Inspired by the true story of a daring deception that plunges a courageous young woman deep into the horrors of a Nazi PoW camp to be with the man she loves.
In the dead of night, a Czech farm girl and a British soldier travel through the countryside. Izabela and prisoner-of-war Bill have secretly married, and are on the run, with Izzy dressed as a man. The young husband and wife evade capture for as long as possible, until they are cornered by Nazi soldiers with tracker dogs.
Izzy’s disguise works. The couple are assumed to be two escaped British soldiers and transported to a PoW camp. However, their true test has just begun as they face terrible living conditions and the constant terror of Izzy’s exposure. But in the midst of unimaginable horrors comes hope, for the young couple are befriended by a small group of fellow prisoners. These men become their new family, willing to risk their lives to save Izzy from being discovered and shot.
The Prisoner’s Wife tells of an incredible risk, and how our deepest bonds are tested in desperate times. Bill and Izzy’s is a story of love and survival, against the darkest odds.
I thought that this book was really well done. I enjoy historical fiction every once in a while and stories set during World War II really appeal to me. I am always on the lookout for something a little different and the premise of this story grabbed me right away. I love the fact that this book is based on a true story and was eager to see how a woman was able to hide within a PoW camp. Once I picked up this book, I was hooked right away and didn’t want to put the book down. I am so glad that I decided to give this book a try.
At the start of this story, Izzy is a farm girl in Czechoslovakia and Bill is a prisoner at a work camp that has been assigned to assist at her family farm. They are drawn to each other from the very beginning and fall in love in moments when they are able to steal a bit of time together away from everyone else. They marry and escape only to be captured a short time later. This is when things start getting very dangerous for both Izzy and Bill.
I felt for Izzy and Bill from the start. They both just wanted to be together but a war that they could not control had the potential to take everything from them. I tried to imagine what it must have been like for Izzy to live in fear of being discovered and how difficult it must have been to hide her gender in the living conditions within the camp. Bill was in constant fear for Izzy and was willing to do whatever it took to protect her.
This was a really powerful story. The descriptions in this book were very well done and I was able to form a mental image of what the conditions in the camp were Bill, Izzy, and the others that were in on their secret. Everything from their constant state of hunger to the physical pain was vividly described. I felt like I was there with them as they fought to take another step and leaned on each other for support.
I would recommend this book to fans of historical fiction. I thought that this was a very well done and powerful story. I will admit that I would have loved to see a little bit about what happened to each of the characters after the story ended but I realize that most of the people being released from these camps would never know the fate of those they had come in contact with during their incarceration. I would not hesitate to read more of this author’s work in the future.
I received an advanced review copy of this book from Penguin Publishing Group – Berkley.
About the Author
Maggie Brookes is a British ex-journalist and BBC television producer turned poet and novelist. She is an advisory fellow for the Royal Literary Fund and also an Associate Professor at Middlesex University, London, England, where she has taught creative writing since 1990. She lives in London and Whitstable, Kent and is married, with two grown-up daughters. She has published five poetry collections in the UK under her married name of Maggie Butt.