The Ragged Edge of Night
For fans of All the Light We Cannot See, Beneath a Scarlet Sky, and The Nightingale comes an emotionally gripping, beautifully written historical novel about extraordinary hope, redemption, and one man’s search for light during the darkest times of World War II.Germany, 1942. Franciscan friar Anton Starzmann is stripped of his place in the world when his school is seized by the Nazis. He relocates to a small German hamlet to wed Elisabeth Herter, a widow who seeks a marriage—in name only—to a man who can help raise her three children. Anton seeks something too—atonement for failing to protect his young students from the wrath of the Nazis. But neither he nor Elisabeth expects their lives to be shaken once again by the inescapable rumble of war. As Anton struggles to adapt to the roles of husband and father, he learns of the Red Orchestra, an underground network of resisters plotting to assassinate Hitler. Despite Elisabeth’s reservations, Anton joins this army of shadows. But when the SS discovers his schemes, Anton will embark on a final act of defiance that may cost him his life—even if it means saying goodbye to the family he has come to love more than he ever believed possible.

The Ragged Edge of Night Details

TitleThe Ragged Edge of Night
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseOct 1st, 2018
PublisherLake Union Publishing
Rating
GenreHistorical, Historical Fiction, Fiction, War, World War II

The Ragged Edge of Night Review

  • The Just-About-Cocky Ms M
    January 1, 1970
    I rarely read book blurbs, even more rarely do I believe them, and never make a decision to read a book based upon its fulsome—and usually wildly ineffective and misleading—blurb.Case in point here: this novel is for “fans of All the Light We Cannot See, Beneath a Scarlet Sky, and The Nightingale.” I thought All the Light We Cannot See was adequate, but certainly not worth a Pulitzer or the gushing reviews that followed like lemmings. As for The Nightingale, I found it overwrought, rife with cli I rarely read book blurbs, even more rarely do I believe them, and never make a decision to read a book based upon its fulsome—and usually wildly ineffective and misleading—blurb.Case in point here: this novel is for “fans of All the Light We Cannot See, Beneath a Scarlet Sky, and The Nightingale.” I thought All the Light We Cannot See was adequate, but certainly not worth a Pulitzer or the gushing reviews that followed like lemmings. As for The Nightingale, I found it overwrought, rife with clichés—the overused and stupid trope of a French/Dutch/Norwegian/whatever woman falling for a Nazi soldier—and oh-so-blah. Beneath a Scarlet Sky was the worst of them all for more reasons than I want to convey here. Go read my review if you want to know more. What these three books had in common was that they all kept WWII at arms’ length; none of them drew the reader into what the horrors of war were really like opting instead for romance, improbable derring-do, and nothing of substance.So I should have passed this novel up, afraid of another third-rate WWII tale, afraid of another disappointment from First Reads. But no. Like the main character, Anton Starzmann, I took a leap of faith in an uncertain literary world.Folks, this book is magic. I began reading at 5:15 this morning, and finished about thirty minutes ago, Other than the obligatory coffee and bathroom breaks, I have done nothing but read, and marvel. My Inner Critic took a well-deserved nap, with nothing to carp about.First, I found the writing to be elegant and descriptive when required, then spare and taut to augment tension. The dialogue is pitch-perfect, with carefully-crafted voices for the diverse characters, especially the children, which is where many an author fails dismally. Hawker intersperses a fair amount of German throughout, some translated, some not, but her preface explains most if not all the terms used. The judicious—and proper!—use of a foreign language in this novel works, unlike some authors who subscribe to the “Please, Monsieur, not zee bullet!” or worse, “Le tempête, it ess approaching” school of writing.Second, each character, whether the prominent ones of Anton Starzmann, Elisabeth Herter, and Father Emil, or the secondary ones to include the three Herter children, a few villagers of the nastier type, and other bit players are fully developed, distinct, and, best of all, unique. All right, the village gauleiter was rather recognizable as the usual small-time Nazi thug, but nevertheless well-drawn.Third, I haven’t encountered a character as complex, as haunted, as aware of his failings and weaknesses, and as conflicted over the good as he knew it as a Franciscan friar and the bad of Nazi Germany. Not one to see things in black and white, Anton struggles with grey, as he roundly condemns the Nazi program known as T4 and plans ways to resist it and other atrocities, and at the same time feels a moment of compassion for Wehrmacht soldiers who may have been forced to serve because of threats against their families. This is the real deal, an Everyman in times of crisis, forced to decide what he will do, and what he can do in the face of true evil. Not a cliché to be found here.Fourth, the sense, the feeling, of place is beautifully drawn without overwhelming the reader with detail. This small, insignificant German village some 30 kilometers from Stuttgart cannot be mistaken for a small village 30 kilometers from Paris, for example. It’s also a village in wartime, winter and summer, with the weight of daily uncertainties, hunger, fear, and poverty. The war is also very present: planes fly over on their way to bomb cities, but the village just might catch a few bombs dropped in error at night; the always unannounced arrival of the SS; the Wehrmacht popping up—literally—from the ground; and wore, who can be trusted among the fellow villagers, and who would turn you is for saying the wrong words, looking suspicious, or having a bit more to eat than your neighbor? The war is definitely here, and it is most assuredly not romanticized or sanitized. Elisabeth does not overcome her hatred of Nazis and sleep with an officer because he might be one of the good guys. Anton does not perform feats of valor and bravery, meeting every important person in Germany while doing so. And the three Herter children do not go blindly through the war marginally worried or inconvenienced. No, their days are days of terror, laced with random bits of love and kindness to alleviate the horrors visited even on children.Absolutely, unequivocally, and without a single reservation, I recommend this book. It makes so many others set during WWII seem like dreck. Oh, and pay particular attention to the author's notes at the end.This really is the new gold standard for WWII historical fiction.My copy is courtesy of First Reads.
