‘Enemies of the Heart’ – Rebecca Dean
Berlin 1909, cousins Zelda and Vicky are about to meet the Remer brothers – an evening that will change their lives forever…
Vicky Hudson is only seventeen when she marries Berthold and moves from her idyllic Yorkshire home to Berlin. Adjusting to her new life isn’t easy, not least when she discovers that the Remer family are producing weaponry for the German army. With war looming, Vicky flees with her children, leaving Berlin, and her husband, behind.
Striking dark-haired beauty Zelda Wallace is eager to meld into Berlin’s high society and sever all ties with her American identity. But beneath her exotic looks, Zelda holds a deeply hidden secret that if revealed, could threaten everything she holds dear…
To sum it up, “wow”. Once I got started in this novel and got to know the characters, I couldn’t put down Enemies of the Heart. Spanning two world wars, this follows how a German-English family is tested through loyalties towards their country versus their own personal beliefs.
The way that author seamlessly moves the narrative away from Vicky and Zelda to their children meant that the pace of the story continued and it really did not feel like a 600-page novel. However, I was never left wondering what was happening to the other characters in different locations. The lengthy chapters covered several areas at once over a small time period and it was fascinating to read how the family’s lives were changing as a result of the Second World War in particular.
The constant fear that a member of their extended family had been injured or killed in the war kept the tension throughout the story. The lack of communication that the characters had with one another had me desperate to find out whether the family would be reunited at all and I was always wanting them to know that their siblings/parents were doing ok. When these small reunions did happen, it was a relief shared by the characters and myself alike and proved a relaxing respite from the terrors of the war.
It was incredible to read how each member of this family’s life became so different to one another. Although so many of the siblings lived in Berlin, their experiences of war were different yet, equally terrifying. Indeed, it made me realise the hardships that Germans suffered and provided an alternative angle to the Second World War, one that I had not previously considered.
Most of this book was read with my heart in my mouth as I feared each character’s actions would expose them as challenging the Nazi regime. Dean has you loving the characters and caring for them: wanting each to return to their loved one safely and for them all to be reunited. It is this that made this such an enjoyable read and one that I couldn’t put down. The evolution of all of the characters and narrative was a clever way of telling the story and I found that by the end of the novel, I had a connection with all of them, even characters who I didn’t really like at the beginning of this story.
I cannot recommend this book enough and would definitely read this book again. It does not drown readers in historical fact and the character lives that you follow are all varied. There is never a dull moment and the way that everything links together at the end was very satisfying. I am really keen to read other books by this author and if they are anything like Enemies of the Heart, then I know I am in for a real treat.