The Ambassador’s Daughter

Jenoff has a number of books to her credit, many of them set in the WWII period. I have not read any of her others but was drawn to this one because it was set in Paris at the end of the Great War.

The lead character is Margot Rosenthal, daughter of Professor Rosenthal. The Professor had been invited for a year of teaching at Cambridge in 1914. When war broke out, he and Margot could not get home to Berlin. When the armistice ended the killing, the Professor received an urgent message from his brother that he wanted him in Paris to represent their interests and the interest of Germany.

Margot, multi-lingual and well educated, made friends with a Polish woman, Krysia who encouraged her to use her skills to bring peace to war-torn Europe. When the German delegates arrived, Margot became enamored with the navel captain, Georg.

There are several layers to this story, with Margot in all of them like the victim in a spider web. With all her education, she had trouble thinking of herself as a capable person. At age 20, living in the confines of social norms of the day, she could not see her way out of becoming someone’s wife.

This is a coming of age story, a love story, a slice of history story, and a societal changing story. The writing is excellent, even with Margot doubting herself at every turn.

Jenoff credits this book as the prequel to her earlier books, The Kommandant’s Girl and The Diplomat’s Wife.

Mike Lawrence

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