Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Alyson Reuben - A Beautiful Cage

Wanted by the Gestapo, Rebecca Bloomberg is on the run for her life. Sheltering in the home of a reporter who writes absurd lies for a Nazi propaganda newspaper is hardly an ideal solution. Irresistibly drawn to the man, she dares not trust him, until she discovers his journalist position is a mask for involvement in an anti-Nazi resistance ring.
Gustav Von Furst has done all he can to perfect his mask. Neither his family nor his close friends know the truth. Hiding a Jewish girl is the most foolish risk, yet there is something about her that makes him want to protect her.
Eager to forget the outside world, Rebecca and Gustav are caught up in a private world of forbidden passion—until unexpected danger lands on their doorstep and they’re faced with a decision that will change everything. Will love demand a sacrifice too great to give?

Comment: I can't remember when I got my eyes on this book but since it happened I decided I had to try it. It's been in my TBR list since last year and this month I agreed with a friend to buddy read it and share ideas. I think she ended up liking a bit more than I did, but overall, it was an interesting read.
This is a story with an interesting premise. Rebecca Bloomberg is hiding from the Gestapo during the Nazi rule in Germany. Her Jewish family is all gone and her only hope is to try to find the house where her younger brothers supposedly went after the family lost their house and her father was arrested. During her attempt to leave the apartment where she's been to said house, she is seen by Gustav von Furst, a young German man who has been in love with her for a long time, ever since her family owned the closest bank where his family had their money. Gustav saves Rebecca and with the agreement of his grandmother, hides her in their house until figuring a way to take her out of Germany. Can the three of them stay out of the German authorities attention? What will Rebecca do when she realizes she and Gustav are in love?
In general, I liked this book. If I were to think about it as a whole I'd always recommend it or think positively about it. But there a couple of things that bothered me a bit, which distracting me enough from giving the book a higher mark. Of course all is relative and my buddy reading friend liked it a bit more than I did.
The story focuses on how Gustav and his grandmother, who live together in Berlin, help hiding a Jew young woman, Rebecca. Gustav has always felt attracted to Rebecca and saw her fall in love with her boyfriend but now she's alone and he can't help but helping her. Gustav also has a secret, he's actually spying and decoding messages for the German Resistance opposing the Nazis. This isn't seen much in books - or movies - so I curious to read about how a national resistance movement could work. We never think about the German citizens who didn't like Hitler or his ideas and ruling so I was quite curious to read about it. The fact there was a romance convinced me further.
However, my biggest problem comes from the writing itself. Although I appreciate the effort and the research work the author certainly did to compile ideas and real things to create this story, I feel some of the ideas didn't translate as fluid as they should to the actual book. I got the feeling some scenes were quite disjointed and lacked the power of emotion, especially if one bears in mind the time setting.
Several things were happening and that's fine but not always what would happen in one scene would go smoothly leading to the next one and it felt like we were getting different things that should matter and had to be included in the plot, so they were there, but not exactly in a well structured way.
I also think there wasn't enough emotion in the story. I applaud the fact the author tried to bring some joy and routines to the character's lives, after all they couldn't all be gloomy and desperate, even more so if others were paying attention to sudden changes in behavior but I always got the feeling people's lives at the time must have been so paranoiac...it's weird to read how mundane some things were when it pertained to daily lives. But the emotion behind all that lacked the sort of intensity I expected.
There's a romance happening, which is great. It only helped to prove love can happen to anyone, anywhere when you least expect it. But again, Gustav and Rebecca's romance was strongly based on what they said they felt and little on their personal growth. Neither really got much development by being in love. The intimacy between them, even if one considers the stress and pressure of living like that which could result in behaviors they wouldn't normally have, wasn't very romantic. I missed the parts where we should have seen them falling in love, where their feelings and thoughts were about the other, about the romantic aspects of it. If the aim was to point out the need for contact even in oppression times, it lacked its historical impact because it felt like were scenes more focused on lust.
Anyway, this is just my impressions of course. It seems all I have to say is negative, but it's only because were things that stayed with me the most. I liked the majority of the novel and had a good time reading. I also loved Bertie, Gustav's grandmother. Her personality and attitude was fascinating and sweet and I loved we had someone positive and caring on the page.
All in all, I just think focus on the wrong details and not enough character development, not enough scenes where the main couple would show their feelings instead of consummating them made me lower my grade to what would have been quite the successful historical story for me.
Grade: 6/10

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