Sunday 1 March 2020


Title: The Traitor
Author:  V. S. Alexander
Genre: Historical Fiction, WW2
Publisher: Kensington Books
                      One More Chapter (Harpercollins UK)
Release Date: 25th February 2020

BLURB from Goodreads
Drawing on the true story of the White Rose—the resistance movement of young Germans against the Nazi regime—The Traitor tells of one woman who offers her life in the ultimate battle against tyranny, during one of history’s darkest hours.

In the summer of 1942, as war rages across Europe, a series of anonymous leaflets appears around the University of Munich, speaking out against escalating Nazi atrocities. The leaflets are hidden in public places, or mailed to addresses selected at random from the phone book. Natalya Petrovich, a student, knows who is behind the leaflets—a secret group called the White Rose, led by siblings Hans and Sophie Scholl and their friends.

As a volunteer nurse on the Russian front, Natalya witnessed the horrors of war first-hand. She willingly enters the White Rose’s circle, where every hushed conversation, every small act of dissent could mean imprisonment or death at the hands of an infuriated Gestapo. Natalya risks everything alongside her friends, hoping the power of words will encourage others to resist. But even among those she trusts most, there is no guarantee of safety—and when danger strikes, she must take an extraordinary gamble in her own personal struggle to survive.


As I have read other books written by this author, I admit to keeping an eye for books by them. Though I have to say it was the book cover that initially caught my eye. I have seen two different covers for this title and do like both. Both covers could easily be taken from scenes within the book. After noticing the cover, I read the blurb and knew it was a book I had to read. I find the World War Two era fascinating and humbling and think it is a period in history that should never, ever be forgotten. The book is historical fiction, though it is based on real events. The byline of "In a time of war, the truth is complicated" really fits the book well.

This book is slightly different to others I have read set in this period of history as it is from the point of view of someone living in Germany. Someone who before Hitler came into power with his different ideas on genetics and the human race would have been considered a German. The more I read from this point of view the more interested in it I become.

The book tells of Natalya’s experience of Kristallnacht, which occurred on the night of 9th November, 1938 and translates into English as The Night of Broken Glass. Natalya and her friend go out on a shopping errand for Mary and see the remnants of a burnt synagogue and hear soldiers laughing and joking about the fact that the Rabbi had attempted to rescue the Tora scrolls and other items from the burning building. This is also the first time that Natalya’s life crosses paths with that of a man who will become an important part of her life. He approaches Natalya and Lisa and explains what has happened, the building has been set on fire and that the Rabbi has been sent to Dachau. The girls move on passing the broken glass of a Jewish owned pharmacy where her father works. When Peter notices his daughter and her friend, he tells them the streets are not safe and that they should return home immediately.

The main character and just one of my favourite characters in this book is sixteen year old, Natalya Petrovich who lives with her parents, Mary and Peter. They have already fled Russia and now live in Germany. Natalya volunteers to work as a nursing volunteer at the Russian Front with the German Red Cross where the fighting is and soon see’s the human cost of Hitler’s war. It’s whilst caring for soldiers that she meets those that end up introducing her to the White Rose. It is Alex that brings her into his social circle and takes her to see a local woman called Sina, with her children Dimitra and Anna, where they drink, sing and talk of their distrust and displeasure with Hitler. Natalya witnesses Sina, Dimitri and Anna rounded up with other people and see’s what happens to them, a vision which plagues her even after she leaves the area and is back home with her family.

This book tells the tale of a very real group of German teenagers and how they reacted to the changing world around them. The way they form a society of like-minded people to resist what is happening around them and become widely known as the White Rose. The White Rose write and distribute letters around Germany using the train system to travel around the area and drop the leaflets at addresses and shops etc, where they hope it will give others courage to make some sort of stand or resist what is happening around them in any way be it in a small or larger way. These missions become riskier, with the members being followed and the invitation to new people to join the group. The main, former members of the group are brother and sister, Hans and Sophie.

Natalya becomes braver and more determined to join in any act of resistance she can. She takes part in the leaflet drops with her childhood best friend Lisa Kolbe and then later in the book joins Alex, Hans and others in spraying and writing graffiti on local buildings.

The book goes on to reveal how Natalya becomes acquainted with the other members of the White Rose, how she becomes an active member. How the White Rose members are captured, tortured and some killed. Others that the Nazi’s hope to manipulate into revealing more about the resistance movement are sent to German prisons. Herr Garrett Adler, the man she first met the morning after the night of glass turns out to be a Nazi party member and he tells Natalya he was instrumental in her not being sentenced to death, and that he keeps an eye on her parents. He tries to blackmail Natalya into revealing anything she knows about other rebels by threatening her parents and when she doesn’t reveal anything Natalya is sent on to a mental asylum where medical procedures and experiments are done on the patients by one of the Doctors. Initially things seem like they are going to improve for Natalya when she comes across a Doctor there that is also part of the resistance movement and helps her and another patient plan an escape. Unfortunately, someone learns about the Doctor being a resistance member and he and the other patient are arrested and taken away. When the other Doctor taking Natalya to be sterilised as her kind should not be allowed to breed! Natalya knows she has to escape as soon as possible or she may die in this asylum. It’s when she escapes that she meets Greta who helps her disguise herself, create a new person to be and ends up being the one that introduces Natalya to the man who she eventually comes to love. Then just when you think Natalya has gone through the worst life can throw at her and she has a chance at happiness with a man with similar values as hers Herr Garett Adler rears his head again making it known to Natalya that though she now goes by a different name, and has changed her looks that he knows who she really is and can take everything away from her whenever he wants.

