...hard-to-put-down ... Epstein does an amazing job of showing how Hitler's reign changed the German people through the characters of these two close friends ... This latest from Epstein...starts slowly but builds to a twist ending, bringing these two story lines to a satisfying conclusion. Give this to fans of Kristin Hannah's The Nightingale.
A wealth of history turns Wunderland into a novel that’s both beautiful and devastating. Author Jennifer Cody Epstein ... taps into the 1930s prewar era, laying out an unsparing narrative that details tragic events and horrifying legacies.
...[an] absorbing exploration of friendship, betrayal, and coming to terms with the past ... Suggest this to fans of novels like Jessica Shattuck’s The Women in the Castle (2017) and Martha Hall Kelly’s Lilac Girls (2016).
The portions of the novel set during the 1930s can be difficult to read, in large part because they trace Ilse’s growing affinity for the Nazi party ... Epstein does a wonderful job of tracing the route ordinary Germans took on their way to committing or condoning atrocities. She also shows, chillingly, how the road to the Holocaust started in small acts of seemingly insignificant aggression or intimidation toward Jews and half-Jews like Renate ... Epstein effectively and heartbreakingly explores questions of loyalty, betrayal, and the limits of forgiveness and friendship in her third novel, poignantly illustrating how the mistakes and tragedies of the past continue to reverberate --- within families and throughout societies --- for years and decades to come.
Three women carry the narrative weight of this searing novel ... Renate’s gradual ostracism by her school—formerly a top student, she is subjected to racism-dictated grade deflation—and even by those she counted as friends, is excruciating to read. The characterization of Ilse is more challenging, but her enthusiastic embrace of the lifestyle of a Hitler devotee is authentically depicted, as is her dogged refusal to be disillusioned despite various rude awakenings to the role envisioned for women in the Reich. Representing the German postwar generation, Ava holds her own here and is not merely an afterthought; her relationship with Ulrich, son of an Auschwitz victim, is particularly poignant and echoes the friendship of Ilse and Renate, which neither ever truly renounces, at least psychically. A vividly written and stark chronicle of Nazism and its legacies.
Epstein’s heartbreaking historical tour de force...juxtaposes Nazi-era Germany and 1980s New York City to devastating effect ... Man’s inhumanity to man—and the redemptive power of forgiveness—is on stark and effective display in Epstein’s gripping novel, a devastating tale bound for bestseller lists.