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The Women at Hitler’s Table

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‘A disturbing, powerful and beautifully written novel based on shockingly real events’ Christy Lefteri, author of The Beekeeper of Aleppo The International Bestseller Inspired by the powerful true story of Margot Wölk, this is a heartbreaking and gripping historical novel for fans of The Tattooist of Auschwitz and The Beekeeper of Aleppo East Prussia, 1943. Hitler hides ‘A disturbing, powerful and beautifully written novel based on shockingly real events’ Christy Lefteri, author of The Beekeeper of Aleppo The International Bestseller Inspired by the powerful true story of Margot Wölk, this is a heartbreaking and gripping historical novel for fans of The Tattooist of Auschwitz and The Beekeeper of Aleppo East Prussia, 1943. Hitler hides away in the Wolfsshanze – his hidden headquarters. The tide is turning in the war and his enemies circle ever closer. Ten women are chosen. Ten women to taste his food and protect him from poison.Twenty-six-year-old Rosa has lost everything to this war. Her parents are dead. Her husband is fighting on the front line. Alone and scared, she faces the SS with nothing but the knowledge every bite might be her last.   Caught on the wrong side of history, how far is Rosa willing to go to survive?


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‘A disturbing, powerful and beautifully written novel based on shockingly real events’ Christy Lefteri, author of The Beekeeper of Aleppo The International Bestseller Inspired by the powerful true story of Margot Wölk, this is a heartbreaking and gripping historical novel for fans of The Tattooist of Auschwitz and The Beekeeper of Aleppo East Prussia, 1943. Hitler hides ‘A disturbing, powerful and beautifully written novel based on shockingly real events’ Christy Lefteri, author of The Beekeeper of Aleppo The International Bestseller Inspired by the powerful true story of Margot Wölk, this is a heartbreaking and gripping historical novel for fans of The Tattooist of Auschwitz and The Beekeeper of Aleppo East Prussia, 1943. Hitler hides away in the Wolfsshanze – his hidden headquarters. The tide is turning in the war and his enemies circle ever closer. Ten women are chosen. Ten women to taste his food and protect him from poison.Twenty-six-year-old Rosa has lost everything to this war. Her parents are dead. Her husband is fighting on the front line. Alone and scared, she faces the SS with nothing but the knowledge every bite might be her last.   Caught on the wrong side of history, how far is Rosa willing to go to survive?

30 review for The Women at Hitler’s Table

  1. 4 out of 5

    Maureen

    During WWII there were many people who wanted to put an end to Hitler’s reign of terror, and as the tide began to turn against him in 1943, those tasked with keeping him safe had to come up with every conceivable plan to ensure his continued leadership. With this in mind, every method by which his assassination could be carried out had to be covered. This included ten women who were employed as Hitler’s food tasters, and this novel is loosely based on Margot Wölk who died at the age of 96, short During WWII there were many people who wanted to put an end to Hitler’s reign of terror, and as the tide began to turn against him in 1943, those tasked with keeping him safe had to come up with every conceivable plan to ensure his continued leadership. With this in mind, every method by which his assassination could be carried out had to be covered. This included ten women who were employed as Hitler’s food tasters, and this novel is loosely based on Margot Wölk who died at the age of 96, shortly after revealing her part in serving Hitler as one of his food tasters. Three times a day these women were forced to consume meals prepared for the Fuhrer to ensure that the food hadn’t been poisoned - too bad for these women if it had been - each bite could have been their last! One can only imagine the fear that these women endured. On the one hand they were being fed delicious food, when others in their community were starving, but that sustenance could also have been their killer. The storyline concentrated on food taster 26 year old Rosa, she’s very much a loner, both her parents are dead and her husband Gregor is fighting on the front line, and she’s now living with Gregor’s parents. Rosa is a deep thinking, emotionally flawed character with whom I sadly failed to connect. I couldn’t resolve myself with some of the decisions she made, and although I realise that these were extremely difficult times and choices were limited, she came across as very cold and distant, and on finishing the book, I felt I knew little more about her than I had at the beginning. Even though I didn’t engage with the protagonist, I do think the novel was interesting and beautifully written, almost quiet and subdued in its style - the author said what she had to without great fanfare. *Thank you to Netgalley and HarperCollins for my ARC. I have given an honest unbiased review in exchange *

