Book tour stop! Today I’m delighted to be the host for The Scent of a Storm, a historical novel written by Annette Oppenlander.
First thing first, let me thank RABT Book Tours and the author for providing me with an e-copy of this book. Much obliged *hat tip*
MEET THE BOOK
A heart-wrenching love story for the ages – inspired by true events
Eastern Prussia, 1944: Young lovers Annie and Werner are separated from each other when he is drafted into Hitler’s Volkssturm. While the SS orders Werner to remove the dead bodies of frozen refugees from Königsberg’s streets, Annie discovers she is pregnant. As she urgently awaits Werner’s return, rumors of the advancing Red Army mount and with it, alarming reports of what they do to women. Running for their lives, Annie and her mother embark on a life-threatening journey west. Even before they can escape by boat, Annie makes a horrifying mistake, one that will haunt her forever. Werner, arrested and imprisoned in a Russian gulag, manages to escape after four months of cruelty and returns home. But his and Annie’s farms lie abandoned—the love of his life and his own family have vanished…
East Berlin, 1989: On the evening of November 9, when the borders between East and West Berlin open for the first time in nearly thirty years—a day which ultimately heralds Germany’s reunification—Annie watches a correspondent on West TV who reminds her of her childhood sweetheart Werner, the man she has thought dead for 45 years. Together with her daughter Emma, Annie sets out on a search…
Publication date: 24/09/21
READ MY REVIEW
Cover: Oh no. It doesn’t do any justice to the book, as there’s too much going on.
Germany, 1944. The Red Army is advancing through Eastern Prussia, occupying cities and villages, and forcing civilians to flee. Among them there are Annie and Werner, two teens whose love story gets interrupted when Werner is drafted. From then on, they struggle to survive as the political landscape changes.
The Scent of a Storm features a double POV, split into different sections. I appreciate the distinction, as it doesn’t leave room for confusion, enhancing the first-person POV at the same time. Oppenlander masters the two MCs in a skillful way, even if Annie’s parts come off a little stronger than Werner’s. This is rather clear at the beginning of his section, where he might read a bit stilted. The pacing picks up rather soon, however, and it flows nicely enough until the ending.
Both Annie and Werner grow throughout the book, shedding layers of innocence and naivety as the story progresses. They don’t become the shells of themselves though, and that’s a pleasant touch: it would have been easier to fall for that writing trick, and I’m glad Oppenlander decided to write them as still capable of love. The Scent of a Storm is a love story, after all.
The dual timeline is conducive to a big cast of characters. Most of them are portrayed in an excellent way—the care Oppenlander put in crafting Oma Leo is a testimony of it, for example—even the ones who appear for a brief moment.
I do agree with Oppenlander re: the ending. I don’t want to give anything away here; I’m just saying that I see her point, even if I’m not sure I would have followed the same route if I were in her shoes. Regardless, it’s a sound epilogue. It fits the general theme and the spirit of the book.
4 stars on GR.
MEET THE AUTHOR
Annette Oppenlander is an award-winning writer, literary coach and educator. As a bestselling historical novelist, Oppenlander is known for her authentic characters and stories based on true events, coming alive in well-researched settings. Having lived in Germany the first half of her life and the second half in various parts in the U.S., Oppenlander inspires readers by illuminating story questions as relevant today as they were in the past. Oppenlander’s bestselling true WWII story, Surviving the Fatherland, was elected to IWIC’s Hall of Fame and won the 2017 National Indie Excellence Award. Her historical time-travel trilogy, Escape from the Past, takes readers to the German Middle Ages and the Wild West. Uniquely, Oppenlander weaves actual historical figures and events into her plots, giving readers a flavor of true history while enjoying a good story. Oppenlander shares her knowledge through writing workshops at colleges, libraries and schools. She also offers vivid presentations and author visits. The mother of fraternal twins and a son, she recently returned to her home, Solingen, Germany where she lives with her husband and old mutt, Mocha.
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