Munich Girl by Phyllis Edgerly Ring
Publisher: Whole Sky Books (November 14, 2015)
Category: Historical Fiction, WWII, Germany, Family Saga
Tour date: Feb 1-Mar 31, 2017
Available in Print & ebook, 356 pages
Description of Munich Girl by Phyllis Edgerly Ring
The Munich Girl: A novel of the legacies that outlast war.
The past may not be done with us. What secrets is a portrait of Eva Braun hiding?
Anna Dahlberg grew up eating dinner under her father’s war-trophy portrait of Eva Braun. Fifty years after the war, she discovers what he never did—that her mother and Hitler’s mistress were friends.
Plunged into the world of the “ordinary” Munich girl who was her mother’s confidante—and a tyrant’s lover—Anna uncovers long-buried secrets and unknown reaches of her heart, to reveal the enduring power of love in the legacies that always outlast war.
Fiction Finalist in 2016 Eric Hoffer Book Awards
Praise for Munich Girl by Phyllis Edgerly Ring
“I was drawn in by Phyllis Ring’s economical and expressive language. Then the story took over! Protagonist Anna Dahlberg must face the emotional fallout from a traumatic plane crash, while simultaneously uncovering the first clues in a shocking generational mystery involving key players in the Third Reich. Everything’s complicated by a new romance that may help her overcome the past and find her true inner strength. But is it real? Love can manifest itself in enigmatic–and unexpected–ways.”- Elizabeth Sims, author and contributing editor at Writer’s Digest magazine
Exploring the legacies that outlast war
When I was a U.S. military brat in the 1960s, my first friends were German families. Then I married another brat who’d also spent part of his childhood in Germany and we began returning there as often as we could. I realized that if I wanted to understand this culture I love so much (as I struggled to relearn its language), I needed to understand more about Germany’s experience during WWII.
Never could I have imagined how quickly that intention would take me straight to Hitler’s living room. Within the week, I received a copy of British writer Angela Lambert’s biography of Hitler’s mistress – later wife — Eva Braun. Then a series of circumstances led to my encounter with the portrait of Braun that began to unwind the sequence of events in my novel, The Munich Girl.
I did a lot of reading — 120+ books — about that time period in Germany, as well as about Eva Braun’s life. I watched the hours and hours of films she had made, and spent many more hours reviewing her hundreds of photographs.
Eventually, I made two trips to the U.S. National Archives to see photo albums of hers that were confiscated by the Allies after the war. On each visit, I pored over those three-dozen albums, most arranged haphazardly with little attention to chronological order, watching for patterns and connections that formed a larger picture, one that conveyed the emotional tone of things.
Over several years, I spent time in various locations in Germany that are a part of the story, and often spent spans of time there working on the book. I did this, in part, because I wanted every aspect of the scenes to feel as authentic as possible, as well as true to their time.
As I studied Eva Braun’s photographs and films, I got to know the interiors and exteriors of many settings as they appeared during the 1930s and ’40s. A fun element of my research was the growing collection of vintage postcards I collected that show scenes from that era in many of the settings of the story.
A major turning point in the novel’s development occurred when I discovered, while researching the Trials at Nuremberg, that an action of Eva Braun’s in the last week of her life saved the lives of about 35,000 Allied prisoners of war. Two members of my mother’s family were among them.
This led me to new levels in the unfolding story, spurred by the idea that the reality of situations is always deeper and more complex than things may appear on the surface. And also, the power of real relationships, no matter the circumstances around them, can have beneficial effects in many lives, even generations later.
The question people asked me at the outset is the same one they still ask: “Why Eva Braun?” The story’s goal has never been to try to exonerate or “redeem” her, or how she is perceived. She’s an excellent motif for examining how people, especially women, suppress our own lives, and what forces and factors lead us to do that.
She also offers a way to look at the reality that human beings are complex. She clearly had a conscience, and acted on it, and, like most of us, tried to make good choices — choices to serve good — when she could. She also made ones that served neither herself nor others very well. Do we negate or devalue the contributions that someone makes because they also do things that are misguided, ill-advised, or even personally destructive? Do we not all share this same complexity in experience? These are themes I wanted to explore.
One revelation I encountered in my research was that much of what had been written about Eva Braun was often incomplete, frequently inaccurate, and sometimes, the details of an entirely different person’s life. Yet these things have been widely accepted as truth. This made me wonder: how much of the truth do we miss because we approach finding it with ingrained, inherited — often blindly imitative — assumptions? In other words, how much do our biases trip us up before we even get started?
Another paradox, for me, was the recognition that those very qualities of compassion and caring that the Third Reich sought so aggressively to suppress and demean were what Hitler came home to Eva Braun for. The massive hypocrisy in that got me wondering how this continuing imbalance, which misunderstands and devalues those “softer” human aspects — even as it needs and depends on them — is still creating the kind of chaotic, power-pursuing conditions that engulf our world in so much violence and suffering.
About Phyllis Edgerly Ring
Author Phyllis Edgerly Ring lives in New England and returns as often as she can to her childhood home in Germany. Her years there left her with a deep desire to understand the experience of Germans during the Second World War. She has studied plant sciences and ecology, worked as a nurse, been a magazine writer and editor, taught English to kindergartners in China, and served as program director at a Baha’i conference center in Maine.
She is also author of the novel, Snow Fence Road, and the inspirational nonfiction, Life at First Sight: Finding the Divine in the Details. Her book for children, Jamila Does Not Want a Bat in Her House, is scheduled for release by Bellwood Press in early 2017.
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