[566]: The Kommandant’s Girl by Pam Jenoff

18910917 The Kommandant’s Girl by Pam Jenoff
MIRA | Kindle Edition
September 1st, 2011
Historical Fiction | Romance
Rating: 2 out of 5 Stars

Nineteen-year-old Emma Bau has been married only three weeks when Nazi tanks thunder into her native Poland. Within days Emma’s husband, Jacob, is forced to disappear underground, leaving her imprisoned within the city’s decrepit, moldering Jewish ghetto. But then, in the dead of night, the resistance smuggles her out. Taken to Krakow to live with Jacob’s Catholic aunt, Krysia, Emma takes on a new identity as Anna Lipowski, a gentile.

Emma’s already precarious situation is complicated by her introduction to Kommandant Richwalder, a high-ranking Nazi official who hires her to work as his assistant. Urged by the resistance to use her position to access details of the Nazi occupation, Emma must compromise her safety—and her marriage vows—in order to help Jacob’s cause. As the atrocities of war intensify, so does Emma’s relationship with the Kommandant, building to a climax that will risk not only her double life, but also the lives of those she loves.

This is my first Pam Jenoff book. I know very little about the kind of books she puts out other than they’re usually historical romance. I have been attracted to stories where the romance is inherently founded on hate. And there could never be a more contemptuous romance than that of a Jewish girl and a German officer.

Emma Bau has only been married to her husband Jacob for merely six weeks before the Germans invaded Poland. Forced to flee, Jacob severed ties with Emma for her safety. She found herself imprisoned in a commune with her people. There, she saw just the kind of life that was in store for them; where disease and hunger slowly killed them one by one. In the dead of night, she was taken by a member of the resistance to live with Jacob’s aunt. An upstanding Polish citizen who was clandestinely helping Jacob’s cause. Through one of her dinner parties, Emma meets the enigmatic Kommandant Richwalder.  The obvious attraction helped convinced the resistance to recruit Emma to their cause. By working with the kommandant,  she could monitor confidential messages that passed through the kommandant’s desk. As the monstrosity of Hitler intensified, so did the growing relationship between Emma and Richwalder. And she would do anything to help the cause, if only to save those that she loves.

The problem that I have with this book is rooted to the fact that Emma didn’t seem to have given much thought as to who Richwalder was. The instant attraction that she felt didn’t really make that much sense to me. There was no ingrained hatred, mostly passing thoughts where she had to remind herself how many Jewish people where dying in the hands of the Germans such as the kommandant. Other than that, it was instant lust all around.

In Emma’s defence, the kommandant seemed to be cut from a different cloth than those of the other officers. We see flashes of guilt, and distaste for what was going on in his watch. Perhaps that was why it was easy for her to fall into bed with him.

Unfortunately, there wasn’t anything gripping about this book. I did not hold my breath in suspense. She was tasked to retrieve documents that was pertinent to the cause, but the reader never did find out of the consequence of her missions. The most frightening thing that happened here was when she witnessed the pregnant wife of a Rabbi get shot. That was hard to take, but since it happened in the beginning of the novel, the reader had plenty of time to recover. Not that I looked forward to reading the atrocities of the war. I just felt like it was not a good representation of what really happened.

Still, this does not diminish my interest with her books. In fact, I picked up a couple of more in the same vein. I’m looking forward to reading them only to get a better grasp on her story telling. I really hope I’ll like them more than I did with this one.





  • I have problems reading anything to do with the German-Jewish atrocities-as in I won’t if I can help it. However, a few months ago I read and reviewed The Nightingale by Kristen Hannah on Pure Textuality. It was about this same time period and I found it to be excellent. I can’t recommend it enough. Thanks!

  • Aw, sad face. I’m so sorry that you had issues with this book Joy : looks pretty bad, lol. But glad you didn’t fully hate it, hah 😀 Thank you for sharing your thoughts. <3

  • Sorry the book was lacking. :/ Emma doesn’t seem like the type of a heroine I prefer reading about either.

  • Aw sorry to hear that it didn’t have the hold your breath in suspense factor, hope you like some of hers better when you try another

  • Jordan

    I’ve never heard of this author. I am not a fan of historical fiction but every once in awhile I am drawn to stories set during times of war. Lovely review.

    -Jordan @ Jordan’s Jewels

  • Sara Walker

    I haven’t heard of this author before. While I like historical romance, I am not particularly drawn to those set during war time. War stresses me out, and I don’t like tragedy. I think I’m going to skip out on this one.

    • Yeah, they’re tough reads. I’m drawn to them for some reason.

  • Sorry this wasn’t a “wow” book!

  • Hmm I think I’ll skip this one lol
    Thank you for the review 🙂

    • Might be a good idea if you’re not into these type of stories. 🙂

  • kindlemom1

    So sorry this wasn’t really able to hold your attention and fell flat. Hate it when that happens. 🙁 Lovely honest review!!

    • Thank you, Ali. I’m hoping the rest of her books will be better.

  • I do love historical romances (I am even reading this one right now) but it sounds like this one isn’t quite what it promises to be and deviates from the hate storyline and is more simply just a romance… even despite their stark differences. I don’t think I will pick this one up, but I hope the authors other books you have are better!

    • Thanks, love. I typically enjoy reading these type of historical romance, but yeah. This one didn’t live up to my expectations, sadly.

  • Oh boy, this does not bode well for the ARC that I have sitting on my shelf from Pam Jennof. I’m not sure I could deal with a MC who has instant lust for a Nazi. I have a feeling not many people could see past the details of this one, either.

    • You never know. You might like it better than I did, Sarah. But yeah, that instant attraction just didn’t sit well with me.

  • I love historical romance, but I can never read anything with the Nazi, especially not a romance. It doesn’t sound like I’d be missing out on this one anyways if I skipped it. It’s a shame that the full potential of the novel wasn’t explored.
    Sorry this wasn’t the best book, Joy!

    • Thanks, Nick. I’m still hoping the other two books of hers that I have sitting on my shelves will be better than this one.

  • RO

    Hey There Joyous Joy and hope all is well! I enjoy reading novels where I’m told stories of the past, but as you mentioned, they have to make some sense so I can connect with the characters. As always, awesome review! Hugs…Ro

  • Ugh, what a shame that Emma fell for the insta-love trope. I do enjoy historical fiction, and more and more so ones that are set in WWII, but I think I’ll pass on this one.

    • You must check out The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes. It’s a fantastic blend of historical and contemporary.

  • Sorry you didn’t enjoy the book. It had quite a bit of controversy surrounding it as well, due to the touchy premise, so I think I’ll stay well away.

  • Hmmm a shame about the instant lust in this one, and how it sort of skimmed on the detail. Lovely review Joy, the book reminds me of The Bronze Horseman in a way.

    • This is not even in the same horizon as The Bronze Horseman (writing-wise), but yeah sort of have the same forbidden romance thing.

  • Maja (The Nocturnal Library)

    Why put characters on two such painfully opposing sides and not use it to its full potential? I have a hard time believing that a girl like Emma would jump into a relationship with a German soldier without consideration. So strange. It could have been amazing, but as it is, I doubt I’ll read it.

    • Right?! that is exactly what I said. Sigh.

  • This one actually sounded the most thrilling, too bad

    • I’ll be curious to see what you think of it, B.

  • I haven’t read any of her books, so let me know when you find one that knocks your socks off.

  • Melliane

    I love to read books about war but I’m not sure about this one I confess. I think I would have the same problems.