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  • Ronnie Hamblin
    January 1, 1970
    The Ragged Edge of Night : The first 90% of the book was excellent and told of heroic people and families. I would definitely give it a 4. The "Historical Notes and authors remarks" at the end of the book was very interesting and brought out a lot of history of the family and town. Until she says "When the 2016 election changed things I knew I had to write this book. She compared the Republican Party to the Nazis! I had voted Democrat for 35 years then realized recently that it was going downhil The Ragged Edge of Night : The first 90% of the book was excellent and told of heroic people and families. I would definitely give it a 4. The "Historical Notes and authors remarks" at the end of the book was very interesting and brought out a lot of history of the family and town. Until she says "When the 2016 election changed things I knew I had to write this book. She compared the Republican Party to the Nazis! I had voted Democrat for 35 years then realized recently that it was going downhill and no longer relevant to me. Apparently others agreed; thank goodness. I know there are bad apples in every bunch, but she implied that all Republicans were bad. I guess she was trying to push her own political agenda or sell more books. To hear the media, you would think we were all going to hell in a hand basket. But you see our country is thriving. I was just minding my own business, listening to this book on my way to my meditation and relaxation group. Needless to say I wasn't able to focus after hearing the negative thoughts running through my mind. We are all Americans, so let’s try to work together.
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  • Renee
    January 1, 1970
    Beautiful language. Vibrant characters. Evocative sense of time and place. Highly recommend. Loved this story of a friar, who—though the Nazis stripped him of his office—continued to live out his calling to love and make a difference in humble ways. This is a literary novel, told in one point of view with present tense verbs. Not everyone’s cup of tea, but I felt this made this novel read like a lovely, almost poetic homily about life. Much of the story takes place in Anton’s head and heart, wit Beautiful language. Vibrant characters. Evocative sense of time and place. Highly recommend. Loved this story of a friar, who—though the Nazis stripped him of his office—continued to live out his calling to love and make a difference in humble ways. This is a literary novel, told in one point of view with present tense verbs. Not everyone’s cup of tea, but I felt this made this novel read like a lovely, almost poetic homily about life. Much of the story takes place in Anton’s head and heart, with his remembrances and impressions of life around him. Again, some might find this slow. However, I loved this character & his take on the world. He drew me in from the first paragraph & I could not stop reading! I finished this book in a matter of hours! Personally, this powerful story made me thankful to minister in a Christian school where we celebrate all life, including the most vulnerable among us, those with special needs, the unborn, the unappreciated. The characters were fleshed out & flawed—admitting they did not reach out to the Jews because they put their own children first—but redeemed their past weaknesses by finding the courage to act in loving, generous ways to those around them in spite of the personal cost. I truly appreciated this author’s beautiful way with words. Here are a few of my favorite quotes:“God opens every way for an earnest heart.”“I cannot help but know it. Against all sense, I believe. Somewhere, beyond the ragged edge of night, light bleeds into this world.”“This is a small happiness, in a mad and dangerous world. But it’s better than gold, better than music, to know you made another person happy. To know you’ve kept them safe.”“Grant me one more day of love, God, and one more, and another. One more blue afternoon with my children’s voices filling the sky—this, my only music. One more sight of their breath rising in plumes against the cold, so I may know they’re still breathing. Give me time enough to fix these memories in my heart. Let me write this love upon my soul.”“Some of these boys—they understand very little, except for love. But love is all they need.”
