BookBrowse has a new look! Learn more about the update here.

Daughter of the Reich: Book summary and reviews of Daughter of the Reich by Louise Fein

Daughter of the Reich by Louise Fein

Daughter of the Reich

A Novel

by Louise Fein

  • Critics' Opinion:
  • Readers' Opinion:
  • Published:
  • May 2020
    560 pages
  • Rate this book

  • Buy This Book

About this book

Book Summary

For fans of The Nightingale and All the Light We Cannot See, a spellbinding story of impossible love set against the backdrop of the Nazi regime.

She must choose between loyalty to her country or a love that could be her destruction…

As the dutiful daughter of a high-ranking Nazi officer, Hetty Heinrich is keen to play her part in the glorious new Thousand Year Reich. But she never imagines that all she believes and knows about her world will come into stark conflict when she encounters Walter, a Jewish friend from the past, who stirs dangerous feelings in her. Confused and conflicted, Hetty doesn't know whom she can trust and where she can turn to, especially when she discovers that someone has been watching her.

Realizing she is taking a huge risk—but unable to resist the intense attraction she has for Walter—she embarks on a secret love affair with him. Together, they dream about when the war will be over and plan for their future. But as the rising tide of anti-Semitism threatens to engulf them, Hetty and Walter will be forced to take extreme measures.

Will the steady march of dark forces destroy Hetty's universe—or can love ultimately triumph…?

Propulsive, deeply affecting, and inspired by the author's family history, Daughter of the Reich is a mesmerizing page-turner filled with vivid characters and a meticulously researched portrait of Nazi Germany. In this riveting story of passion, courage and morality, Louise Fein introduces a bold young woman determined to tread the treacherous path of survival and freedom, showing readers the strength in the power of love and reminding us that the past must never be forgotten.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!


Media Reviews

"Fein shows the slow twisting of the people in Hetty's city, suggesting parallels in the United States today, which book discussion groups can parse out into fuller understanding." - Library Journal

"Though it presents an intriguing idea, and the storyline itself is realistically valid, the characters and dialogue felt underdeveloped. This is truly a shame since this story feels like it could've been a great epic war story the likes of classics such as Gone with the Wind." - Paperback Paris

"Louise Fein's Daughter of the Reich is so real--a beautifully written and emotional wrenching journey into World War II tumult and tragedy. Amazingly, this novel is both sweeping and intimate. Although the book brings history to life, its dynamic characters present a timely truth we should all grasp and embrace: We must stand up against those who preach hate." - Karen Harper, New York Times bestselling author of The Queen's Secret

"I adored this book because not only is it beautifully written, it also tells a familiar story from a very unfamiliar perspective: that of a naïve German teenager caught up in the rise of Nazism, and her gradual realization of the inhumanity driven by Aryan fanaticism. Louise Fein's characters help us understand how so many people were taken in by Nazi propaganda, and the terrible, heartbreaking dilemmas they faced trying to protect the people they loved. This is historical fiction at its absolute best." - Liz Trenow, New York Times bestselling author of The Forgotten Seamstress

"Beautiful and absorbing — a vital story of kindness, and a reminder that humanity can flourish in the darkest of times. The ending, in particular, was breathtaking and wonderful." - Caroline Hulse, author of The Adults

"Heartbreaking and thought-provoking story about forbidden love during Nazi Germany. Had me gripped to the very end." - Luke Allnutt, author of We Own the Sky

"Daughter of the Reich is an incredibly moving, utterly captivating, beautiful story of love, courage, and the strength of the human spirit. It was both heartbreaking and hopeful at once. The ending had me in tears." - Rhiannon Navin, author of Only Child

"Daughter of the Reich is a wonderful book. The Romeo and Juliet story of a young couple in Leipzig, Germany, in the years before the second world war is poignant and heartbreaking enough, but when you factor in the chilling message that anyone is capable of possessing the most appalling attitudes towards their fellow humans, and worse, then this becomes a book for our time. I cannot recommend it highly enough." - Gill Thompson, author of The Oceans Between Us

This information about Daughter of the Reich was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

Reader Reviews

Write your own reviewwrite your own review

Susan B. (Hahira, GA)

Honouring the past
I must admit, due to the current political atmosphere, the rising of global, as well as national antisemitism, the resurgence of nationalism and being underquarentine from an invisible invader, I postponed reading this book. A decision I now, totally regret. A more timely and heartfelt endeavour has not been written in a long time. Her research and desire to paint a truthful portrait of a painful time in world history is evident from the first page to the last.

