In the spring of 1942, in a small German city, Maria Hummel’s grandmother died in childbirth. Within months, her husband remarried and was drafted to work in a Third Reich hospital, leaving behind a frightened new wife and three sons under the age of 6.
This amazing true story is the inspiration for Hummel’s arresting new novel, Motherland, which imagines the lives of Mitläufer, or Germans who abided by Nazism so as not to be persecuted themselves.
Motherland follows a fictionalized family, the Kappus. Frank is a reconstructive surgeon called in to help save disfigured soldiers. His new wife, Liesl, is left alone to care for the boys--one of whom is growing increasingly more peculiar--while contending with air raids, dwindling food supplies and a cramped house filled with German refugees.
The book deftly moves between the voices of Frank and Liesl--from the brutal front lines to the devastated home front. And by steering clear of more traditional WWII narratives (the allies, the death camps), Hummel illuminates an oft-neglected population: Were these people complicit or were they ignorant?
But Motherland is also larger than its historical context; it’s a moving tale of hope, compassion and the lengths we go to for the ones we love. Petition your book club to add it to the roster.