  2. 5 out of 5

    Paromjit

    Rosella Postorino writes an impressively researched blend of historical fact and fiction in this translated novel, already an Italian bestseller. It is inspired by the late in life interview and revelations of Margot Wolk of her unusual wartime role as a food taster for Hitler. In 1943, it was becoming increasingly clear that Germany were unlikely to win the war, Hitler was feeling increasingly hemmed in and paranoid with his growing number of enemies, living in his hidden, secure and well guard Rosella Postorino writes an impressively researched blend of historical fact and fiction in this translated novel, already an Italian bestseller. It is inspired by the late in life interview and revelations of Margot Wolk of her unusual wartime role as a food taster for Hitler. In 1943, it was becoming increasingly clear that Germany were unlikely to win the war, Hitler was feeling increasingly hemmed in and paranoid with his growing number of enemies, living in his hidden, secure and well guarded headquarters at Wolfschanze (Wolf's Lair). With her parents dead, 26 year old Rosa Sauer escapes the Allied bombardment of Berlin, to her husband, Gregor's parents more rural abode, where she stands out like a sore thumb as a urban dweller. However, safety is the last thing she gets when she is recruited by the SS to be part of a group of women who are to taste all Hitler's meals to ensure he does not get poisoned, whilst under the gaze of the well armed soldiers. There is an inherent contradiction in Rosa's role, on the one hand she eats well in comparison to other Germans facing starvation, but on the other hand, there is the fear of living under constant threat, of playing a version of Russian roulette, where each meal may be her last one. She is not a member of the Nazi party, but she is playing the role of collaborator in ensuring that Hitler continues to live. She faces a number of moral dilemmas, but has chosen to do whatever it takes to survive, selecting to remain blind and ignorant to what has been happening under Nazi rule and the horrors perpetrated by them. Insights are provided into the group of women tasters, the simmering conflicts, strains and tensions between the regime loyalists and those who are more critical, the abuse the women face and the relationships that are formed between them. This is a story of guilt, shame, love, fear and secrets, of what life was like for many ordinary Germans, the difficulties of speaking out, the moral ambiguities of being at war, and the repercussions of WW2 on those who survived. Rosa can be a hard woman to empathise with, her emotional coldness and distance, and her decisions and behaviour hard to understand. This is a dark, disturbing and unsettling read, an uncomfortable rendering of how human beings can behave when living under the pressures of war, where the unacceptable becomes all too normal, under a murderous, heavily controlling, Nazi regime. This is a beautifully written novel, but an uneven read which paints a intensely chilling picture of WW2 and its fallout. Many thanks to HarperCollins for an ARC.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Will Byrnes