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  • Michael Charles Yett
    January 1, 1970
    This was one of the greatest stories I have ever read and truly deserves five stars for the content of the story. The one star comes from the highly disappointing historical notes left by the author. She claims the event of the election of 2016 in America caused her to be moved to write this book. I can tell you as I read this book I saw similarities not to the victor of 2016 but to the loser. The author claims to be an historian and writes historical books. May I present some history, Hitler an This was one of the greatest stories I have ever read and truly deserves five stars for the content of the story. The one star comes from the highly disappointing historical notes left by the author. She claims the event of the election of 2016 in America caused her to be moved to write this book. I can tell you as I read this book I saw similarities not to the victor of 2016 but to the loser. The author claims to be an historian and writes historical books. May I present some history, Hitler and the SS took weapons away from the German citizenry, and after doing such they started to take control. The content of the story mentions this fact, but the author has failed to realize that the losing party and candidate of 2016 wanted and wants to do the same thing to the American people, not the current victor of 2016. Secondly, Hitler and the SS in order to rule took away many forms of print news and material that could report the truth of the evil of Hitler. The losing party and candidate of 2016 has already chosen to take and repeal 1st Amendment rights by seeking to only give one viewpoint of ideology, not the current victor of 2016, who calls out the bias in the print and news media. This point was represented well by story written by the author but she fails to see the same direction being taken in America and not with the current administration. Then to mention events that occurred in Charlottesville, VA was the last straw. The fact is we live in a nation that allows free speech and protest. In order to exercise some of these rights we have to apply for permits when in large groups. One group had applied and been denied, courts determined that their civil rights were being violated and had to allow them to protest peacefully. Another group came along and did not have permits and were allowed to precipitate friction which in turn caused the needless taking the life of one individual. The author fails to mention many violations of civility in our country by folks who call themselves antifa, which is just the opposite of what they are, they are the fascists that would be like the Nazi's and SS of the days of Germany written about in this book.I think the author should seek to really learn how to apply history and also be able to apply real current events appropriately. I really wish I had not seen the ignorance in that one bit of this book, having lived in Germany and travelled in the Stuttgart area and seeing left over elements of that time in history, I felt the beauty of the German people and how they overcame a despotic being from taking all their freedoms away. We have freedoms today because the people in America made the right choice in 2016, and if the other party continues in it's non liberal ways, the right choice will be around for years to come.
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  • Marquise
    January 1, 1970
    A wonderful, wonderful novel about the struggles of an ex-friar in Nazi Germany, when he has to balance the needs of his family with the demands of his conscience to resist the regime amidst the ever-present fear of being seized by the secret police for his subversive activities. It's based on the life story of the author's grandfather-in-law, believable and historically correct, and told in a lovely prose though I bet not everyone will like the present tense narration (I'm no fan myself, but it A wonderful, wonderful novel about the struggles of an ex-friar in Nazi Germany, when he has to balance the needs of his family with the demands of his conscience to resist the regime amidst the ever-present fear of being seized by the secret police for his subversive activities. It's based on the life story of the author's grandfather-in-law, believable and historically correct, and told in a lovely prose though I bet not everyone will like the present tense narration (I'm no fan myself, but it didn't bother me). The start is slow, for which persistence is recommended, as it becomes quite absorbing soon enough and turns into a very satisfying read. What I appreciated the most was the "everyday citizen doing everyday yet not quite 'everyday' stuff" feel of the plot. There's no wartime swashbuckling, no shoehorned Big Names, no frontline battle, etc. It's just about a German like any other German from the time, but one that's determined to do his utmost to "get Hitler's goat" (as the author put it in her Note), showing that you didn't need big gestures, huge and daring assassination plots & rescues, Jew hiding, and so on, to oppose the Nazi party. You could still resist in the quietness of your sleepy little town, doing whatever was necessary for the right choice to prevail over whatever the Party's ideology dictated. That's not something I've found much in WWII fiction, as anything to do with resisting Hitler seems to be always either about the opposite side, French/Dutch/whatever, or about the Big Name resistors like the Stauffenberg clique and the like, when they're homegrown subversives.
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  • Lisa Rodgers
    January 1, 1970
    Nice Story, Horrible Politics.The author manages to ruin a very nice story with a horrible political screed in post-story commentary. Thus, I cannot recommend this book.
  • Janet E. Rash
    January 1, 1970
    RaggedI loved this book and recommend it to readers who currently want to resist the ominous events presently occurring in our country.
