resistance and hid fugitive Jews in their studio.

Martha Dodd (1908-1990) The impulsive and flirtatious daughter of the American ambassador to Germany. Martha at first praised the "noble, vigorous, youthful" Nazi movement, but her admiration turned to horror after she witnessed their atrocities firsthand. She used her influence within the American embassy—and the Reich hierarchy—to help Jews flee Germany.

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Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. Had you heard of Mildred Fish Harnack or the Red Orchestra before reading Resistance Women? What role do novels have in our understanding of history? Did Resistance Women change your perception of World War II or Nazi Germany?
  2. From Mildred's and Greta's humble beginnings to Sara's and Martha's more privileged upbringings, Resistance Women tells the story of women from very different backgrounds. Discuss how their unique personalities contributed to the resistance fight. Which woman's story resonated with you the most?
  3. In response to Mildred saying that she is no longer surprised by the fighting between the Communist Reds and the Nazi Browns, Arvid responds, "Darling, you must never become accustomed to the extraordinary and ...
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Reviews

Media Reviews

"This fictionalized version of real-life heroes is told with prose that ranges from forthright to eloquent, and the focus on the road to war and evolving attitudes regarding fascism and Nazism is exceptionally insightful, making for a sweeping and memorable WWII novel." - Publishers Weekly

"A riveting, complex tale of the courage of ordinary people." - Kirkus Reviews

"This tale is dense with historical detail, but Chiaverini never loses her focus on her four extraordinarily courageous, resourceful, yet relatable narrators. Chiaverini's many fans and every historical fiction reader who enjoys strong female characters, will find much to love in this revealing WWII novel." - Booklist

The information about Resistance Women shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's online-magazine that keeps our members abreast of notable and high-profile books publishing in the coming weeks. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author of this book and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

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Author Information

Jennifer Chiaverini Author Biography

Jennifer Chiaverini is the New York Times bestselling author of several acclaimed historical novels and the beloved Elm Creek Quilts series, as well as six collections of quilt patterns inspired by her books.

Her original quilt designs have been featured in Country Woman, Quiltmaker, Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks Volumes 3-5, and Quilt, and her short stories have appeared in Quiltmaker and Quilters Newsletter.

A graduate of the University of Notre Dame and the University of Chicago, she lives with her husband and two sons in Madison, Wisconsin.

About her historical fiction, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes, "In addition to simply being fascinating stories, these novels go a long way in capturing the texture of life for ...

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