She tells the story through the eyes of her protagonist, a child and who is more painfully truthful than a child. They are but clay that we mold and shape to our ideals until one day the world forces their eyes to be opened.

Herta is just such a child. She is the only daughter of two loving parents and the sister to a loving brother. She sees what they want her to see, sheltered in the family womb until one day, she is confronted by the ugly truth of a changing world. One she really doesn't understand. The rhetoric at home is kept to adults only until it invades her school, her friends and her surroundings. Friends once welcomed are shunned, without explanation. School mates and favorite teachers become persona non grata again with no explanation. Doctrine becomes the norm and taught as the only acceptable truth.

As all children do, they parrot what they are told is the truth until one day they begin to question. In the 30's in Germany during the rise of Adolph Hitler, this makes for a very tenuous and dangerous existence. There is Hitler's truth or there is no truth. Her father, once the editor of a local newspaper becomes more and more involved in the Nazi party, rising within its ranks. Her mother becomes the perfect wife of such a man devoting more and more time to her "good works". Her brother becomes involved in the youth movements with eyes on the Luftwaffe and all things childish are brushed to the side. Friends who no longer "fit" are abandoned or scorned. Things that Herta just takes for granted without understanding until one day, when she encounters one of those friends. A friend who was so close to the family a friend who saved her life as a young child, a friend who meant so much to all until he was shunned. When the explanations are made, her world begins to shatter. She begins to question everything. The facade begins to shatter and she enters a very dangerous realm. One difficult for an adult let alone a teenager. Trying to balance both worlds in such dangerous times leads to dangerous decisions. Decisions a teenager like Herta, a child of privilege, is not truly capable to handle. She is forced to develop a strength she was not groomed to possess.

Inspired by the past of her father's family, Fein dove into the research of the era, location and facts that existed during those dangerous years. Like many, including friends of my family, these times were to be buried and not talked about for a very long time. It was too painful. Too ugly. Too frightening to think it could ever rear its ugly head again.

I applaud her and cannot recommend this book highly enough. I assure you it will be high on the list for several of the book clubs I belong to. This is a must read for both its passion, history and as a warning for these dangerous times to not let this happen again.

Thank you BookBrowse for bringing this book to my attention and thank you Ms. Fein for a marvelous book.

Carol N. (San Jose, CA)

1930s Germany
This is the second book I've read in the last two months that is set in the pre-World War II time period of the 1930s as Hitler infiltrated Germany. Though set in a similar time period, each book explored it differently. The first book was based on the author's father's diaries, very fragmented, and lacking the development of too many characters, it was so hard to follow its storyline. However, the book is told from the perspective of Hetty, the daughter of a high-ranking SS officer, wh0 was raised to be a dutiful daughter of the Reich. In her late teens, she is reunited with a childhood friend, Walter, who is perfect in every way, but one. . . He is Jewish. Realizing that he stands for every belief she had previously been warned about, the two of them end up falling in love. As the anti-Semitism escalates and Walter's existence is in question and Hetty is forced to make a decision to save his life by working to get him released from his concentration camp imprisonment to safety in England.

This book provides the reader with the feeling of being transported to a different time and place. This powerful, character driven novel looks at the brutalities as inflicted upon the Jewish people and make it difficult to read. Even though the story lugged a bit in the earlier chapters, I soon found the story engaging and filled with emotional touches. Despite the families' lies, their dark secrets, treachery, and heartbreak, the reader comes to know and honestly love each of the many flawed characters. It is filled with persons you will love or hate, and remember long after you have finished your reading.

Cheryl P. (Lebanon, PA)

Daughter of the Reich
This book was beautifully written about a dark and violent time in history. To follow the growing pangs of innocence and growing threat of war these main characters will enter into your heart. You feel their pain and their joy of their relationship. This story will leave you breathless.

