A special speed blog from Elspeth McKendrick:
I’m fascinated by the ’20s, ’30s, and WWII era. My husand is of German descent and his grandmother received Nazi government read letters from her relatives prior to the war. BLOOD MOON OVER BRITAIN highlighted the Allied side of this war but what about the other side? What was it like in Germany? Thus PERFIDIA was born.
I don’t read a lot of historicals these days. I’m not interested in wallpaper books where the history is more for atmosphere than included for its accuracy. So it takes a lot more to motivate me to buy a historical than it would a paranormal, urban fantasy, speculative romance, or heck, even a plain old vanilla contemporary.
But as a kid, I had a terrible fascination with the Third Reich. It started with reading The Diary of Anne Frank, which was part of my school curriculum. But that was only the tip of the iceberg. Who was she, this girl who wrote of things I could scarcely imagine? And yet she also seemed like a normal girl, like me. It was the my first brush with the idea of my own mortality — if terrible things could come to Anne, who gazed out her window longing for freedom, what might befall me?
I studied the Holocaust for almost a year, trying to understand how such a hideous thing could’ve happened. How people let it happen. At 12, I gazed at pictures from Dachau, Auschwitz, and Belzec. I read about the pens and the ovens and the experiments.
I don’t think anything had ever impacted me as seriously in my whole life, prior to that. I went to the American Legion to talk with WWII veterans about what they saw. I watched old movies. And I wept over people whose names history had forgotten.
So given my particular history, when I heard someone had written a historical, set against the backdrop of Nazi Germany, I was skeptical. How could this possibly work? But other reviews made me curious. So I added Perfidia to my list of must-read books.
And this book is remarkable. Though it fulfills the requirements of a romance, it offers so much more. I was left awash in admiration for the way the author handled the raw truth of the era. She offered no white-wash, and this book was brutal in many ways. No illusions, no romance, which is odd in a romance novel, but there you have it. She drove home the vicious immediacy of life in wartime with her writing.
Reading Perfidia, I felt as though I were watching one of those glorious black and white films, complete with dialog that sounds dated and quaint by our standards, but completely true to the time. She peppered the book with genuine slang. I could see everything very clearly; the book had a truly cinematic feel. Cary Grant or Bogie might’ve starred in it. All the women would dress in smart suits and hats, wear that greasy lipstick, and everyone smoked and drank more than was good for them. There was a sense of rebellious excess — if we might die at any moment, why not live to the fullest?
A cautionary note: this book offers no sugar-coating, and its brutality might not please everyone. But if you’re looking for something different, this one’s for you.
Anyone else read this? What did you think?
And our random prize winner from yesterday should email me. Happy Early Christmas! Kim W, I need to hear from you!