Occasionally, I read something so poignant and so profound that it speaks to my soul. Mandy Robotham’s debut novel, The German Midwife, is such a story. Set in Germany during the final years of World War II, this first-person narrative tells the tale of a midwife named Anke Hoff.
As far as Anke is concerned, she has the best job ever: She regularly witnesses miracles as she welcomes new life into the world.
Anke also understands how alike all mothers are. Anke sees every mother wear that same small smile when she first cradles her child in her arms, and each mother would do anything to protect her newborn.
Anke treats all women and their babies with care and compassion. Because of this, she is labeled a political dissident, arrested by the Gestapo, stuffed into a crowded train car, and shipped off to a labor camp.
While incarcerated, Anke uses her medical training to care for the camp’s mothers and their newborns, regardless of whether they are Aryan or Jew.
Soon, Anke’s abilities attract the attention of her captors, who offer her a way out. The catch: She must secretly serve as the midwife to a sometimes revered, sometimes reviled, infamous fraulein.
Torn between her political beliefs and her oath as a midwife, Anke soon sees that not everything is either black or white, good or evil. More often, life and the people living it are shades of gray, a blend of pros and cons, and that the only pure goodness in this world can be found in a baby’s face.
The German Midwife is an exceptionally well-written, thought-provoking novel. It made me question my preconceived notions and challenged me to consider all aspects of a situation before making a judgment. Therefore, I would highly recommend this book to anyone, especially those who enjoy World War II history, romance novels, or women’s literature. Trust me: You will not be disappointed.