In the sleepy town of Bratislava in 1933 Greta Weissensteiner falls for Wilhelm Winkelmeier, a bookseller from Berlin. The couple and their families are increasingly challenged by the disintegration of the multi-cultural society of Czechoslovakia. The story unfolds further as war comes to all of Central Europe, with its torment, destruction and unpredictability – even after the fighting has stopped.
This is my fourth review for WaAr
This book is the first in the series, The Three Nations Trilogy. I have already read the second book, Sebastian, (yes, i read them out of order) however the stories aren’t set one after the other like a traditional series, each book is set in a similar era and are just each from a different perspective of a family living in a different Central European country. I think it is quite a unique and clever way of writing a series.
The story follows the life of Greta, the eldest daughter of Jonah Weissensteiner through before and during WWII. Through consequences of passion, Greta is whisked away to live with her new husband, Wilhelm Winkelmeier on the family farm. However with the political situations occurring in Germany, Greta’s Jewish ancestry becomes a burden to the Winkelmeiers. Through the strength and the luck of the Weissensteiners, Greta and her family face the challenges before them, persevering to make it out the other side.
I enjoyed reading The Luck of the Weissensteiners. I found it well written and interesting. It was informative and gave insight to what it was like for the people living in Slovakia before and during WWII. I think it was also close to my heart because i am of Czechoslovakian ancestry. My grandma was Czechoslovakian (she has since passed away) and her parents left by boat a few years after the end of WWI because of the political insecurity that was still present.
Even though this was a work of fiction (based on historical events), i found that it was almost like a written documentary. It was written very factually, which i found i actually quite liked. It did prevent me from fully connecting with all of the characters though because even though there were emotional situations occurring, the tone of the book wasn’t very emotional, it was very rational.
I also really appreciated the epilogue. It was well detailed and really tied up all the loose ends. I definitely feel that a lot of books have a rushed ending, and sometimes they try to make it up with an epilogue (which is completely fine, however most of the epilogues are pretty much, “and they lived happily every after. The end.”). I was really impressed with this epilogue and how without spoiling anything, it wasn’t all “happily ever after” but it was explained well and very realistic. I think that’s what also made it seem like a written documentary.
I must admit there were some parts towards the end of the story that were a little bit unrealistic. Again, without spoiling anything, i found some of the characters and situations a bit too lighthearted and carefree for the situations they were in and also the era.
The map at the beginning of the book was also really helpful in understanding who was controlling the different parts of Czechoslovakia. It was a nice touch.
Overall it was an insightful read and i would definitely recommend it to those who like historical fiction. I would probably also recommend it those who aren’t really fans of fiction either because of the way it was written.