Which are the most compelling themes in the book for you?
Lukas hiding in the cellar; Millie try to placate Hugh.
I don’t like Mr Henratty! What will happen to Millie?
Loving this book.
I felt sorry for Mr. Henratty. Today he would be diagnosed with PTSD. His actions however terrible were brought about because of his disease.
Marianna or Charles Liapes Jr.
Hope I’m doing this right. First time for everything.
I think the most compelling theme, for me, throughout the whole book is perseverance. During many different difficult situations, they don’t give up. Millie doesn’t give up on her farm, or on Lukas, Hugh won’t give up on Millie, Hanratty won’t give up finding the Nazi, Lukas won’t give up looking for the farm, England will definitely not give up, and there are probably more but I can’t remember them right now.
Good point. Each of those characters doggedly hold onto their dreams. In the end, many do need to adjust to reality, continuing on with their lives.
This resonates with me as well.
I to play agree with you
I meant totally agree with you. Stupid autocorrect and my bad proof reading!
Such a good point. I wonder if only I would hold on so doggedly to my own dreams, they’ll come true, in one way or another, 1 year later or like Millie and Lukas, 10 years later.
very well written .
Mr Henratty won’t give up on making Millie pay as a traitor and Russell won’t give up on trying to find June.
Yes, I agree; and counter that with those that didn’t attempt to persevere, Jack and June. And how they hand their issues
loss. just started reading this. Looking forward to it.
Me too Kim. Started it tonight. Let me know how far you Get!
As much as it would be simple to say that there is only one theme to cover the overall story, there isn’t. There are so interdependent themes that are too connected to pick and choose a few. For example, I can say that one of the most significant theme is that love is prominent through the ages and is inevitable whether or the two are supposed to be “enemies” and people will do anything for love. However, that theme would not be true without another theme: determination and perseverance is needed to find love and be happy, whether in death… Read more »
For me it is that love can overcome any kind of difference.
I’m on Chapter 6. Love the writing. So far, the need to care is a compelling theme that I feel.
Just getting started. Excited to share the book with everyone.
The effects of propaganda, personal values vs. national/community expectations, self-worth (Millie’s husband, Hanratty, Brigsie, June), unrequited love (Hugh), resiliency, and of course, love are the most compelling themes running throughout the book.
I like your point about propaganda. That was an important factor in WW2, especially in Britain. Germans and later, Italians, were characterized quite badly through state-sponsored propaganda using posters and other media.
Millie not giving up, keeping the farm after her husband’s death…all the different twists and turns…unsure if i answered this correctly, but still fun to discuss….
Love, loss, hope, compassion.
I found the most compelling theme to be forgiveness. It’s easy to ask for and oh so difficult to truly grant.
Millie needed to forgive her husband. She wanted forgiveness for the morally ambiguous act of assisting a wounded enemy soldier. But she was completely mercenary in her not forgiving Hugh his transgression. Her readiness to pounce on an excuse to not marry Hugh made for a sweeter love story but it also tarnished her character, I thought.
I thought she did forgive him. I think Hugh finally realised their marriage wouldn’t work and he walked away.
interesting, I read it that Hugh couldn’t forgive Millie, that Millie might have been able to love Hugh eventually because he was now human and not a saint.
she couldn’t marry him because she didn’t love him. she already knew what a loveless marriage was.
i read it that she was willing to let Hugh’s lapse pass and accept him again as he is. She just opened her heart to him (as she should seeing they were to marry) he could not forgive her. He held her on some sort of pedestal – Millie is MINE! and sadly his big heart wasn’t big enough for affair with Lukas.
I guess I answered this question when I commented on the greatest loss. The most compelling theme ,for me, was that people might suffer great losses but are capable of pulling them selves up and continuing on with their lives. There were a lot of themes in this story, love, hate, revenge, cowardice, intolerance and even homosexuality, which from the clues given was probably the reason for Millie’s husband’s suicide..
I can not believe I missed that! There where so many clues about Jack being gay.
