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4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1 out of 5 stars
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 26 September 2014
My, this is a wasted opportunity. Inverting the conventional masculinised view of Nazi Germany, this focuses on the wives and girlfriends of the elite inner circle, and their infiltration by half-English, half-German Clara. The problem is, very little happens for most of the book as the narrative stalls on endless back-stories, lush descriptions of interiors, exactly what everyone is wearing, the make-up they carry around and so on - almost a parody of the sex-`n'-shopping novel.

More pertinently, this takes an extremely simplistic view of German fascism, one completely controlled, in anachronistic fashion, by our view rather than that of 1933: so Clara hates the Nazis, gets shivers when she's close to them, feels the hairs rise on the back of her neck etc... when almost all the other women in the book (and let's not forget the real-life Mitford sisters, for example) dote on them, especially Hitler. This is, after all, a time when Churchill and his wife were socialising with fascist leaders, when plenty of Britons approved of Hitler's ideas, when even the British embassy characters in the book admit they don't know what the Nazi thinking is which is precisely why they want Clara to get friendly with the wives in the first place - but she is like one of us, pushed back in time but with the benefit of historical hindsight - a failure of imagination on the part of the author.

I loved Thynne's Patrimony for its subtle and complex approach towards WW1 and the concept of heroism. This book couldn't be more different as it oversimplifies and paints everyone in black or white colours. Portraying the Nazi elite as a group of ruthless and one-dimensional thugs flattens the true horror of fascism which is precisely that many of the party elite were extremely well-educated, vastly intelligent and cultured men - and, yet, still did what they did. By demonising them as merely straightforward and undemanding bullies and brutes, I found this book both disrespectful (though I'm sure unintentionally) and distasteful.

There's a really good idea at the heart of this book about the Nazi back-to-the-home (`kinder, küche, kirche') view of women and how the party wives responded, but the treatment here just feels trivialising and anachronistic.
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on 20 September 2014
This is a really great book, I bought it as a safe bet from the Amazon kindle deal of the day and have been thoroughly impressed with it, the best fiction book I have read in a long time.

I found the whole book to be rewarding and entertaining but those final few chapters were real page turners! I was late back from lunch on a couple of occasions and the very end of the book actually had my heart rate pumping a little faster.

I have already purchased the following book and look forward to it immensely.

Absolutely fantastic.
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on 5 March 2017
Good Read
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on 31 May 2017
Interesting to read about living in Berlin in the early 1930's. Having read the authors note it would appear to be an accurate account.
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on 17 May 2013
I was already biassed in favour of Black Roses before I even started reading as this is a period of history (including up to the end of World War II) that I find utterly fascinating. I wasn't disappointed and raced through this first volume, enjoying every word of it. As another reviewer has said, it does help if you know something about the background of the rise of the Nazi party in Germany, and also a little about varying British attitudes towards Hitler and his henchmen. Clara Vine is the story's heroine, an upper-class girl who is determined to be an actress. She heads for the Berlin film studios on the recommendation of a friend, and quickly becomes involved with Magda Goebbels. The fact that Clara's aristocratic father back home in England is a well-known Fascist sympathiser gives her some cachet in Nazi Berlin. Clara also meets Leo, a British Intelligence agent, and he immediately recruits her as a spy on learning of her intimacy with Goebbels' wife.
It's difficult setting up the first volume of a series as there are always loose ends and what seems like too many characters (who will presumably become more important in the sequels), but that didn't spoil my enjoyment. The book isn't without its faults, though. For instance, I found Clara's discovery of her true origins a little too pat and frankly unbelievable. But I enjoyed it so much, I'm still giving it five stars.
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Black Rose written by Jane Thynne for me was a fantastic read which I thoroughly enjoyed from page one. For me this book was a great insight into pre-war Berlin during the year of 1933 when Hitler is coming into power and his followers were helping him rule Germany with a fist of controlling iron which was constantly laced not only with control but with pure evil.
When we first meet Clara Vine the main character of this brilliant book she is standing over the body of a young woman, and this is when the story begins as we are brought into the life of Clara as she gets to know the real Berlin which is ruled by the Gestapo and the followers of Hitler.
Clara Vine was a wonderful character who from page one you could see how the author made her a girl with great strength which she kept hidden from those around her though when tested she only did what she knew was right. I was soon captivated by Clara as I followed her story as she runs to Germany to fulfill her dream of being an actress not realising she will soon have to use her acting skills to save her own life. Her own father was a well known politician who held Nazi sympathies back in England therefore it was her father's fame which brought Clara straight into the midst of those who led Germany. Their power meant nothing to Clara but she soon realised the true power which they did hold was the power of saying who lived or who died. Throughout the book the action spilled out of the pages and I was entertained from beginning to end.
What made this book really special was that the author used actual characters who played a role in the history of Berlin and used historical facts to really make this book not only a brilliant work of fiction but one where I learned about how those in power through the pre-war years showed that their word was law. Hitler and his power was evident within this book and the more I know of him I thank those that fought against him to keep him from power which he selfishly clung unto throughout his time in history. For me this book had an unique angle as we seen the German power not only from the heads of the country but also we seen what power the wives held within their hands which was so much more than I could have ever imagined. Even through clothes the power of Nazi Germany was held and it was a fascinating way how the author opened up this time in history to her readers.
This for me is a book which I would happily recommend to those who enjoy reading historical fiction, but for me this book had so much more.
Black Rose written by Jane Thyme is filled with not only constant action but characters who mattered to the story and made the book an extra special read.
I learned so much from reading this book and I was straight into the next book in the series as I wanted to know more about the wonderful character of Clara Vine and her many associates from all walks of life. This was a fascinating read for so many reasons which for me makes it so easy to highly recommend Black Roses written by Jane Thyme as a great read.
This is actually a first book in the series and the full series is as follows.
1. Black Roses
2. The Winter Garden
3. A War of Flowers
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on 31 March 2017
Well written and atmospheric, this offering captures the historic period in Germany in 1933, when the Nazis had just ascended to power. The story centres around Clara Vine, a beautiful, British aspiring actress, who arrives in Germany to work in the film industry. Before long, Clara finds herself immersed into political intrigue as she inadvertently becomes involved with the wife of a high ranking Nazi official, who asks her to model the Fuhrer's designs of unfeminine, German women attire. Soon, she finds herself in the company of a British intelligence agent and a high German official, who intends to conquer her, one way or another. It is the beginning of a captivating story, intriguing, vivid and suspenseful to the very end. Will definitely want to read the other books that follow, based on the same period.
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on 25 September 2014
A slow starter, well written but worth persevering with. Oh, those decadent Germans!
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on 14 June 2015
I like a good book. The history was perfect here - maybe a bit too perfect. The story predictable. Too perfect a novel. I read it reluctantly. It was just OK
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It is 1933 and we are in Berlin; Hitler has recently been appointed Chancellor; the Reichstag have effectively voted democracy out of existence; certain sections of society fear arrest and imprisonment; people in the streets look anxiously over their shoulders, worried by who might be watching or listening. Into this uneasy setting, arrives stage actress, Clara Vine, an attractive, ambitious and determined young woman from England, who has set her heart on becoming a film actress. Arriving at the famous Ufa Studios, Clara finds that her contact, Max Townsend, whom, she was led to believe might consider her for a part in his new film 'Black Roses', has suddenly left Berlin.

