The Winter Garden by Jane Thynne
Published by Simon & Schuster
13th February 2014
Berlin, 1937. The city radiates glamour and ambition. But danger lurks in every shadow...
Anna Hansen, a bride-to-be, is a pupil at one of Hitler's notorious Nazi Bride Schools, where young women are schooled in the art of being an SS officer's wife. Then, one night, she is brutally murdered and left in the gardens of the school. Her death will be hushed up and her life forgotten.
Clara Vine is an actress at Berlin's famous Ufa studios by day and an undercover British Intelligence agent by night. She knew Anna and is disturbed by news of her death. She cannot understand why someone would want to cover it up, but she soon discovers that Anna's murder is linked to a far more ominous secret.
With the newly abdicated Edward VIII and his wife Wallis set to arrive in Berlin, and the Mitford sisters dazzling on the social scene, Clara must work in the darkness to find the truth and send it back to London. It is a dangerous path she treads, and it will take everything she has to survive...
I've not read anything by Jane Tynne previously (she's written 4 other novels) but as this one features Diana and Unity Mitford, it was recommended that I do as I'm a huge Mitford admirer. What can I say? I really enjoyed it.
The historical content in this novel is huge, let's not pretend otherwise. If you know nothing about Nazi Germany prior to reading The Winter Garden, you will come away with an understanding of the way life was for people in Germany prior to the start of the Second World War. As a former History teacher, for me this was an added extension of my own knowledge, and I loved the book for that.
Clara Vine, the central character, is a successful actress, but also an undercover agent for Great Britain and she manages to involve herself in the apparently random death of a bride at one of the Bride Schools that were set up in Germany at the time. Little does she know where this interest will take her. And of course, being a spy, who can she really trust? Interspersed with this are the real life characters who made up Hitler's entourage, plus his foreign admirers, including the Mitfords and Edward VIII and his new bride Wallis Simpson, all ready to add a bit of glamour to Nazi Germany.
This is the second book featuring Clara Vine, the first being Black Roses, and I'm now off to hunt this one down. If you like historical thrillers, then this one will be right up your street.
Miss Chapter x