    Fear comes to me three times a day, always without knocking. It sits beside me and if I stand up it follows me, by now it’s practically a constant companion. World War II. Death could arrive at any moment, particularly when your city is being targeted by enemy bombers. In a way, a sudden violent end becomes the expectation. One to be avoided if at all possible, of course. Rosa Sauer flees the Allied bombing of Berlin in Autumn 1943. Though married, her husband had joined the army. Sh Fear comes to me three times a day, always without knocking. It sits beside me and if I stand up it follows me, by now it’s practically a constant companion. World War II. Death could arrive at any moment, particularly when your city is being targeted by enemy bombers. In a way, a sudden violent end becomes the expectation. One to be avoided if at all possible, of course. Rosa Sauer flees the Allied bombing of Berlin in Autumn 1943. Though married, her husband had joined the army. She goes to stay with her in-laws in the town of East Partsch, in East Prussia. But, in a classic case of out-of-the-frying-pan-into-the-fire, she finds herself in a situation every bit as perilous as the threat she had fled. Soon after her arrival, members of the SS arrive at her in-laws’ house and inform Rosa that she has been selected to serve her country in a most unusual manner. It seems the Fuehrer’s base of operations (Wolfsschanze, aka The Wolf’s Lair, now Parcz, Poland) is only a few miles away, and, among his other psychiatric challenges, he is terrified that his food might be poisoned. (Well, maybe not so crazy about fearing assassination) She will be one of fifteen young women drafted to become Hitler’s food tasters. The upside, of course, is that she will be eating much better than most Germans. The downside is well…you know. Rosella Postorino - image from Globalist In the beginning, the story alternates between her experience as a taster and the time immediately leading up to that. We get a look at Rosa’s personal history, and some of the events in Germany. There is a dark tale of 1933 book burnings led by Goebbels that seemed even a bit much for his own followers. It is particularly chilling. Most of the story is about the interactions among the women forced into this job. (Guess all the men were too scared?) They run a gamut, with a few Hitlerian true believers among the more usual range of humanity represented there, telling dark, racist tales that the eagerly gullible relish as wantonly as fans of InfoWars do today, with about as much basis in reality. There are perils this forced sisterhood face together, including mistreatment by the guards, and being forced to remain in the facility all the time instead of being bussed back and forth between home and work, after a failed assassination attempt on you-know-who. We learn some of the tasters’ secrets, and see their relationships evolve with the impact of shared misery. Rosa becomes friends with one taster who is shielding a particularly large piece of information. When she is generous with a younger taster the others give her a hard time about it, as if generosity were somehow a sign of weakness. Their relationships with the guards get complicated. Are they on the same team? Or are they prisoners? There is considerable sexual tension, as well. During the time when the tasters are still able to live outside the compound, Rosa is befriended by a local Baroness, eager for conversation with an educated, if untitled, woman from Berlin. Attending gatherings at the Baroness’s place comes with complications of its own. And there is the ever-present need to make the most of a bad situation. Margot Wölk at 95 – image from Der Spiegel Rosa is a thoughtful Virgil leading us through this particular ring of hell, offering consideration of underlying moral questions. Why, for some time now, had I found myself in places I didn’t want to be in and acquiesced and didn’t rebel and continued to survive whenever someone was taken from me? The ability to adapt is human beings’ greatest resource, but the more I adapted, the less human I felt. She must cope with the probable loss of her husband, reported MIA. Is he gone? Should she hold out hope or accede to the likelihood of his demise? When push comes to shoot will you find yourself on the flat or pointed end of the bullet? Will you be able to decide for yourself or will you leave it to others to decide for you? I could have known about the mass graves, about the Jews who lay prone, huddled together, waiting for the shot to the back of the head, could have known about the earth shoveled onto their backs, and the wood ash and calcium hypochlorite so they wouldn’t stink, about the new layer of Jews who would lie down on the corpses and offer the backs of their heads in turn. I could have known about the children picked up by the hair and shot, about the kilometer-long lines of Jews or Russians—They’re Asian, they’re not like us--ready to fall into the graves or climb onto trucks to be gassed with carbon monoxide. I could have learned about it before the end of the war. I could have asked. I but I was afraid and couldn’t speak and didn’t want to know. Pastorino offers up some darkly comical tidbits about the not-so-fearless leader, including reference to his considerable problem with flatulence, (I can only imagine what Mel Brooks would have done with that) being afraid to go to sleep, becoming a vegetarian after visiting a slaughterhouse, keeping his aides up all night regaling them with stories, the late nights rich with Hitler humiliating his staff at length, which sounds uncomfortably familiar. They appeared to enjoy being the focus of his dark attention, like sycophants today. We learn that Eva Braun hated Blondi, the singing German Shepherd that Adolph doted on. And for all you white nationalists out there, you will also learn the proper way to deliver a Nazi salute. Margot Wölk is the actual person on whom Rosa Sauer was based. Wölk was interviewed on the occasion of her 95th birthday, in 2012. (links in EXTRA STUFF). Postorino happened cross the article in 2014 and thought it ideal subject matter for a novel, throwing together issues of daily mortal terror, sacrifice, adaptation, destiny, love, survival and guilt. Trying to relate to this person, whose life was so different from her own, Postorino gave her characteristics of herself, a particular appreciation for clothes, vanity, chattiness, her hair color and her name. Margot Wölk in 1931 – image from BZ-Berlin Another novel about Frau Wölk, by V.S Alexander, The Taster, was published in the USA in 2018, a few weeks after Postorino’s book was published in Italy. Alexander’s book was released later in the UK under the title Her Hidden Life. A weird coincidence, but it seems likely that both were inspired by the same late-life revelations by Frau Wölk. At the Wolf’s Table, originally published in 2018 in Italy, was a big hit there, winning the Premio Campiello Literary Prize. The translation by Leah Janeczko is smooth. It reads as if written by an English speaker. My only gripe about the novel is that I found the romantic element less than persuasive. The strength of this novel is in giving us a character we can feel for, trying to survive in a time and place in which one’s continued existence could not be presumed from day to day. She is an intelligent, feeling person, who considers more than just the usual externalities, but offers an awareness of larger, deeper considerations. It also gives us a look at a little-seen aspect of Nazi Germany, a rare item indeed. And finally, it presents perspective (while written by an Italian) from a regular-person German, neither Nazi nor resistor. Postorino has served up a filling and delicious meal of a novel. Bon Appetit. Review posted – February 1, 2019 Publication date -----USA – January 29, 2019 -----Italy – January 11, 2018 =============================EXTRA STUFF Links to the author’s GR, Twitter, Instagram and FB pages Items of Interest -----Polpettas Magazine - In Conversation with Rosella Postorino - by Margherita Visentini - a very worthwhile interview with the author, despite a less than perfect translation from Italian -----Reading Group Guide -----Revolvy - a bio of Margot Wölk - with some detail on her pre-taster life -----Spiegel Online - Hitler’s Food Taster: One Bite Away from Death - by Fabienne Hurst -----NY Times - What if the Powerful (and Paranoid) Started Using Official Tasters Again? - by Ligaya Mishan -----Wiki on The Wolf’s Lair -----Triumph of the Will - Although I had seen clips of this, I had never seen the entire film. Have now. The tasters, among others, are made to sit through it while at the compound. Remarkable film-making. What a waste of talent in promoting such a dark cause.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Elyse Walters