Vicky R. (Roswell, GA)

WWII winner!
I absolutely loved this story. I read many books in this genre and Daughter of the Reich has been one of the best. The despair in this story became almost tangible. More than a love story... more than historical fiction: rather both wrapped up in one novel with characters you root for.

Jean L. (Omaha, NE)

You Must Be Carefully Taught
I do confess that I almost stopped my reading of DAUGHTER of the REICH by Louise Fein. The brainwashing used by the Nazis to convince the youth of Germany to buy into their world of hate was painful to me. I am glad that I finished the book and was able to see redemption in Hetty as she became her own person.

Hetty Heinrich is the daughter of an SS officer and the editor of a pro Natzi newspaper in Leipzig, Germany. She thought that her father was a great man. She believed everything he told her about the Jewish population until her own experience told her something different. At one time Hetty was proud to be a part of the new Thousand Year Reich

The book is a story that focuses on friendship, loyalty, and love. Karl is Hetty's older brother. She could tell him anything. As Karl became involved in gliders and airplanes, he became less involved with Hetty. She felt she was losing her best friend. Walter was Karl's best friend until he wasn't. Walter had saved Hetty from drowning when she was little. She looked upon him as her hero. Tomas has been Hetty's friend since the days of the old neighborhood. He became a Natzi gangster and a proud member of the German army. Erna is Hetty's best girlfriend from school. They shared secrets.

It is not often that a book is written from the point of view of a young Natzi girl. It helps to explain why the German population allowed Hitler to become the monster that he was. A population must be carefully taught.

Jessica F. (Revere, MA)

A Different Perspective
This novel offered a different perspective on Nazi-Germany. Often times we read about Jews who were persecuted and their suffering in concentration camps. Here we see several perspectives: steadfast Nazis, compassionate by-standers, innocent Jewish people, and the daughter of the Reich who is torn between what her family believes and what her heart believes.

This novel is wonderfully written with rich characters, setting, and the portrayal of deep emotions of all involved. There are enough twists and turns to keep the pages turning. There are many gut-wrenching moments but there are also times of joy and happiness.

Daughter of the Reich would be suitable for book clubs and anyone over 16 years old, as there are some sexual references. Overall, a lovely novel for anyone who enjoys this genre!

...36 more reader reviews

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

More Information

Louise was born and brought up near London. After a law degree at Southampton University, she worked in Hong Kong and Australia, and enjoyed travelling the world before returning to London to settle down to a career in law and banking. She holds a master's degree in creative writing from St Mary's University, London. Louise lives in the beautiful Surrey countryside with her husband, three children and small dog.

More Author Information

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

More Recommendations

Readers Also Browsed . . .

more historical fiction...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Become a Member

Join BookBrowse today to start
discovering exceptional books!
Find Out More

Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: The Coin
    The Coin
    by Yasmin Zaher
    A popular choice for book jackets in recent years, perhaps especially in the historical fiction ...
  • Book Jacket: The Night of Baba Yaga
    The Night of Baba Yaga
    by Akira Otani, Sam Bett
    When Yoriko Shindo gets into a brawl on a busy street in 1970s Tokyo, she has no idea what the ...
  • Book Jacket: The Anthropologists
    The Anthropologists
    by Aysegül Savas
    A documentary filmmaker, Asya is interested in the "unremarkable grace" of daily life, "the slow and...
  • Book Jacket: Mood Swings
    Mood Swings
    by Frankie Barnet
    This book begins with a bombastic premise. Seemingly fed up with the heating planet, the world's ...

BookBrowse Book Club

Book Jacket
The 1619 Project
by Nikole Hannah-Jones
An impactful expansion of groundbreaking journalism, The 1619 Project offers a revealing vision of America's past and present.

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The Very Long, Very Strange Life of Isaac Dahl
    by Bart Yates

    A saga spanning 12 significant days across nearly 100 years in the life of a single man.


Solve this clue:

L T C O of the B

and be entered to win..

Who Said...

Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers.

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.