  • Cindy Woods
    January 1, 1970
    Eh...metaphorically speaking!This is a book I could not get into. Try as I might, the overuse of metaphors made the story stagnate. The adjectives are overflowing! Too much ruins a story....and this is a good example of 'too much.'The plot surrounding an ex-friar who responds to an advertisement in a Catholic newspaper in Germany during WWII is far-fetched and over-religious. I felt I was being sermonized to! That feeling never let up as I read on. I felt like I was forcing myself to understand Eh...metaphorically speaking!This is a book I could not get into. Try as I might, the overuse of metaphors made the story stagnate. The adjectives are overflowing! Too much ruins a story....and this is a good example of 'too much.'The plot surrounding an ex-friar who responds to an advertisement in a Catholic newspaper in Germany during WWII is far-fetched and over-religious. I felt I was being sermonized to! That feeling never let up as I read on. I felt like I was forcing myself to understand much of the time as Anton flashes back to his friar days in a boy's school and forced by the SS into the German army. I admit I am not a Catholic, not a religious person, but this book is definitely not for non-Catholics. Every few pages Anton is thinking in his own mind and his own conscience as he relates everything back to God and his own Catholic perceptions.I would say this book is a great one for Catholics except for the flooding of metaphors. This truly hampered the book.INot one I would personally recommend unfortunately.
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  • R.
    January 1, 1970
    I enjoyed this story of a mans' bravery against the Nazi's. However, when I read the authors commentary of why she thinks this applies to what is happening currently in the USA, I was extremely disappointed by her biased political tone. If she wants to speak publicly fine, but please leave it out of your book. We live in a democracy with checks and balances. Won't read another book from this author.
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  • Debra
    January 1, 1970
    If the author hadn't gotten on her political anti-Trump soap box at the end, I would have given this a 4.5 star review.
  • Joy D
    January 1, 1970
    Historical fiction about a former friar, a widow, and her family living in a small rural German town during WWII. Protagonist Anton Starzmann had been a teacher in a Franciscan order before it was disbanded by Hitler’s regime. He suffers enormous guilt for not having done more to protect his students from being taken by the Nazis. After a brief stint in the Wehrmacht Anton decides to answer a widow’s advertisement seeking a husband to help her provide for her three children. This book offers an Historical fiction about a former friar, a widow, and her family living in a small rural German town during WWII. Protagonist Anton Starzmann had been a teacher in a Franciscan order before it was disbanded by Hitler’s regime. He suffers enormous guilt for not having done more to protect his students from being taken by the Nazis. After a brief stint in the Wehrmacht Anton decides to answer a widow’s advertisement seeking a husband to help her provide for her three children. This book offers an original premise for a WWII-related story. It shows what life was like in the country, where threats exist but bombs are at a distance. The war does not impact them physically as much as emotionally and psychologically. Many Germans in the town want to resist but need to find ways that do not endanger their families. This moral dilemma is central to the story. The author’s writing is lyrical. Many of Anton’s thoughts are, as would be expected from a former friar, filtered through a religious lens, and I found this particularly effective in setting a tone of spiritual reflection. The book is character-driven and focused on relationships, which are built slowly. Based on the lives of real people, it is a touching story of courage in the face of evil. It shows the importance of small acts of defiance, even if results are not immediate or obvious. It contains an element of hope in a damaged world. I found it both poignant and thought-provoking.