Then just when you think Natalya has gone through the worst life can throw at her and she has a chance at happiness with a man with similar values as hers Herr Garett Adler rears his head again making it known to Natalya that though she now goes by a different name, and has changed her looks that he knows who she really is and can take everything away from her whenever he wants.

It seems odd and wrong to have “favourite” character when the people depicted in this book are not totally fictional. Instead I will share with you the characters who represented real people whom I admired. Firstly, I admired both Natalya and Lisa “normal” everyday girls from normal families taking trips with highly dangerous reading material hidden in their luggage and clothes.
Though Greta seemed to lack emotions at time when she was dealing with Natalya you understand that she has to. If she became overly attached to those she is helping and knew their stories and she could inadvertently reveal something endangering themselves and others. Greta treats the risks she is taking in a very business like way. Even telling Natalya she will have to move on quickly if someone more important comes along and needs her help.

I went through a whole range of emotions whilst reading this book. I think it was made all the more poignant by the fact it is actually based on actual real events. It shows how, many people taking part in small acts of resistance and defiance can actually come together and eventually make a difference. Some of these characters do represent real people such as the founders of the White Rose, Sophie and Hans. Obviously, there were others in their organisation and the author has used fabricated names. This era of history is a very important one, and should never be forgotten. Many died because of one man and his new ideas of what he thought the future should look like. He sent millions to their death either in gas chambers, or worked to death. There were survivors who are now sadly dying of old age or complications due to what they suffered during this time. People rarely had any sort of happy ending, they lost family and friends. Even after liberation they had to rebuild their lives, search for family and friends and start to rebuild their own lives and what was left of their country all as well as coming to terms with what had happened.

At the very end of the book the author lists other books about Sophie, Hans and the White Rose as well as listing a film that was made about Sophie.

My immediate thoughts upon finishing this book were that the book was an amazing fictional take on a real organisation the White Rose who existed in Nazi Germany.

To sum up this book gives a different point view of World War 2, in that it concentrates on Germans and how they were treated by the Nazi party in their own country. This book deals with another facet of an awful era in history that should never, ever be forgotten.

My Ramblings
More and more I find myself re-reading my finished and submitted reviews and thinking I should have delved deeper into the plot, Oh I missed pointing this or that out, Or I wish I had said a bit more about something but then its always difficult to review without revealing too much of the book. So I don't know if I will be adding this to all my reviews or just a few, or even if its just this one, but I found writing the review for The Traitor difficult I so wanted to say I loved the book and adored the characters, but how can I "love" something about such a horrific era in history? I would say that its the fantastic writing and obvious extensive research put into the books that has me enjoying the books so much. When you read this authors books the descriptions are so amazing, you get a vivid picture in your imagination/minds eye and you end up feeling you are standing just off scene in a film and you are watching events unfold. I think that is also why I become so invested in reading the books, and I hate putting them down. I am so attached to the characters such as those in the White Rose and will them to succeed and then when caught I desperately want them to remain strong, not be broken and survive whatever is, in some cases quite literally thrown at them. As much as I adored some of the characters in this book, others I almost hate, they confuse me and make me want to learn more to understand them and their actions. Then there's the fate of Herr Adler, I wasn't sure whether to be pleased or upset that in reality there were no real "winners" in this period of history. Did he deserve what happened to him by the end of the book or was he a victim of circumstances and Hitlers regime too? I could seriously go on and on about some of the books I read, wel, quite a lot of the books I read!

I hope this review and my ramblings encourage you to read this book and others by V.S. Alexander. If you want a thought provoking read then you need to read this authors books!

As I said in my review I have seen a couple of different cover editions for this book. I have pictured them both below for you to take a look at. 
The cover above shows the the figure of a female in a a thick coat and scarf holding a white rose, which could represent a scene from within the book. The female on the cover would be Natalya Petrovich. The byline featured it a more whimsical and imaginative one says "In a time of war the truth is complicated" and it really does fit the book well. This cover is the Kensington Books version of the book which is released 25th February 2020. I have to be totally honest, as it says in my review of the book, it was this cover that initially caught my eye and drew my attention to this book.

The cover above features a smartly dressed woman on a train, which also fits as a scene from the book and could be either Lisa Kolbe or Natalya Petrovich. The byline on this book is "Not all Germans were Nazis" and I think this one is a more straight forward pointer to the fact the book shows the point of view and lives of "ordinary" German citizens. This cover is the Harpercollins UK, One More Chapter books version that is released on 27th February 2020.

My Cover Compare Decision
I think both the covers could be scenes taken from within the book. Both covers have different bylines, which work well and give inkling, or I guess you could call it a teaser or clue to what is to come in the book. I would say both books most likely feature the main character of Natalya Petrovich featured on them. Though I love both covers, as they both suit the book and characters within so well I would have to choose the one featured in my review at the top of this post.

So which cover do you prefer?

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