It’s 1943 and Hitler’s Germany is a terrifying place to be. But Magda Ritter’s duty is the most dangerous of all…
Assigned to The Berghof, Hitler’s mountain retreat, she must serve the Reich by becoming the Führer’s ‘Taster’ – a woman who checks his food for poison. Magda can see no way out of this hellish existence until she meets Karl, an SS officer who has formed an underground resistance group within Hitler’s inner circle.
As their forbidden love grows, Magda and Karl see an opportunity to stop the atrocities of the madman leading their country. But in doing so, they risk their lives, their families and, above all, a love unlike either of them have ever known…
Lose yourself in this sweeping, heroic love story fraught with danger.
‘Her Hidden Life’, reads more like a memoir than a novel. Partly due to the iconic historical time but primarily because of the quality of the writing and the painstaking research that underlines it.
The story captures the underlying fear that symbolised Germany in 1943 and the sinister shadow of the Gestapo that ordinary German citizens experienced. Magda’s own family is divided, her mother, a supporter of the regime, though more out of fear of reprisal than anything else. Magda’s father is critical of the government but again only in private. Both her parents want their daughter away from the bombing in Berlin, and so she is shipped off to her paternal uncle and forced to work for Hitler.
Magda’s life as a taster of Hitler’s food is knife-edge, as is living so close to the man and his entourage. The story portrays well the thinly veiled menace, and the sense of needing to do whatever it takes to survive is apparent. Her romance with Karl an SS officer is fraught with danger but surprisingly charming, Magda’s naivety makes her seem younger than she is and shows how courageous some of her actions and decisions are. The atrocities of the Nazi regime are acknowledged and are the catalyst for much of the story, but there is a sense of the horror without overly graphic description.
The historical characters are realistic, but some of the others lack depth, this may be due to the shallowness of Magda’s interactions with others, but a little more characterisation of her fellow tasters and the cook would have been better. Overall it is an absorbing, tense story with a vibrant historical setting making it worthwhile reading.
I received a copy of this book from Avon Books UK via NetGalley in return for an honest review.