It was Ursula Klausen’s dream to have a family of her own but the conflicts between countries have made it impossible. She became Mrs. Hermann at the age of twenty-two. Spoke her vows to a steel helmet while her husband Andreas was on the other side of the world fighting a war in the name of his country. A few weeks later, she received a letter carrying a piece of heartbreaking news about Andreas’s death in the line of duty. Everything she had hoped for and dreamed of died with him.
Ursula’s job as a prison guard had helped her occupy her grief-stricken thoughts. But, the dangers of war are another thing to worry about. One day, bombs hit near Plotzensee resulting in the escape of four prisoners. Ursula saw one of them — a scared English man, named Tom Westlake, begging for her mercy. She bravely allowed the man to flee as the memories of her husband swept over her. But later, she felt a pang of guilt for betraying her motherland. The ensuing events will force Ursula to hide Tom and help him return to his country. They will develop an emotional attachment that will soon change their perception of the war.
About the book: War Girl Ursula is the first book in the War Girls series written by Marion Kummerow.
Review: The plot was set in Germany during World War II. Kummerow’s details about the war are not hard to digest because, prior to reading this, I was already familiar with the history through watching a few WWII-themed movies like the Book Thief and Anne Frank’s Diary.
This book speaks not just about the awful stories of war, but also the huge part of the women in these dire times. Ursula works as a prison guard watching over the incarcerated women who have committed treason, espionage, and those who are considered as a political opponents. Worse, some are innocent but were held responsible for the crimes they didn’t intentionally do. Working in that dreadful place isn’t an easy job for an empathetic person like Ursula. Helping and showing sympathy to these people will only harm her good standing. Anna, on the other hand, works as a nurse. She has witnessed how patients come and die at the hospital. Enemy or ally, their lives have to be saved from death. But, saving could be futile at times because an opponent might commit suicide and a healed soldier will return in the battle just to be tortured again.
Ursula and Tom’s romantic feelings have developed easily. I guess that’s what war and loss could do. She’s a woman with a certain longing and wanting to feel protected. In a similar way, Tom felt scared and alone. Hiding from the enemies who would kill him without hesitation. Tom’s feelings are subtle. While Ursula has been guarded with her emotions since she just lost her husband. Overall, it has resulted in an unspoken attraction. The little moments they’d spend together weren’t enough to say that it is love. Though, they have developed complete trust and regard for each other. Their story will continue in Book 10 entitled Together and I’m looking forward to reading it.
The book is composed of twenty-four chapters. It has a solid plot. Dramatic and romantic. Sad but hopeful. The steps they took to keep Tom from the eyes of the Gestapo is suspenseful and thrilling.
Characters: The Klausen family has raised intelligent and strong ladies. Ursula is like the Meg March of the Klausen family — dreaming of having a husband and children of her own. As a German, she has been patriotic and compliant with the war rules. However, her beliefs change gradually, not only through her sisters’ influence but also by hearing the prisoners’ personal stories and her feelings towards Tom. Ana is the ambitious career-oriented one. Dreaming of becoming a human biologist someday. Lotte, at the age of sixteen, has a strong sense of what is right and wrong. She’s opinionated and pragmatic, believing that the Nazi regime has made their country a place of horror.
Recommendation: Do read this book if you are interested in historical romance novels particularly set in the World War II era. I also recommended this to readers who like strong and inspiring female characters. The book contains occasional profanity and horrifying details about the war so might as well not to endorse it to the younger audience.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.