Book Review: The Edelweiss Sisters

The Edelweiss Sisters by Kate Hewitt

1938, Salzburg. A powerful story of hope, forbidden love, and incredible courage, about three sisters who will risk everything—even their own lives—as part of the resistance movement in Nazi-occupied Austria.

Johanna, Birgit and Lotte Eder have always lived quiet lives, working in their father’s clockmaking shop and helping their mother in the house. But like many other Austrians, they find it impossible to ignore the changes in the world around them.

At first Johanna finds it hard to believe the Nazis pose a real threat. But then her father hires Franz to help in his shop. He’s kind and soulful, with dark eyes that twinkle with intelligence. But he’s Jewish, and as Johanna falls for him, she realizes that loving him puts them all in danger.

Then comes the Anschluss—the reunification of Austria and Germany under Nazi rule. The three sisters’ lives have become ever more separate with Lotte joining the convent at Nonnberg Abbey and Birgit’s secret involvement with the Resistance. But as Johanna realizes how mistaken she was about the level of danger, she begins to see that it may be down to her to protect the man she loves.

She knows that she can’t do it alone though. She will have to turn to the people she trusts the most: her sisters.

The three of them work together to try to get Franz to the safety of Switzerland, and they soon prove invaluable to the Resistance. But they’re risking everything. Can three women who would die for each other, also be prepared to die for what is right?

The sisters’ subsequent journey from Nazi-occupied Salzburg to the devastating concentration camps of Ravensbruck and Mauthausen will show the strength of human spirit like never before. As, out of the darkness, a tiny seed of hope flowers…

The Edelweiss Sisters is such a heartbreaking tale, that I hardly knew where to begin when it came to sitting down to write about it. It is a story full of heartbreak, love, and courage.

The Edelweiss sisters are Johanna, Birgit, and Lotte, and the book focuses on their lives both leading up to, and after, the Anschluss (Nazi occupation of Austria). Johanna is the oldest sister, who falls in love with the Jewish apprentice that works for the family business. Birgit is the middle child, generally used to being invisible, who becomes a fighter with the resistance. Lotte is the youngest sister who finds herself being called to become a nun.

The Edelweiss sisters follows the three sisters in the days, weeks, months, and years leading up to the Anschluss, as well as the time afterwards. It is told from the perspectives of each of the three sisters, so you get to see how certain things and events affected each of them as they went in their own directions. Specifics like Kristellnacht, and the Anschluss itself, and you can see each of them contemplating the implications and consequences, as well as their own thoughts and emotions regarding each event.

I actually love the way this story is told. I could see the fear and uneasiness as events and the uncertainty of the future began to unfold. I was so desperate to discover what happened next, that I never wanted to put it down. I might have stayed up until 4am one night reading this (kind of regretted that choice the next day), I didn’t want to stop.

The Edelweiss Sisters is set in Austria. I don’t think I’ve read any WWII books set in Austria, so I definitely enjoyed the new to me setting for a story like this.

My heart broke the longer the story went on, but it was definitely worth it. The Edelweiss Sisters is about hope, faith, family, love, courage, and sisters.

I received a free ARC copy of The Edelweiss Sisters from Netgalley.

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