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  • Heidi
    January 1, 1970
    The plot of this book is basically Love Comes Softly meets The Sound of Music. An ex-friar marries a widow, and because I guess it's a romantic story or whatever, they take several years getting around to consummating the marriage, yadda yadda yadda, resist nazis via the majestic power of song.It's not terrible. Really. Let's be honest. Nazi resistance tales are pretty much de facto awesome. Plus, the author writes prettily and built her world well, and she's got a decent handle on distinctive ( The plot of this book is basically Love Comes Softly meets The Sound of Music. An ex-friar marries a widow, and because I guess it's a romantic story or whatever, they take several years getting around to consummating the marriage, yadda yadda yadda, resist nazis via the majestic power of song.It's not terrible. Really. Let's be honest. Nazi resistance tales are pretty much de facto awesome. Plus, the author writes prettily and built her world well, and she's got a decent handle on distinctive (and often delightful) German mannerisms. However, 3 things hobbled this effort:1) The relentless present tense narration was awkward and extremely distracting. Even more so when it switched to present tense first person plural. 2) There was a touch too much modern zeitgeist forced upon the story for it to ring quite true as historical fiction. 3) It was interesting to be reading The Ragged Edge of Night at the same time as Matthew R. Richard's Will the Real Jesus Please Stand Up? 12 False Christs. Olivia Hawker's worldview is different from the characters in her book, and the characters in her book have a different worldview than mine. This made things fascinating and challenging in ways I do not believe were intended. The author makes a respectable and sympathetic effort in tackling the issues of guilt, repentance, redemption, and the problem of evil in the world. And I love that she clearly loves and respects religious people. However, the vast majority of the insights espoused by Herr Starzmann and company, when carried to their logical ends, will only lead a person into pride, despair, or doubt. Christ have mercy, there is no true peace for the poor souls who see the world the same way these characters do. This narrative was oftentimes bleakness itself, dressed up in soaring language. Love was largely stripped of its mystery and power and relegated to the role of fluffy human interest side-show. The power vacuum was filled in turns by guilt, fear, and pride - emotions that often went by the name of love but were not. Nobody did anything in this story unless he or she felt guilty, afraid, or pride in being a good human/Christian/German. This is not the best way to live, and it's no way to win a war against an entire world, an entire human species, gone wrong. On the other hand, there were several beautiful and extremely moving passages in which the author acknowledges that while she is definitely in the dark, and the darkness is deep, she believes that the light is there, and she is waiting for it to break through, for the Morning Star to rise. We've all been there, sister. For such a time as this, the Gospel of John is a compelling and a beautiful read.
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  • Gloria
    January 1, 1970
    She had me up until the end, when she politicized the story. I don't need to be reminded of Trump while I try to lose myself in a good story. I get politics daily in the news/internet/papers - in other words, in real life. I don't need it in books. Disappointed and disillusioned - ergo, one star.
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  • Barbarawombatgmail.com
    January 1, 1970
    The author's notes killed this book for meThis book would have been a 5 if I had not read the author's notes. Loved the story but disagree with her politics in her notes and am confused by why she was compelled to limit her book with them. To me a historical novel should be relevant for more than a 4 year political cycle. I cannot recommend this book.
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  • Lavenderrose
    January 1, 1970
    I chose this book as my First Read on September 1st, and was surprised to see that there were already several five star reviews on Amazon that morning – I can only conclude that these readers had advance copies and were thus in some way connected to the author or publisher. One of them declared that this book should be the Gold Standard for WW2 literature.Sorry, but it’s not. As a book set in Germany it can compare only weakly with The Tin Drum by Guenter Grass. No American can write a book abou I chose this book as my First Read on September 1st, and was surprised to see that there were already several five star reviews on Amazon that morning – I can only conclude that these readers had advance copies and were thus in some way connected to the author or publisher. One of them declared that this book should be the Gold Standard for WW2 literature.Sorry, but it’s not. As a book set in Germany it can compare only weakly with The Tin Drum by Guenter Grass. No American can write a book about Germany as well as a German – take note! This goes for The Book Thief as well, whose author I believe is Australian. In fact I’m not sure if an American can ever really understand the very European issues at stake. For me one of the most chilling reminders of what nearly happened is a Youtube video showing the entire timeline of WW2, day for day ("Every Day"). And much as I loathe Donald Trump, the author’s note at the back only goes to show how very America-centric Americans tend to be. There is no comparison as to the danger then and now. Just ask a Canadian or Mexican today, and a Frenchman of 1940 or for that matter 1935 – how terrified are todays Canadians and Mexicans of an invasion? See? (Remember: France actually BUILT a "wall" -- the Maginot Line.)Anyway: it’s a well written book about one man’s struggle as he deals with his own guilt, as he tries to be a good husband and father to his new family. A very introspective novel; it’s more about his internal journey than about the actual atrocities of WW2 – a contemplative book about internal conflicts. The only time my heart was in my mouth was when the little girl was running along the wall and fell into the sewage! Surely a WW2 novel has to make the reader tremble with trepidition? This didn’t happen. The bombs falling on Stuttgart didn’t scare me.The author does try to create a subplot in which Anton works as a sort of spy but this is not well pulled off. Messages pass from village to village in the German province – far away from the hub of power and Hitler’s inner circle – and we are supposed to believe that this message-passing is vital to a plot to assassinate Hitler? No details are given. We don’t know what those messages are about or why they are so vital to the Hitler-assassination plot; we have to simply believe it because the author says so. If this spy-work was so vital we need to know why, and why he would be informed of the final details of this plot (that it would be poison), why he, Anton, was so important. In reality Anton was a "just" a little man and would not have been able to do or know much in his position. In my opinion the „spy“ story was irrelevant; the story about the hidden bells was perhaps not so spectacular, but it was in keeping with his humble, low-key demeanor and quite moving. The author writes well about music and would have convinced me more had she kept this novel as a small personal story about a married ex-friar who saved a village’s bells. I understand her and the family’s excitement about Anton – yes, he was brave and a family icon, but he did not bring down the Nazis, as bombastically declared in the Editor’s notes on Amazon.