    Thank you to Flatiron Books for mailing me the advance copy of “At The Wolf’s Table” by the international best selling author: *Rosella Postorino*. This book was selling like hot cakes in Italy when it was first released- and soon Postorino was one of five nominees for the literature Campiello Prize. THIS BOOK WILL BE RELEASED IN STORES IN THE U.S. in January 2019. Rosella is also an editor. She speaks Italian, French, German, and English. This is her first novel translated into English. This is Thank you to Flatiron Books for mailing me the advance copy of “At The Wolf’s Table” by the international best selling author: *Rosella Postorino*. This book was selling like hot cakes in Italy when it was first released- and soon Postorino was one of five nominees for the literature Campiello Prize. THIS BOOK WILL BE RELEASED IN STORES IN THE U.S. in January 2019. Rosella is also an editor. She speaks Italian, French, German, and English. This is her first novel translated into English. This is a story - that in ‘part’, I was familiar with from having read “The Taster”, by V.S. Alexander last year. Both books - historical fiction - are haunting - chilling - hard to image yet ‘was’ imaginable from both author’s vivid storytelling. I learned ‘more’ fascinating information from THIS BOOK than ‘The Taster’.... yet both books are absorbing and well-researched. I’ll soon explain the ‘more’ ...... But first I to comment on Rosella Postorino’s writing....which is so intimate, I can almost image that she’s a painter. Her descriptions are simplistic ( I mean that in the most complementary way), so clearly visual, I can see and feel everything she writes easily. Rosella doesn’t waste any time diving into the heart of the story. Perhaps being an ‘editor’ gives her an advantage skill?...I’ve no idea...but her writing was almost invisible. Is that possible? Writers... help me out!!!!! I’m not sure what I’m talking about here — ( a reader...not a writer ).... I just know - her STORY FLOWED EFFORTLESSLY!!! From the first page to the last....I was ‘in-the-zone’.....the readers ZONE!!! The pure joy of reading an interesting story. Kudos to author Postorino. 📕✏️. The ‘MORE’: .......that I learned from reading this book: The inspiration for this story came from the real person named Margot Wölk. Margot died at age 96. She was one of Hitler’s tasters......last SURVIVING taster. In 2014, she told a Berlin TV channel about her experiences - THE FIRST TIME EVER - sharing those devastating years. Later that same year - at age 96 - she died. Rosella Postorino’s story begins in Germany 1943. Rosa Saucer was 26 years old. Her parents were gone and her husband, Gregor, was fighting on the front lines of WWII. Rosa was living in the country with her in-laws. She was a German - but had never been a Nazis. Rosa was one of ten women employed to taste Fuhrer’s food to ensure it had not been poisoned, against her will. “EAT UP —-eat it all. Wait an hour - live or die”. There were constant rumors that the British were out to poison Hitler. The women had plenty of food - ( veggies with either rice or noodles- as Hitler was a vegetarian), but each bite from the women was mixed with fear. They were victims and privileged. They ate to stay alive. They were supporting keeping alive the man everyone wanted dead. Fear - guilt - shame -catatonic - unbearable grief - horror - rape - loss - hunger - secrets - remorse - survival - forgiveness - love .......are some of many reasons why Rosa couldn’t tell even her husband Gregor - when the war ended - that she worked for Hitler ... she couldn’t confessed to her husband that she had trusted and loved a Nazi Lieutenant. “ The past doesn’t go away, but there’s no need to dredge it up, you can try to let it rest, hold your peace. The one thing I’ve learned from life is survival”. ...Written with tenderness and compassion. ...The characters were so real. ...Fascinating and repugnant. ...Margot Woelk’s tells her story: Photos of her - before she died at age 96 - can be found by googling her name.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Travel.with.a.book

