Daughter of Reich – Book Review

Hello everyone! I finished People Like Us by Louise Fein just yesterday, staying up all night and wow….I just had an emotional ride with the book. So I am going to start my review!

‘I nearly drowned and Walter rescued me. That changes everything.’

Leipzig, 1930s Germany.

Hetty Heinrich is a perfect German child. Her father is an SS officer, her brother in the Luftwaffe, herself a member of the BDM. She believes resolutely in her country, and the man who runs it.

Until Walter changes everything. Blond-haired, blue-eyed, perfect in every way Walter. The boy who saved her life. A Jew.

Anti-semitism is growing by the day, and neighbours, friends and family members are turning on one another. As Hetty falls deeper in love with a man who is against all she has been taught, she begins to fight against her country, her family and herself. Hetty will have to risk everything to save Walter, even if it means sacrificing herself…

  • Publisher: Head of Zeus (May 7, 2020)
  • Publication Date: May 7, 2020
  • Genre:- Jewish Fiction/Historical Fiction
Louise Fein

Louise Fein was born and brought up in London. She harboured a secret love of writing from a young age, preferring to live in her imagination than the real world. After a law degree, Louise worked in Hong Kong and Australia, travelling for a while through Asia and North America before settling back to a working life in London. She finally gave in to the urge to write, taking an MA in creative writing, and embarking on her first novel, Daughter of the Reich (named People Like Us in the UK and Commonwealth edition). The novel was inspired by the experience of her father’s family, who escaped from the Nazis and arrived in England as refugees in the 1930’s. Louise lives in the beautiful English countryside with her husband, three children, small dog and the local wildlife who like to make an occasional appearance in the house. Louise is currently working on her second novel.

This book was actually released this month and is the debut book of author Louise Fein. The plot like sounded interesting and since I am fascinated with Holocaust and WWII history, I bought this book from Amazon.

So in the year 1929, Hetty Heinrich almost got drowned in the lake and was saved by a boy named Walter Keller who also happened to be her brother’s best friend. Here’s a bit of an extract from the beginning.

I finally gather the courage to look directly at Walter. His wavy blond hair is half-dry, half wet. He is saying something to Karl, but then he turns and looks at me, and his face breaks into a smile. His eyes are the warmest, kindest blue…

So that’s the first impression of Walter to Hetty. Then fast forward to the year 1933, when Hitler comes to power in Germany and things start changing in both Hetty’s and Walter’s life. And despite Walter having blond hair and blue eyes, a perfect “Aryan” in Nazi’s eyes, in reality in fact, he is a Jew. So which means, his life is getting worse. Hetty on the other hand moves from a crappy apartment to a nice mansion like house after her father becomes a higher ranking Nazi official, his newspapers printing pages of Nazi propaganda, Karl joins Hitler Youth Movement and Hetty joins BDM. Hetty wants to be the perfect “German” girl, obeying the Reich and Hitler “Fuhrer” and vowed to follow the commands. Then she meets Walter and then suddenly, everything changes and Hetty would do anything for her love to Walter, to save him from the Nazis, even if she was acting against the Nazi’s ideologies.

The author has written that this was somewhat based on a real life experience on one of her relatives, who moved from Germany to England. Her own father, was a Jewish lawyer who moved to England in 1933, after Hitler came to power. The author has initially wanted to write this book as a Jewish perspective then changed her mind and wrote in a German girl’s perspectives, a German girl living during the Reich period.

This book is actually quiet an emotional read. And also heartbreaking as well. Had Hitler never came to power, maybe Hetty would have dated Walter openly, maybe Walter wouldn’t lose some of his family or his house, maybe Walter would never leave Hetty. Things would have been normal. I also as a reader struggled with the fact, how the Hitler and Nazis, slowly brainwashed their citizens to hate Jews, calling them as “pigs who are out to ruin the German race or Jews out to destroy the world” which to me and everyone would sound ridiculous. In the first few chapters, Hetty herself vowed to obey Hitler but when her relationship with Walter started, she realized that they were all lies.

I also like the friendship between Erna and Hetty, how Erna acted as a true best friend, helping Hetty out during the difficult times Hetty was facing. It also warms up your heart that not all people support Hitler or his policies, like Erna’s family for example, who are willing to help the Jews and others who are persecuted to escape. I also like the part about children, being separated from their parents and were shipped to England for safety until they will be reunited again, which actually happened in real life (known as Kindertransport). But the most emotional of all is the night of Kristallnacht, the part where Hetty tried to save Walter. It also break your heart that people watch helplessly at the burning synagogues and Jews thrown out of the streets. It was actually too emotional to read since you know it really happened on the night of November 9th 1938.

Germans reminded to never forget at Kristallnacht events | News ...

I also like the romantic relationship between Walter and Hetty, risking probably their own lives, especially about the fact that it was illegal for any German to have a sexual relationship with each other. I like how they care for each other, how to me it was like a modern “Romeo and Juliet” story. The author has very well written about their forbidden romance and as a reader you feel worried and hoped that they will not get caught. Just another thing, you feel disgusted at how Nazis are so into the racial purity that they would do anything to keep their race pure.

Most of all, I really like the ending.

Overall, the author seemed to have done tremendous research on this book, and did a good job of making the reader engage into the story. To many of us, this book serves as a history lesson to all of us. reminding us about the horrors of the Nazi rule. It was actually heartbreaking and emotional to read. Worth five stars!

P.S. The U.S. Version is known as Daughter of Reich.

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One thought on “Daughter of Reich – Book Review

  1. Pingback: The Ice Cream Book Tag – Tropical Girl Reads

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