I am halfway through the book. I see loneliness in Millie as a theme. She loved her husband and but they never really connected to each other so she was lonely even when he was alive and even more so after his suicide because the loneliness was increased by the grief she felt. I think Hugh was also lonely and wanted Millie to connect with him, but she wasn’t interested in him in the same way. Lukas felt a connection to Millie because of their common exposure to suicide of people they loved. I don’t yet see a loneliness in… Read more »
The overall theme of the book is the hell of war even on civilians. The damage to warriors psyches and the salve of love and kindness. Overall the book covers loss, mental illness, fear, love, determination, national pride and shame, in other words life.
I am fascinated by this time in history, probably because I was born soon after this in 1952 but in the US. The way England and other European countries pulled together was amazing. I have German heritage and I can understand the feeling of shame that Germany was responsible for so much hate and destruction. At least the average person showed kindness to each other in dire straits and even found the capacity to love the ‘enemy’. I think the average German was as shocked and disgusted by the Nazi behavior as the rest of the world.
Yes Connie. That is so true. The German people who opposed Hitler were treated as the Jews were. That is why we hear so little of the opposition to the horror.
I liked your input on this.
Forgiveness, understanding and love.
The hope that human kindness will save mankind is the overarching theme. Man’s inhumanity to man, of course, but also the inability of the male species to have compassion for women.
forgiveness of self and others; inner strength to adapt and live after great loss
Forgiveness is a major theme along with love and compassion.
I agree, forgiveness and love.
Love conquers was my final thought. Through so many obstacles, Millie And Lukas survive and go on. Their memories of their short love affair sustain them. I found it interesting that loveable Hugh at the end wasn’t forgiving. He wanted to be accepted for his wrong doings with June and yet was repelled when Millie finally told him the truth about she and Lukas.
Hugh wanted to owner. His “Mille”. “Your finally mine”. I liked Hugh, until she told him. What a curr. Lukas and Millie forgave many many things. Strange.
I was fascinated by the theme of bigotry, nationalism and prejudice in this book. I appreciated how the author was able to express this theme through the dialogue between the characters…British contempt for collaborators and Germans; German hatred for, well, everyone but Aryans; British vs. British (those who serve vs those who stay at home); German vs German, esp. in the camps.
In order to kill the enemy, it seems one must paint them all with the black brush of evil.
Love is a powerful thing, it can make and break you. Really enjoyed this book, I was surprised in the end. Had worked out all sorts of scenarios but not the one I got.
Loneliness, perseverance, redemption. But I have to wonder if Millie would have been as attracted to Lukas is he didn’t know some English!
Humanity and the lack of humanity. Reaching out to help others no matter the cost or turning a blind eye to the cruelty inflicted to others. And how one action (good or bad) can cause a ripple effect.
From some of the worst condition s love can thrive.
Now sadly I have finished this great book. Now I think the most compelling theme is endurance of the human spirit. Churchill said “. Never, never, never give up”. Mollie endured the loss of her husband, endured Hugh and loved him as a brother endured the loss of Biggsie and her friendship. Endured her loneliness, and solitude, her exposure to the bitter winter. Endured June and Ruby both were not really her type. But she endured them. Millie endured other horrors too. Lukas endured the contempt of his nation. Henratty endured his infirmity too long. Hugh endured Mollie putting him… Read more »
well thought out.
Made me aware of the shame some Germans felt about the crimes against the Jewish people during the war. How the English population showed kindness to the German POW’s even though they fought and killed their English families and friends. Also the hardship and determination of English people during the bombings and their overall goals to carry on.
They never gave up on each other. Even when she was engaged to Hugh she still thought of Lucas.
Hanratty’s character stuck with me – small minded, angry character – he behaves like a lout believing he’s justified in his behavior. Because he believes his actions are warranted he’s the most dangerous kind of angry person I believe.
Obvious kindness. Had millie been the one who thought like her best friend and land girl brigsie, or Hugh or rather constable hanratty- she would have turned Lukas the moment she spotted him. This definitely wouldn’t have changed anything in the war situation. But her small act of kindness has definitely united her with Lukas and war eventually ended.
Love and obsessive attachment. Hugh was obsessed with Millie. Lukas loved her without actually having any contact for years. Millie returned that love but had given up and was ready to marry Hugh. His rejection after her confession proved Hugh didn’t really love her.
