Book Review: My Dearest Dietrich

17 Jul

A staggering love illuminating the dark corners of a Nazi prison

Renowned German pastor and theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer is famous for his resistance to the Nazi regime and for his allegiance to God over government. But what few realize is that the last years of his life also held a love story that rivals any romance novel.

Maria von Wedemeyer knows the realities of war. Her beloved father and brother have both been killed on the battlefield. The last thing this spirited young woman needs is to fall for a man under constant surveillance by the Gestapo. How can she give another piece of her heart to a man so likely to share the same final fate? Yet when Dietrich Bonhoeffer, an old family friend, comes to comfort the von Wedemeyers after their losses, she discovers that love isn’t always logical.

Dietrich himself has determined to keep his distance from romantic attachments. There is too much work to be done for God, and his involvement in the conspiracy is far too important. But when he encounters a woman whose intelligence and conviction match his own, he’s unprepared for how easy it is to give away his heart.

With their deep love comes risk — and neither Dietrich nor Maria is prepared for just how great that risk soon becomes.

Based on detailed historical research, this true love story is at once beautiful and heartrending. My Dearest Dietrich sheds new light on a world-famous theologian . . . and the woman who changed his life.

ECPA best-selling author Amanda Barratt fell in love with writing in grade school when she wrote her first story — a spinoff of Jane Eyre. Now, Amanda writes romantic, historical novels and novellas, penning stories of beauty and brokenness set against the backdrop of bygone eras not so very different from our own.

She’s also the author of My Heart Belongs in Niagara Falls, New York: Adele’s Journey, as well as seven novellas with Barbour Publishing. Two of her novellas have been finalists in the FHL Reader’s Choice Awards.

Amanda lives in the woods of Michigan with her fabulous family, where she can be found reading way too many books, plotting her next novel, and jotting down imaginary travel itineraries for her dream vacation to Europe.

Connect with her on Facebook and visit her online at amandabarratt.net.

 

My Impressions:

Biographical fiction is a hard genre to master. You have to be true to your subject, yet present it in a creative and fresh way that will appeal to readers. Amanda Barratt took on a tough task when deciding to write a book featuring esteemed theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Her newest book, My Dearest Dietrich, captures the man that many did not know existed. An intimate look at the relationship between Bonhoeffer and his fiancee, Maria von Wedemeyer, this novel reminds the reader of the lives and loves that exist even during the turmoil of war. I really liked this book, yet have a hard time articulating how it touched my heart. It is definitely a highly recommended read.

Before starting My Dearest Dietrich, I had only Bonhoeffer’s writings on the Christian life as a frame of reference. Barratt drew on those writings, plus the correspondence between Bonhoeffer and Maria, as well as other letters, to flesh out the man he truly was. Known as a brilliant theologian, a spy and conspirator determined to bring down Hitler, and an ultimate martyr to the cause, Bonhoeffer could be seen as larger than life. Barratt’s portrayal combines those elements with a heart of love and gentleness — a man who yearns for an ordinary life as husband, just as much as he yearns for a restored Germany. Maria is a young woman whose maturity grows as she faces hardship and heartache. Their story is set amidst the backdrop of cruelty and terror, yet it is the novel’s depiction of the mundane that allows the reader to see a blossoming relationship growing even in the hardest of times. There is a sense of hope in that. God was central to Maria and Dietrich’s lives, and their belief in Him determined their day-to-day decisions as well as their defiance of the Nazi regime. The book begins slowly, allowing the reader to see just what the characters are made of. Towards the end, the tension of the end of the war and the certain end of many of the characters’ lives made me read faster and faster. There are so many what-ifs the book brings to mind — what-if the conspiracy had been successful, what-if Bonhoeffer had not been discovered, what-if the Allies advancement on Berlin had been swifter. While I had a sense of sadness for Bonhoeffer and Maria, I am glad that I was given a small glimpse into their lives. Truly heroic, they serve as wonderful examples of lives devoted to each other, as well as Christ.

My Dearest Dietrich is perfect for book discussion groups. There is so, so much to talk about — a Christian’s role in civic affairs, the appropriateness of rebellion against authority, the importance of placing God’s values and laws above society’s — are just a few. But I believe it is the bittersweet love of Maria and Dietrich that will capture the reader’s heart. Grab a few friends to read this book with.

Highly Recommended.

Audience: adults.

To purchase, click HERE.

(Thanks to Kregel and the author for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

5 Responses to “Book Review: My Dearest Dietrich”

  1. thepowerofwords2016 July 17, 2019 at 1:54 pm #

    Beckie, this just might be the best review you’ve ever written! Seriously, you expressed what I’m sure is the essence and heart of this story that I haven’t read yet. Actually, I’ve kind of been holding back because I have a hard time with this time period, plus I’m well aware of the outcome. Yet I’m inexplicably drawn to it. I’ve got some gaps in my commitments coming up, so I can hopefully get to it soon.

    Stay as cool as possible in south Georgia and enjoy the mountains as much as you can, Beckie! Personally, I’m ready for fall. My daughter and her husband are moving from the Chicago area to Johnson City, TN, which thrills me no end. She’s beginning a new leadership position at Emmanuel Christian Seminary, from which she graduated ten years ago, and her husband will be teaching some at nearby Milligan College.

    Liked by 1 person

    • rbclibrary July 17, 2019 at 2:10 pm #

      Thanks so much, Carole. You are such an encouragement to me. And what wonderful news. So great your daughter and family will be closer. It is hot here, but the mountains are calling ….

      Like

  2. bellesmoma16 July 17, 2019 at 10:38 pm #

    Such an excellent review. I’m so ready to read this book now. 🙂

    Like

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