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The Winter Garden (Clara Vine 2) Hardcover – 13 Feb 2014
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'The perfect fusion of history, suspense and high romance' (The Times on Black Roses)
'A thoughtful but fast-moving novel' (Reader's Digest on Black Roses)
'This well-researched story unfolds with utterly knuckle-whitening suspense, and it was my favourite escapist read of the year' (Saga Magazine on Black Roses)
'Terrific' (Elizabeth Buchan The Sunday Times on Black Roses)
'Jane Thynne's smooth writing, sensitive understanding of the era and sharp observations combine into an excellent historical thriller' (Jessica Mann Literary Review on Black Roses)
'Fast-paced and gripping' (The Sunday Times on The Winter Garden)
'A thoroughly enjoyable read: fast-paced, atmospheric and genuinely suspenseful' (Mail on Sunday on The Winter Garden)
'Both historically fascinating and a proper thriller' (Reader's Digest on The Winter Garden)
'An absolute cracker of a read...Thynne expertly maintains the suspense, while evoking the tension of Berlin as the city gathers its strength for war' (The Times on The Winter Garden)
'A thumpingly good read with a strong denouement' (Mail on Sunday on The Winter Garden)
'So convincing one forgets that it is a piece of fiction' (The Lady on The Winter Garden)
'Pre-war Germany's atmosphere of reprehension, terror and Nazi hubris is vividly evoked in a gripping but sad tale' (Jessica Mann Literary Review on The Winter Garden)
'A tale of suspense and intrigue...Thynne's grasp of the period is first-class, and she has woven in a tender wartime love story' (Mail on Sunday on A War of Flowers)
'Darkly brooding horror hangs overGermany; an irresistible page-turner packed with historical detail and toldfrom a most unusual perspective' (Kirkus Reviews on Faith and Beauty)
‘This is the fourth of the addictive ‘Clara Vine’ novels, set in Berlin on the eve of war. Clara is a half-German British agent with access to the inner circle of Nazi wives. Portraits of women such as Magda Goebbels and Eva Braun are ruthlessly truthful, but drawn with compassion. It is early 1939, and Clara is drawn into investigating the murder of a girl at the League of Faith and Beauty finishing school. Brilliant’ (Saga magazine on Faith and Beauty)
About the Author
Jane Thynne was born in Venezuela and educated in London. She graduated from Oxford University with a degree in English and joined the BBC as a journalist. She has also worked at The Sunday Times, The Daily Telegraph and The Independent, as well as for numerous British magazines. She appears as a broadcaster on Radio 4. Jane is married to the writer Philip Kerr. They have three children and live in London. Find out more at www.janethynne.com connect with her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter @janethynne
Top customer reviews
The plot itself is unsubtle and written from our perspective with our hindsight: the Nazis are all monsters, not necessarily the dominant view of the time as is shown via the Mitfords and Wallis and Edward VIII.
Despite lots of niggles, though, I still found this an engrossing read: it could just be better than it manages to be - 3.5 stars.
The book begins with the murder of Anna Hansen, who Clara knew previously as a dancer and an artist’s model, but who was about to marry an SS officer and was attending one of the government’s Reich Bride Schools. When Clara’s friend, journalist Mary Harker, returns from covering the Spanish Civil War, she is interested in the crime. At first, it seems the regime is covering it up as an embarrassment, but then the Gestapo become involved. What did Anna know, or do, that got her killed and why is Clara suddenly under suspicion?
This is an exciting and, I found, a much more enjoyable read than the first book – with Clara a much more rounded character. Again, the author has used so many real life people in this novel; not only the intensely creepy Goebbels and his wife, Magda, but all of the Nazi elite (there is a fascinating trip to Goering’s vast hunting lodge, Carinall), a brief cameo appearance by Charles Lindbergh, as well as visiting British dignitaries, the Duke of Windsor and Wallis Simpson, on a honeymoon to Nazi Germany, and two of the Mitford sisters – Unity (wonderfully eccentric and deranged) and the cool and capable Diana. There are also two more men in Clara’s life; Englishman Ralph Sommers and Oberst Arno Strauss, friend of her new co-star the WWI flying hero, Ernst Udet. It is clear that war is expected and that Germany are preparing for a totally different kind of conflict than any seen before. The bombing of civilians in Spain suggests that air attacks will be used and the British want to find out what Germany has planned.
I really think that Jane Thynne has the makings of a wonderful series here. With Black Roses I had a few reservations, but this, second book, is much more assured and interesting than the first – fast paced and well plotted, with good characters and fascinating historical cameo appearances. It is certainly a series I will follow and, hopefully, Clara will have many more adventures. Lastly, I received a copy of this book from the publishers, via NetGalley, for review.
The Winter Garden is a fantastic book with great pace and a superb flow of almost individual story lines that combine and build into a bigger picture just like tributaries such as the rivers Spree and the Havel ultimately merging into the Elbe.
This fantastic author takes us on a journey through 1937 Germany using wonderfully powerful characters, eloquently described locations and a deft mix of history.
I am eagerly awaiting the third Clara Vine book.
The beginning was rather a surprise and the exactly right setting for this novel. The idea of having the female lead (Clara Vine) as an undercover spy who is for all intense and purposes a German actress was inspired and shows some of the glamour of the time. Throughout the course of the novel the author mixes real life people, or rather the Nazi elite, with the female lead and her world. In her role as cinema star she is expected to attend some parties held by these elite and even encounters the two Mitford sisters and the honeymooning Duke of Windsor and Wallis Simpson. These parties allow Clara to glean information for the British by listening in on the elite’s conversations.
The supposed main focus of the book took ages to come to the fore. And Clara did very little of the investigating apart from being given the victims last possession. It seemed to this reader that the author was more concerned with the historical aspects than the investigating aspects. Even when we are suddenly introduced to Mary there is still little investigation done.
Who exactly is Mary and what is her relation to Clara? She just suddenly appears. It is highly possible that this character was introduced in the previous book as there was very little told about her in this particular novel. Another person show suddenly appears without any formal introduction was Clara’s godson/son who she constantly tells us she loves. I found that he had few redeeming qualities and was more a puppet showing the effects of the Hitler Youth movement more than anything else.
The author could write up a storm making the reader feel the desolation and despair of the people living in Berlin at the beginning of Hitler’s rule just before the outbreak of World War II. They are trying to get on with their lives under the ever present scrutiny of the Nazis. The descriptions are so real you feel as though you are there too. Yet there were also occurrences where the writing was clunky with the same thoughts being expressed five times within five pages. But this might be a proofing issue.
I loved the premise of this heroine but did we really need to have the romantic elements, especially when the British agent felt as though he was put in the pages at the last possible moment. I personally fell for the German suitor who had more depth to him. Suppose though the British agent was added so that the author had something to tie this book to the next one in the series. But surely the strength of the female lead should be enough to do that.
This reader thought that the author spent too much time telling the reader what they should think and feel rather than allowing the reader to work things out for themselves. Perhaps this reader’s experience of this book would have been enhanced having started with the first book where the background information obviously is not only for this character but also for some of the lesser characters. That said, if you like factually based historical mystery novels this book may well be right up your alley.