The Women at Hitler's table by Rosella Postorino
Publisher: Harper Collins UK
Release date: 1 August 2019
Back cover blurb: Inspired by the powerful true story of Margot Wölk, this is a heartbreaking and gripping historical novel for fans of The Tattooist of Auschwitz and The Beekeeper of Aleppo. East Prussia, 1943. Hitler hides away in the Wolfsshanze – his hidden headquarters. The tide is turning in the war and his enemies circle ever closer. Ten women are chosen. Ten women to taste his food and protect him from poison. Twenty-six-year-old Rosa has lost everything to this war. Her parents are dead. Her husband is fighting on the front line. Alone and scared, she faces the SS with nothing but the knowledge every bite might be her last. Caught on the wrong side of history, how far is Rosa willing to go to survive?
The Women at Hitler's table is an important historical fiction novel. For it focuses on a wartime 'role' that is not well publicised at all. Of course, it probably is known that Hitler had tasters to test his food in case of poisoning by enemies. but I'm not sure it's so well known that these testers were Women.
Loosely based on the life Margot Wölk; one of Hitler's food testers, this novel focuses on the fictional Rosa Sauer. Rosa is living with her in-laws for barely a week when the knock on the door comes. SS officers, informing her that she is required to start work the next day with the words 'The Führer needs you'.
Rosa admittedly has 'never been a good German' and has no idea why she has been chosen, but she must accept her fate if she is continue to survive the War. And of course, when people are hungry due to rationing, it is not exactly a bad job.
Unless you consider the fact that if anyone does attempt to poison Hitler, then you could die...
Rosa and her fellow chosen women try not to think about this too much. Indeed, apart from some mild hysteria on the very first day of testing (quickly shut down by the SS guards in the food hall) the women seem to enjoy each others company and the role that they have been given.
They get to know each other well, and look out for each other. Sometimes a little too much. For Rosa has a secret. One that she cannot tell anyone. If anyone ever finds out, then she will endanger their lives as well as her own.
In times of war, we all make decisions that we may not make in other, more usual circumstances, and Rosa must decide if hers is worth the risk. Or if she should learn to be a 'good German' ...
The Women at Hitler's Table is available now via Amazon online and all good book shops.
Thank You to the publishers who approved my request in exchange for an honest review.