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  • RoseMary Achey
    January 1, 1970
    This is a tough book to rate. I thought the constant references to religion a bit too much. The story dragged on for the first 75% percent of the book...but then picked up the pace in the last 25%. The author notes at the end of the book where surprising to say the least. How did her editor allow this diatribe to be included in the novel? There are millions of books written about Nazi Germany, however this is one that I would not recommend.
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  • Kylie H
    January 1, 1970
    This is a perspective on the plight of Germans who did not support Hitler during WW2 and the hardship and fear that they had to live with. Anton is a former priest whose order has been disbanded and untethered finds himself responding to a newspaper advertisement to marry a widow with three young children. What happens next changes the life of Anton and those around him significantly. He discovers a resistance movement that supports everything he believes in, but will his support of this group c This is a perspective on the plight of Germans who did not support Hitler during WW2 and the hardship and fear that they had to live with. Anton is a former priest whose order has been disbanded and untethered finds himself responding to a newspaper advertisement to marry a widow with three young children. What happens next changes the life of Anton and those around him significantly. He discovers a resistance movement that supports everything he believes in, but will his support of this group cost him more than he can imagine?In the same genre of The Book Thief and All the Light We Cannot See, it is a great story but not quite in the same league in my personal opinion.
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  • Sandybfl
    January 1, 1970
    Great book!This was a great story. It was very well written and very engaging. I literally cried tears of joy at the end. And then to be reminded it is based on a true story made it that much better. Highly recommend this one, would give it more than 5 stars if I could.
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  • Deborah
    January 1, 1970
    Character-driven Excellence This is one of the best books I've read. Hawker's characters are believable, alive. The real people and their struggles, both physical and spiritual, transcend the setting in WWII Germany. When I read this story, I resonated with the humanity of all the people trying to survive during war.
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  • Sue Holmes
    January 1, 1970
    Great storyline and but I found the lyrical writing style disruptive to the flow and there was an unwelcome preachy element that kept poking through.
  • Ann-Marie
    January 1, 1970
    This is a story of a plain man, a German living in the time of WWII Nazi Germany. He is a good man, a former friar, music teacher and soldier, who contracts to marry a widow whom he has never met, with three young children. They live in a very small town, off in the middle of nowhere, and the war doesn't touch them much. Until it does. Anton feels compelled to help the resistance by carrying messages, the family takes in refugees, and Anton starts up a children's band to divert interest from t This is a story of a plain man, a German living in the time of WWII Nazi Germany. He is a good man, a former friar, music teacher and soldier, who contracts to marry a widow whom he has never met, with three young children. They live in a very small town, off in the middle of nowhere, and the war doesn't touch them much. Until it does. Anton feels compelled to help the resistance by carrying messages, the family takes in refugees, and Anton starts up a children's band to divert interest from the idea of a Hitler's Youth Group. Of course these actions draw the attention of the wrong people. How Anton, his new family and the villagers deal with all this is told in a way that makes these characters seem real. The love that develops between Anton and Elizabeth is warm and natural. They carry on, despite the knowledge that Anton is already in the crosshairs of the Nazis, and it is only a matter of time before he is taken from him forever. Hawker's writing style is well suited to historical fiction. She captured the period and the people very nicely.
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  • Joann
    January 1, 1970
    "The Ragged Edge of Night" is based on the real life experience of one of the author's family members. Set in Nazi Germany, the plot centers around friar Anton Starzmann, who is stripped of his position during the fascist government’s purge of religious clerics. He seeks solace in a woman who wants help raising her three children, but their ensuing marriage is more partnership than romance. Still, as the world war edges ever closer to home, the heartfelt relationship finds him growing closer to "The Ragged Edge of Night" is based on the real life experience of one of the author's family members. Set in Nazi Germany, the plot centers around friar Anton Starzmann, who is stripped of his position during the fascist government’s purge of religious clerics. He seeks solace in a woman who wants help raising her three children, but their ensuing marriage is more partnership than romance. Still, as the world war edges ever closer to home, the heartfelt relationship finds him growing closer to the family than he ever thought possible. This was a lovely story and I would have enjoyed it much more had it not been for the parts that were italicized. Mr. Starzmann was just an ordinary person but made choices that helped his fellow human beings.