Left high and dry and wondering what to do next, Clara meets Helga Schmidt, a dancer and actress who is struggling to make enough money to support herself and her young son. Out one evening with Helga, Clara meets Sturmhauptfuhrer Klaus Muller, who lets Clara know that he is very attracted to her and Clara, not wishing to offend a Nazi officer and realising that he could be of help to her, agrees to spend some time with him. And it is through Klaus Muller that Clara subsequently becomes involved with a group of Nazi officers and their wives, most notably, Magda Goebbels, wife of Joseph Goebbels, Minister for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda. Summoned to the Goebbels' home by Magda, Clara finds herself agreeing to become a model for the Deutsches Modeamt, the German Fashion Institute instigated by Hitler in an attempt to control every facet of German women's lives, including the clothes they wear - and through her involvement with the Deutsches Modeamt, Clara also comes into contact with Annelies von Ribbentrop and Goering's mistress, Emmy Sonnemann.

Meanwhile, Leo Quinn, working undercover for British Intelligence, is introduced to Clara by a mutual acquaintance and, discovering her link to Magda Goebbels, he cannot resist trying to persuade her to share with him any information that Clara, who is fluent in German, is able to gather. At first Clara is reluctant to become involved, but when she discovers something from her past which deeply affects her present life, she decides to consider Leo's proposal. But then Magda Goebbels, whom Clara can see is not happy in her marriage, reveals an astonishing secret to Clara and then asks for her help which, if given, will involve Clara in yet more clandestine activity, and possibly put her own life in danger. But what does Clara decide to do?

Jane Thynne who, on her website, tells us she has always been fascinated by the Nazi wives and feels that women are the hidden half of history, has deftly combined historical fact with an inventive imagination to create an atmospheric rendition of Berlin in the 1930s in this, her fourth novel. You may be thinking from the synopsis on the very attractive cover of this book that the story appears a little far-fetched, and it is, in places - however, the author has researched her subject well and, if you know anything about Magda Goebbels, you will know that her life story reads almost like a fairytale - and a very grim fairytale at that. You might also when you start reading, ask yourself why Magda and the other characters in the story trust Clara and allow her into their inner circle - but, as you read on, you will discover why. Interestingly this novel is the first in a planned series of novels featuring Clara Vine - I wonder where the next story will take us.

4 Stars.
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