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The Kommandant's Girl    by Pam Jenoff order for
Kommandant's Girl
by Pam Jenoff
Order:  USA  Can
Mira, 2007 (2007)
* * *   Reviewed by Lori Waddington

The year is 1939, and Jacob and Emma Bau are newly married and very much in love. Their happiness, however, is marred by the fact that they are both Jewish and Adolf Hitler has just declared war on their native country of Poland. Within weeks of their wedding, Jacob is forced to go into hiding. Emma is taken by the Jewish Resistance to live with Jacob's Catholic Aunt, Krysia Smok. There she assumes a new identity as Anna Lipowski, a Gentile. Krysia and Anna are soon joined by Lukasz, a three-year-old Jewish boy whose parents were killed by the Nazis.

Soon after Anna's arrival, she is introduced to a high-ranking Nazi official, Kommandant Richwalder, who is immediately drawn to nineteen-year-old Anna. When the Kommandant offers her a secretarial position in his office, she is reluctant to accept. However, when Anna realizes that working for the Kommandant would give her access to information that could aid the Resistance, she decides to take the position. Once Anna begins work, she discovers that she is drawn to the Kommandant as well. Anna tries to tell herself that she is just lonely for Jacob, but as time passes, the attraction between Anna and the Kommandant becomes harder to ignore. Anna's daily stress at hiding her true identity, and the urgency to obtain information to help the Resistance as more Jews are murdered, make for a truly gripping read.

The Kommandant's Girl is one of those rare novels that captivate from the opening paragraph to the last page. Pam Jenoff has created characters so multifaceted that there were times I actually felt sorry for the Kommandant. I especially enjoyed the interaction between Krysia, Anna and Lukasz, as these three became somewhat of a family. Kudos to Pam Jenoff for reminding us of the people, both Jews and Gentiles, who risked their lives for others during the Holocaust.

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