Book review: Fifteen Words by Monike Jephcott Thomas

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  • Publisher: Clink Street Publishing
  • Published:  (November 22, 2016)
  • Pages:  293
  • Genre:  Historical Fiction

Book Description:

Two young doctors form a profound and loving bond in Nazi Germany; a bond that will stretch them to the very limits of human endurance. Catholic Max – whose religious and moral beliefs are in conflict, has been conscripted to join the war effort as a medic, despite his hatred of Hitler’s regime. His beloved Erika, a privileged young woman, is herself a product of the Hitler Youth. In spite of their stark differences, Max and Erika defy convention and marry.

But when Max is stationed at the fortress city of Breslau, their worst nightmares are realized; his hospital is bombed, he is captured by the Soviet Army and taken to a POW camp in Siberia. Max experiences untold horrors, his one comfort the letters he is allowed to send home: messages that can only contain Fifteen Words. Back in Germany, Erika is struggling to survive and protect their young daughter, finding comfort in the arms of a local carpenter. Worlds apart and with only sparse words for comfort, will they ever find their way back to one another, and will Germany ever find peace?
Fifteen Words is a vivid and intimate portrayal of human love and perseverance, one which illuminates the German experience of the war, which has often been overshadowed by history.

Buy the book:  Amazon UK

unnamedAbout Monike Jephcott Thomas

Monika Jephcott Thomas grew up in Dortmund Mengede, north-west Germany. She moved to the UK in 1966, enjoying a thirty year career in education before retraining as a therapist. Along with her partner Jeff she established the Academy of Play & Child Psychotherapy in order to support the twenty per cent of children who have emotional, behavioural, social and mental health problems by using play and the creative Arts. A founder member of Play Therapy UK, Jephcott Thomas was elected President of Play Therapy International in 2002.

REVIEW:

A riveting and raw account of life during WWII when Germany was on the verge of losing the war.  We see how, despite coming from very different backgrounds, Erika and Max choose to make a life together.  Both are doctors.

While Erika remains behind, Max goes is conscripted to work for the Nazis as a doctor.  He detests Nazi ideology but is determined to help as many of the wounded as he can.  A timid man by nature, an early boyhood experience helping his aunt rescue the wounded as a result of a bomb blast targeting civilians gives him the courage to put his life at risk to save others.  He is aware that, if he survives the war, he will always carry the emotional scars of the war with him.

Intense, nail-biting and thought-provoking, this novel reveals what every-day Germans who did not agree with Hitler felt as the war raged on.

The author’s writing style is unique, lyrical and poetic.  It helps temper the rawness of the atrocities perpetrated by so many of those who, due to abuse of power, rendered the lives of so many to sheer misery.

For both Erika and Max, fifteen words of dialogue continue to link them together.  But they may not be enough.

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