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Families split by the wars.

Enemies Of The Heart - Rebecca Dean

This was an interesting look into the effects of both world wars, on a family with members from both sides of the fence. Two cousins, one American, one British, marry into a prestigious German family, early in the twentieth century. The German patriarch runs Remer steel, which funds their wealthy way of life, but when Vicky realises that the firm is supplying arms to aid the army in preparing for war, she removes her children to Yorkshire, leaving her husband behind in Germany.

 

The two cousins couldn't have been more dissimilar, and likewise the two Berthold brothers whom they marry, which gave rise to some interesting character interactions.

Their offspring, however, became a cast of thousands and as I was listening to the audio version it was sometimes quite difficult to keep a track of who was who.

 

The story wove between family relations and the more serious issues of war, suspected spies and prisoners and their awful treatment. Some prisoners of war were assigned to work at the Remer Steel factory and this was the part that I enjoyed most. What I really didn't enjoy were the descriptions of what everyone was wearing, particularly the ladies, when they first entered a scene - it caused a hiccup in the narrative and drove me mad (impossible to skim in an audio version).

 

It's always interesting to read about these wars from the German side, where life was no easier than it was in Britain, but these experiences are less often written in English, for obvious reasons. Rebecca Dean has both English and German ancestors and was well positioned to have an understanding of both sides. She handles this aspect well.

My three star rating is partly because of the infuriating fashion descriptions and partly because my audio version did seem to drag a bit. I personally would have preferred the book to have been shortened by at least 100 pages.