The biggest theme for me was the white washing of Nazi and German history in order to make Lukas and acceptably sympathetic character. To pretend that deep seated cultural antisemitism was not a huge factor in the rise of the Third Reich and that average Germans were not complicit in The Holocaust is ahistorical at best. Even if you buy into the idea that a member of the Luftwaffe was entire native of The Final Solution, he was still willing to kill Allied soldiers while trying to invade their homelands. That military aggression alone made it impossible for me to… Read more »
I think one overall theme is how one feels about their country while at war. Lucas was excited and proud to be in the Luftwaffe and part of the German army, while not a Nazi. When he starts translating and spends time with Zoller, he unearths what is truly going on in his Germany. I have wondered myself how Germans felt after the war was over about the holocaust. This story as it unravels portrays everyday people and how they felt. Well done.
I agree a theme is finding salvation. There is a key conversation between Joseph and Lucas. Joseph says…”But you chose to co-operate. You see, Lucas, I spend my days organizing prisoners, reading transcripts, listening to their stories and they sadden me, often they sicken me but every now and then I come across a glimmer of hope, a flash of human decency and I wonder if our salvation lies not in politics, or treaties, but in individual acts of kindness which are as inexplicable as the violence our country has unleashed upon the world.” I love this passage. I read… Read more »
The tension of making a decision , whether
Spontaneous or considering repercussions.
The simplicity of making a heartfelt decision
And the perversion of hate basted decisions.
I think the theme is every nation of people is capable of carrying out genocide or acts of evil for which we commonly associate with Nazis and Germans in general. Any country can kill millions. Many nations are doing exactly that right now, but they are just using inconspicuous methods of exterminating undesirables from their population. We may want to think our countries are above human rights crimes, but they are not. The prejudice, bigotry, fanaticism, secretly spying on one’s own people, and violating the privacy of one’s citizens were carried out by British characters such as Brigsie, Hugh, Constable… Read more »
Forgiveness…and kindness and love that chooses to go on regardless of a horrible war.
I agree that love and compassion was the theme. I also liked the strong women despite all the stressful situations. Not a fan of Hanratty either. Wonderful read for me!
The most compelling themes of the book were the fight between good and evil and that all human beings deserve kindness especially those who have suffered.
The most compelling theme I found in the book was that love can be found anywhere and at any time.
Reader from Berlin here! For me, it was most fascinating to see that the author worked the transcripts of the Wehrmacht soldiers’ conversations in there that show that they were far more aware of the mass killings than was usually claimed. For me that is still “new” and when it first made the headlines it led to lots of questioning about my own family history. I’m also glad that Lukas had to go the whole way with no shortcuts to come to terms with what our country did. “I just want to fly and don’t care about politics” would have… Read more »
Your phrase “glamour of the Third Reich” is very appropriate. It captures the magical way the Nazis captured the country’s spirit. For some, it is still potent. Lukas had that glamour washed off by an extreme, listening to the perpetrators, that we no longer have, thank heavens.
Madness of what war is and what it does to people…
Faith that in the end, love will prevail. Millie and Lukas held onto to hope to the end…..
The conflict between the faceless waring of nations and the personal interaction of a couple who love each other despite being “enemies”.
I enjoyed the book very much. The most compelling was the way they were treated the prisoner of war and was relieved when that improved. I was about one years old when we were bombed out in Scotland. In 1941. They rehoused about 120 families who had been bombed out in a converted army camp. I was about 4 at the time and saw this man come walking up the street with something rolled up under his arm. I asked someone who he was it might have been my Mum and she said oh that’s the German prisoner of war.… Read more »
What a wonderful first-hand account. It backs up everything my research revealed, that the people of Britain were surprisingly forgiving towards the prisoners of war in this country. Thank you so much for sharing your childhood memories here.
I think one theme is that in spite of war and divided loyalties, underneath it all we are all connected. That it becomes more difficult to relegate someone to the “enemy” camp when you meet them and get to know them. So much easier to do that to an anonymous enemy! We read about the kindnesses that are displayed – Millie helping Lukas, Lukas helping Zoller, the community sharing friendly greetings with the POWs and feeding the workers. There is that saying that familiarity breeds contempt. However, it also breeds sympathy and empathy.