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  • Roland Clarke
    January 1, 1970
    Review 5 starsAlthough the pace was slower than many of my usual reads, the setting of a rural village in World War II Germany made for an underlying threat that drove the story forward. The pace matched the reality portrayed.The influence of Hitler and his Nazis seeped into the story, although the main protagonist Anton Starzmann was building a new life with Elisabeth Herter, a widow with three children in rural surroundings. His past as a Franciscan friar, whose pupils have been ‘relocated’ by Review 5 starsAlthough the pace was slower than many of my usual reads, the setting of a rural village in World War II Germany made for an underlying threat that drove the story forward. The pace matched the reality portrayed.The influence of Hitler and his Nazis seeped into the story, although the main protagonist Anton Starzmann was building a new life with Elisabeth Herter, a widow with three children in rural surroundings. His past as a Franciscan friar, whose pupils have been ‘relocated’ by the SS, haunts his gradual attempt to take a stand against the Nazi evil.Early on he hears a conversation that becomes fundamental:“Her companion is quick to answer, quick to defend. “It’s only this: I’ve never seen God. Why should I credit Him for a blessing, or leave Him any blame? Men are quite capable of destroying the world on their own, as we can plainly see. They don’t need any help from above.”Anton observes that he hasn’t met Hitler, but the Fuehrer’s evil exists – and he resists. The musical instruments of his condemned pupils become central to that stand, and not just in their re-use – far better than what the Nazis plan for them.“I’ve heard the Party are paying good money for brass. The Schutzstaffel want it for casings—ammunition.” I wondered if music could foil the savage beast and, in a way, it became a means to take a stand. I shared the fear that the resistance within Germany and the village of Unterboihingen, called the Red Orchestra would be exposed and killed.It didn’t matter that I knew the outcome of WWII as I didn’t know whether anything about that resistance. It’s a sad fact that it became easier for others to see all Germans as evil. Having had a German girlfriend, I know that isn’t true. And this book confirms that there was a lot of good alive, and people trying to survive.The characters from Anton to minor characters come alive as the story builds and I became invested in their lives.The village and its surroundings are beautifully described, and the language is so evocative of the hard but special life that Anton and his new family are living. The war rages and the nightly bombing of nearby Stuttgart threatens behind the village life that attempts to continue, using lessons and practises of the past. Barter replaces money – as it did in many countries.There are highlights to enrich the children’s lives like precious Easter eggs, chocolates and simple handmade gifts. The end and the impending terror draws closer when a ruthless act forces a final act of defiance.The story resonated so much with me that I was pleased to discover that it is based on real events. And that makes it relevant to today when Neo-Nazis are on the rise everywhere.But as the author says:“We are Widerstand—resistance—you and I. No force can silence us, unless we permit silence. I prefer to roar.”This book was an Amazon First Reads free with my Prime membership, and even if I’d paid the proper price The Ragged Edge of Night would be a recommended must read.Story – five starsSetting/World-building – five starsAuthenticity – five starsCharacters – five starsStructure – five starsReadability – five starsEditing – five starsReviewed originally at https://rolandclarke.com/2018/11/08/t...
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  • Mobeme53 Branson
    January 1, 1970
    I really wavered between giving this book five starts and the four I settled on. The story is more than compelling; that it is based on a true story was not revealed to me until I read the afterword. My only problem was that there were times when she strayed into hyperbole, making observations that were outside or diverged from the story. This is a minor complaint and one the probably will not occur to most readers and the asides are very well written. To find that this was written after the 201 I really wavered between giving this book five starts and the four I settled on. The story is more than compelling; that it is based on a true story was not revealed to me until I read the afterword. My only problem was that there were times when she strayed into hyperbole, making observations that were outside or diverged from the story. This is a minor complaint and one the probably will not occur to most readers and the asides are very well written. To find that this was written after the 2016 elections and is a direct rebuke to our current POTUS, makes perfect sense in retrospect. This is one book that I wish I'd researched the origins of prior to reading it. The parallels between the rise of Nazism and what is happening in our country are frighting and incontrovertible. At its crux, however, this is a love story and a very well told tale of the hardships of war, set in Germany during WWII. It is seldom that I truly feel that I can't put a book down but this was one that I could not. I finished it last night closing in on 2 AM. Edit: After not being able to get this book off my mind I am changing my rating from a four to a five.
