Published: Random House Australia
Date: August 3rd 2015
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Ava fell in love the night the Nazis first showed their true nature to the world .' A retelling of the Grimm's Beauty and The Beast, set in Nazi Germany. It's August 1939 in Germany, and Ava's world is in turmoil. To save her father, she must marry a young Nazi officer, Leo von Löwenstein, who works for Hitler's spy chief in Berlin. However, she hates and fears the brutal Nazi regime, and finds herself compelled to stand against it. Ava joins an underground resistance movement that seeks to help victims survive the horrors of the German war machine. But she must live a double life, hiding her true feelings from her husband, even as she falls in love with him.
Gradually she comes to realise that Leo is part of a dangerous conspiracy to assassinate Hitler. As Berlin is bombed into ruins, the Gestapo ruthlessly hunt down all resistance and Ava finds herself living hand-to-mouth in the rubble of the shell-shocked city. Both her life and Leo's hang in the balance. Filled with danger, intrigue and romance, The Beast's Garden, a retelling of the Grimm brothers' 'Beauty and The Beast', is a beautiful, compelling love story set in a time when the world seemed on the brink of collapse.
The Beast's Garden by Kate Forsyth is a well researched and compelling story, set in Germany just prior to and during the Second World War. It is more accurately the retelling of The Singing, Springing Lark - a version of Beauty and the Beast.
I wanted to read this book, but held back, a little reluctant to enter again that horrifying era. Like the author my first introduction to it was through The Diary of Anne Frank. However once I opened The Beast's Garden and started reading I was soon captured by the characters and the plot.
I found reading a book set within Germany was different, I knew very little about Berlin during that time and the Resistance operations. It was an eye opener for me. Being given a viewpoint from Berlin looking out at the war was thought provoking. The atrocities of the Nazis, the bombing of the city and the desperation of the inhabitants of the city are all experienced through the eyes of Ava, Leo and their friends and families.
Ava is a resilient, courageous character. Her exploits and care for her Jewish friends never wavered. The treatment of the Jews is not glossed over and is often disturbing and real.
Ava's love for Leo was real and enduring. Leo was the very antithesis of what I had thought about when I thought of the German Nazi Officers. He is part of the resistance movement The Red Orchestra, a group that realise that Hitler is evil and mad. They put their lives at risk to try to rid their country of him.
As I read on I couldn't put the book down. This is a well crafted novel that engaged my mind and emotions. There are some excellent novels written about this time period and this book can hold its place very well among them.