    First I want to thank the Publisher of the book Flatiron for providing me with a copy. The book is a must must read because of one of the most powerful story I have personally ever read. I didn't know what the Wolf meant before reading the book I just read the book because of the best selling author Rosella Pastorino. She is the icon of writting excellent and powerful books that stay and make you think for more than a while. The wolf is a nickname for Hitler the book starts with Margot Wölk, the bo First I want to thank the Publisher of the book Flatiron for providing me with a copy. The book is a must must read because of one of the most powerful story I have personally ever read. I didn't know what the Wolf meant before reading the book I just read the book because of the best selling author Rosella Pastorino. She is the icon of writting excellent and powerful books that stay and make you think for more than a while. The wolf is a nickname for Hitler the book starts with Margot Wölk, the book is also written on the true story based on her. I could not believe at first that this happened for real I mean yes the story was just as if someone really experienced it but who would survive such as what Margot experienced and she still had faith in living, I wish no person her fate of live but in the end she was a winner and not her keeper. A story of someone's life being not just controlled but and played with every step she has to deal about all these people who don't care if she lives or dies. It was so hard not to understand but to think and realise that this was her story, she (Margot) was a real hero in that and this time that deserves to be remembered. The author describes the story with so much passion and dosen't hesitate to write such a Masterpiece like "At The Wolf's Table". The book is a 5 star read I'm so glad to have read it even though some parts of the story were so hard to read but as I was told from the story of my mom and dad how they experienced their war time was a remarkable story. I don't want to give too much away from the book because of the unique way that the author describes the story what Margot went through. This is the sample of the book: Germany, 1943: Twenty-six-year-old Rosa Sauer's parents are gone, and her husband Gregor is far away, fighting on the front lines of WWII. Impoverished and alone, she makes the fateful decision to leave war-torn Berlin to live with her in-laws in the countryside, thinking she'll find refuge there. But one morning, the SS come to tell her she has been conscripted to be one of Hitler's tasters: three times a day, she and nine other women go to his secret headquarters, the Wolf's Lair, to eat his meals before he does. Forced to eat what might kill them, the tasters begin to divide into The Fanatics, those loyal to Hitler, and the women like Rosa who insist they aren't Nazis, even as they risk their lives every day for Hitler's. As secrets and resentments grow, this unlikely sisterhood reaches its own dramatic climax. What's more, one of Rosa's SS guards has become dangerously familiar, and the war is worsening outside. As the months pass, it becomes increasingly clear that Rosa and everyone she knows are on the wrong side of history

  6. 4 out of 5

    Ceecee

    The Women at Hitler’s Table is U.K. title This excellent book is based on the true story of Margot Wolk who died in 2014 aged 96, the last of Hitlers poison testers. The central character is Rosa Sauer, the place is Wolfsschanze, the Wolf’s Lair in East Prussia where 10 disparate women become test animals or digestive tracts as Hitlers paranoia extends to concern that his food may be poisoned. Rosa, from Berlin is married to Gregor who is at the front and so she goes to live with his parents in The Women at Hitler’s Table is U.K. title This excellent book is based on the true story of Margot Wolk who died in 2014 aged 96, the last of Hitlers poison testers. The central character is Rosa Sauer, the place is Wolfsschanze, the Wolf’s Lair in East Prussia where 10 disparate women become test animals or digestive tracts as Hitlers paranoia extends to concern that his food may be poisoned. Rosa, from Berlin is married to Gregor who is at the front and so she goes to live with his parents in E Prussia, her own being dead. There she is rounded up to become a taster. Rosa tells her story from her early life in Berlin where Germans were licking their defeated war wounds and suffering from the revengeful Treaty of Versailles through to hyperinflation and the rise of Hitler and then to the war years and defeat. Rosa makes it clear she is not a Nazi but yet the war makes her collaborative through force but she even becomes the lover of an SS Officer and that is choice. The story is so well told with the writing flowing extremely well. The style is simplistic but it works very well as it matches what Rosa is reporting. Part of the story is told through food and we learn a lot of things I probably rather wouldn’t about Hitlers digestive tract. Some of the women are ardent Hitler supporters, they see him as the messiah and would marry him if they could - the group called them The Fanatics. Ardent and fanatical Nazism is well described and the novel weaves real events and real people into the narrative. For example, Rosa meets Claus von Stauffenberg and his plot to kill Hitler is included. A few of the girls like Rosa are there because they are forced to be and they go through the motions in order to survive. Some of these women support each other through the hardships. Rosa’s personality is changed by her experiences and when her husband goes missing from the Eastern Front and is presumed dead, she becomes very detached, feels nothing and cares little if she lives or dies. I think that there are many occasions when Rosa buries her head in the sand, preferring not to know the truth of what is going on, she shuts down and never asks questions, preferring ignorance. I found this hard although I know it’s true and I felt a real jolt when she talks of dictatorship and how they had no alternative, which becomes her alibi. She, like many others, sleep walk through these years for a variety of reasons. There are many things I admired about this book. I found it very easy to read and horribly fascinating. However, I am uncertain about the final part and the jump in time to 1990. Although this section did tie up some loose ends I think the writing in this section is not as effortless as the rest. I do understand Rosa’s motives for survival lie in letting things rest and I’m certain that is how many went on to cope post 1945. Overall, I think this is an excellent book and I’m glad I got the chance to read it. Many thanks to Harper Collins for the chance to read this book.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Natasha Niezgoda