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  • Chrissy
    January 1, 1970
    I'm really disappointed by the reviewers on this website. So many people gave this book a 1 star rating, not because of the content of the book, but because the author stated that her inspiration for the novel came from the 2016 election and the following Charlottesville white supremacist march where a young girl died. That was the author's right. And it may be your right to be angry about that, but to say "This book was amazing but I gave it a 1 star review because of her politics" was seriousl I'm really disappointed by the reviewers on this website. So many people gave this book a 1 star rating, not because of the content of the book, but because the author stated that her inspiration for the novel came from the 2016 election and the following Charlottesville white supremacist march where a young girl died. That was the author's right. And it may be your right to be angry about that, but to say "This book was amazing but I gave it a 1 star review because of her politics" was seriously incredibly immature. Rate the BOOK. (Also, it's a true story about her husband's family, so it's not even like she made the story up.) The book, by the way, really is amazing. Slow to start, but once it picks up it's an incredible story about a man's silent resistance to the evils of Nazi Germany. I highly recommend it, regardless of your politics.
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  • Alicia
    January 1, 1970
    I have mixed feelings about this book. It's moving and interesting subject matter, slightly bumpy start but finds a good rhythm. The afterword was interesting but left the impression that the author regretted some of her fiction vs non-fiction choices.
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  • Emily
    January 1, 1970
    Put this on your special book shelf beside The Diary of Anne Frank and A Gentleman in Moscow. Add Timothy Snyder's On Tyranny. Don't forget the author's notes at the end. And don't look at a single blurb till you've read the book. How I envy you if you have yet to read a page of this golden gift of literature.
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  • Glenda Pogorelsky
    January 1, 1970
    This is one of those few occasions on which I need reminding to take no notice of glowing reviews. Everyone has their taste and mine precludes - with utter loathing - present tense writing, a pretentious modern phenomenon that fails to produce the sense of atmosphere it seeks to create. A strong and exciting story might have helped, but to get to anything resembling an actual plot required wading through paragraphs of high prose descriptive fluff that served no purpose other than to fill space. This is one of those few occasions on which I need reminding to take no notice of glowing reviews. Everyone has their taste and mine precludes - with utter loathing - present tense writing, a pretentious modern phenomenon that fails to produce the sense of atmosphere it seeks to create. A strong and exciting story might have helped, but to get to anything resembling an actual plot required wading through paragraphs of high prose descriptive fluff that served no purpose other than to fill space. I can compare it to a recipe: Take one ordinary, but conscientious friar, mix in a godly, prim, German "frau" whose loss of a husband pushes her to find a mug willing to marry in order to provide for her children (no sex, please). Add a pinch of nasty, bullying SS wannabes, and a cup full of plot to assassinate Hitler (which had nothing to do with his end anyway), and you land up with an inedible stew.Throwing in, at the end, some twaddle about lessons learned from Nazi Germany as it applies to the current President of the United States - was a particularly cheap exercise. I have no time for Trump myself, but comparing him with the genocidal intentions of the Nazis, and with the brutal dictatorships and terrorist doctrines of today's world? No sympathy from me on that one, I'm afraid.I can appreciate a well-meaning tribute to a relative by marriage, but for me, high prose and a sweet love story does not good literature make.
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  • Margo
    January 1, 1970
    A lovely novel based on a real family story. A cross between a prayer and a good sermon about helping others. Very thoughtful with recognition of why people would cooperate with the Nazis. Warning - some terrible brutality but still a statement of goodness, faith and determination of doing right in the face of evil. Plot - I will try not to spoil the book. Nazi Germany: An ex-friar marries a widow with 3 children. There are in a very small German town that is untouched by the Nazi and even have A lovely novel based on a real family story. A cross between a prayer and a good sermon about helping others. Very thoughtful with recognition of why people would cooperate with the Nazis. Warning - some terrible brutality but still a statement of goodness, faith and determination of doing right in the face of evil. Plot - I will try not to spoil the book. Nazi Germany: An ex-friar marries a widow with 3 children. There are in a very small German town that is untouched by the Nazi and even have a Catholic church. Anton, the ex-friar, becomes part of the SS by carrying secret messages with the aim of killing Hitler. He endangers himself, the priest and his family. Among many activities he hides the village bells so that they will not be claimed for the war. Lots of details of ordinary survival (barter system) and finding love and peace.I did not think I could bear reading another story about Nazi Germany but this one is different. I highly recommend.
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  • Emily
    January 1, 1970
    Put this on your special book shelf beside The Diary of Anne Frank and A Gentleman in Moscow. Add Timothy Snyder's On Tyranny. Don't forget the author's notes at the end. And don't look at a single blurb till you've read the book. How I envy you if you have yet to read a page of this golden gift of literature.
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