Review: The Kommandant's Girl by Pam Jenoff

Description (from cover):

‘Nineteen year-old Emma Bau has only been married for three weeks when the Nazis invade her native Poland. After her husband, Jacob, is forced to disappear underground as part of the resistance movement, Emma soon finds herself imprisoned in the ghetto with her parents. There she meets one of the resistance leaders and with his help, she is able to escape the ghetto and live under an assumed, non-Jewish identity.

Emma’s already precarious situation is complicated by her introduction to Kommandant Georg Richwalder, a high-ranking Nazi official who insists that Emma come to work for him as his assistant. In this position, Emma has the opportunity to provide information to the resistance movement and potentially help her still-imprisoned parents. To do so, however, she must become perilously close to the Kommandant, a troubled man with a dark secret whose romantic intentions are clear. Emma makes the difficult decision to become involved with the Kommandant and, as their relationship intensifies, she is forced to acknowledge her own undeniable feelings for him. Desperately, Emma wrestles with questions of loyalty and duty until at last she is able to locate information sought by the resistance movement regarding the Nazi liquidation of the ghetto. Spurred by this information, the resistance undertakes the fateful bombing of a Nazi cafe, unleashing a chain of events that will change Emma’s life, and the lives of those she loves, forever.

Based in part on actual events, The Kommandant’s Girl is a compelling tale of love and courage in a dangerous and desperate time. Unique in voice and evocative in historical detail, the novel’s widespread appeal stems not only from its eternally popular subjects of World War II and the Holocaust, but also from its timeless themes of hope, struggle and defiance in the face of overwhelming odds.’

My thoughts:

After I finished reading The Ambassador’s Daughter, I knew that I had to read another one of Pam Jenoff’s works. I picked this one up expecting to find a different story with some familiar characters from The Ambassador’s Daughter and I wasn’t disappointed. Emma is a Jew during the German invasion of Poland and anyone knows that WWII was not the time nor the place to be a Jew. Her family is split up as her parents are forced into improvised ghettos and her newlywed husband has to leave her in order to go underground to help fight the resistance cause. She soon finds herself imprisoned in the ghetto with her parents and soon an opportunity arises where she can leave the ghetto and pose as a Polish gentile. She hesitates to leave her family, but decides that she can help more being on the outside. She goes to stay with her husband’s aunt posing as a gentile relative and her charade begins. Soon she meets Kommandant Georg Richwalder and finds herself in enemy territory working as the Kommandant’s assistant. She dreads that she has to surround herself with the people she hates, but she does what she has to in order to survive and make sure her family is okay.

This tale is the beautiful story of a young woman who has to pretend to be something she is not in order to survive. The terror that the Nazis swept across Europe, especially Poland, is rampant in this book and the author really catches the essence of the period. I could sense the fear of being caught out as a Jew or just for doing something opposing the general feeling of the government. People were being sent to concentration camps, being murdered and facing the horrors of the Holocaust. These people lived in fear every single day of Nazi occupation and the author really captures that in this story. That is the part that I am left most with after I finished reading it. The desperation and the terror evoked on people during this time.

Emma is a well developed character and you can’t help but cheer her on from the sidelines. You want everything to turn out okay, but you know the uncertainty of the times might leave you disappointed. Emma is strong in the face of danger and must use her wits in order to survive. I admire that type of quality in a character. The only issue that I had with this book is that it doesn’t neatly wrap up at the end. In essence, the reader is left hanging and I’m not sure if that was intentional to be covered in a later story or if that is really where the story ends. There were some unanswered questions that I felt would have been nice to have been cleared up, but alas, it is not so. However a good read for a different perspective on WWI for historical fiction lovers who enjoy a good tale with strong historical overtones.

Overall Rating: 4

Title:  The Kommandant’s Girl
Author:  Pam Jenoff
Series:  The Kommandant’s Girl #1
Publisher:  MIRA
Publication Date:  March 1, 2007
Pages:  400
Genre:  Historical Fiction
Get It:  Amazon; Barnes & Noble

Disclaimer: This book was purchased by myself and I reviewed this book without compensation of any kind. All thoughts and opinions are solely mine.

4 thoughts on “Review: The Kommandant's Girl by Pam Jenoff

  1. The Diplomat's Wife is sequel (I'm pretty sure) to the The Kommandant's Girl. I am starting The Ambassador's Daughter tonight after these kids are in bed. I am really looking forward to it and am glad to hear that you enjoyed this one as well.Kathy (


  2. I really enjoyed 'The Ambassador's Daughter'..I gave it 5 stars, so obviously I loved it!! The only one I have left to read is 'The Diplomat's Wife' and I already bought it for my kindle and can't wait to get around to reading it!! Thanks for stopping by!Kimberlee


  3. Glad to see you enjoyed it. I loved this book, plus the sequel, The Diplomat's Wife. I've enjoyed all of Jenoff's books, and I have The Ambassador's Daughter waiting patiently to be read. Glad to see you loved that one!


  4. I still have to read 'The Diplomat's Wife' but I am glad that you enjoyed it. Pam Jenoff has a way of making a story come alive and I really like that. I will have to check out her other books soon.Kimberlee


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