Hi there, I read “The Ragged Edge of Night” by Olivia Hawker a little while ago and loved it. Not usually a historical fiction fan, I picked this book as one of those Amazon First Reads. Didn’t know if I was going to read it. Glad I did!
Germany, 1942. Franciscan friar Anton Starzmann is stripped of his place in the world when his school is seized by the Nazis. He relocates to a small German hamlet to wed Elisabeth Herter, a widow who seeks a marriage—in name only—to a man who can help raise her three children. Anton seeks something too—atonement for failing to protect his young students from the wrath of the Nazis. But neither he nor Elisabeth expects their lives to be shaken once again by the inescapable rumble of war.
As Anton struggles to adapt to the roles of husband and father, he learns of the Red Orchestra, an underground network of resisters plotting to assassinate Hitler. Despite Elisabeth’s reservations, Anton joins this army of shadows. But when the SS discovers his schemes, Anton will embark on a final act of defiance that may cost him his life—even if it means saying goodbye to the family he has come to love more than he ever believed possible.
Here’s what I think
It turns out that this is based on a true story. Wow!
The guilt Anton feels is crushing even though there’s literally nothing he could have done to save the children. Still, that feeling drives him to seek redemption in the form of being a provider to the family. At the same time, Elisabeth is at the end of her ropes of being a widow trying to raise her children. In desperation, she hopes to find someone to marry – a marriage of convenience.
Just when you think life will be ho-hum now that they marry, things happen to threaten the family’s complacency. In the end, Anton might not have done great harm to the Nazi, but he contributes in his own small ways to the resistance.
I also read that before the Jews, the Nazi had started on the mentally handicapped and others they deemed “unfit for life”. Well, I guess that’s where that mentality comes from. It’s really not that different nowadays. In some parts of the country or the world, we’re on such a slippery slope. Do we want to be the new Nazi that we simply dispose of anyone who’s an inconvenience to the family, or the society? Is life only sacred when it’s convenient?
This story has left an impression on me. I highly recommend it.
To hear an excerpt:
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