Pleasant, but not Immersive – A review of The Berlin Girl by Mandy Robotham

World War II historical fiction. A favourite of mine. Usually if you gift me a book from that time period, I will read it and love it. Though there have been some anomalies on this blog here…

There is just so much to talk about and discover from studying World War II history altogether, and seeing the varying perspectives on such a huge historical event is always rewarding. In The Berlin Girl, we take a look at journalism.

Georgie Young scored herself a spot in reporting on the events happening in Germany in 1938, one of the few female journalists outside of lifestyle reporting to do so. This reporter for The Chronicle aims to make a name for herself through journaling one of the most important historical years in Germany to date, alongside Times journalist Max Spender and other acclaimed journalists from Europe and the US. However, things turn increasingly difficult as journalists mustn’t perceive themselves as enemies of the Nazi party, Georgie encounters many a cases of Jewish abuse and she finds herself falling for an oddly charming Gestapo member. And when her boss goes missing, she has more risks to take than just the words she writes to the masses.

From a historical perspective this was very entertaining to read. I studied similar events for my history class in my final year of high school – the events leading up to and after Kristallnacht – and to read about it from a far more intimate perspective was very enlightening. I was glad that the journalists weren’t able to predict everything despite being very investigative, which made the events feel very real upon occurrence. From the main perspective or Georgie ti felt very thorough.

However, the way it was told was very telley. As in the show vs tell rule. It mostly told of the events that unfolded and events went by quite quickly. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing – showing too much can give readers headaches sometimes. But I do think with how often things went from show to tell, it didn’t get me as deep into the story as I would’ve hoped.

That doesn’t discredit the writing style though. It really reflected the internal thoughts of Georgie and described scenes very well.This especially highlights through the stakes as they built up. With historical liberties taken, it was great seeing how the conflicts were handled and the outcomes of the novel being handled still on such a personal matter as well as the grander scale. They were woven together really well.

Another thing that I will credit is how feminism was handled in this novel. Sins in any piece of feminist media are moments that signpost how progressive the creators are for including a scene of such audacity. What we got in the Berlin Girl, however, was a showing of the feminist environment in journalism unfolding in a natural way – allies like Max at first making assumptions and then learning more and admiring Georgie and other female journalists as they showcased their skills and proof that they could walk among the other great journalists within their circles.

But altogether, there wasn’t anything that made it particularly stand out to me. It was nice, pleasant, but I think that telley writing style made me not get as immersed in the story as I would have hoped. So I’m not attached, but I’m glad I read it.

The Berlin Girl gets a score of 3/5. A pleasant story that I wish I was able to get deeper into.

Yours in writing


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