    3.5 stars, rounded down. Didn't follow-through with what was promised. Let’s talk about the pace of this book first. It was a slow start. It took me 140 pages (all of Part 1 and the beginning of Part 2) to emotionally connect with Rosa. Given that the book is only 275 pages, that’s a significant amount of time spent on building Rosa’s moral struggle without being exposed to it. I’m not sure how to describe the content of this book. It narrates the victimhood of members within the Third Reich, bu 3.5 stars, rounded down. Didn't follow-through with what was promised. Let’s talk about the pace of this book first. It was a slow start. It took me 140 pages (all of Part 1 and the beginning of Part 2) to emotionally connect with Rosa. Given that the book is only 275 pages, that’s a significant amount of time spent on building Rosa’s moral struggle without being exposed to it. I’m not sure how to describe the content of this book. It narrates the victimhood of members within the Third Reich, but never truly exposes the darkness of it. Maybe that’s what’s bothersome - the fear and isolation of being caught in this profound moral dilemma are held at arm’s length. Postorino never fully delves into it. And though her writing is so lyrical and vivid that you can quite literally picture the scene she’s depicting, you can’t attune your emotions to match. Rosa struggles with her disassociation from humanity. She’s too fearful to stand up for what is right, and then condemns those who do the same. It’s a horrible paradox - that choosing the right thing is basically choosing death. And yet, to continue living is, in fact, a death of its own. Because one must live with the deep consequence of not making the right decision. Which leads me to the end of the book. I found it a cop-out. It followed the very behavior of Rosa’s cowardice, which was to run away. Part 3 seemed written as an afterthought or by an entirely different author. It didn’t even have the same rhythm as parts 1 and 2. And it lacked any form of wisdom. In fact, it was petty in nature. This is hard. This subject is so pivotal within human history that anything stemming from it can’t be taken casually. I think the perspective was fresh (and I remain respectful to Margot Wolk, whom this was loosely based off of), but the thoroughness lacked. Thank you to Flatiron for the advanced copy.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kerri

    A fascinating novel following a young woman named Rosa Sauer, who is selected to be one of Hitler's food tasters. She and nine other women must eat his meals before he does, then wait to see if the food is poisoned. Throughout the book we get to know the women, some who are absolutely devoted to Hitler and others, like our main character Rosa, who resolutely insist they are not Nazis -- even as they risk their own lives for his, multiple times a day. Not that they have much say in the matter of A fascinating novel following a young woman named Rosa Sauer, who is selected to be one of Hitler's food tasters. She and nine other women must eat his meals before he does, then wait to see if the food is poisoned. Throughout the book we get to know the women, some who are absolutely devoted to Hitler and others, like our main character Rosa, who resolutely insist they are not Nazis -- even as they risk their own lives for his, multiple times a day. Not that they have much say in the matter of course. This was a different perspective to familiar events and one I really valued reading. I loved the ending, the way things were (and weren't) tied up. The final page will stay with me for quite a while I think. The novel was inspired by the true story of Margot Wolk. The author read an article about her and was inspired to write this novel. I'm glad she did, and thankful it was translated into English from the Italian by Leah Janeczko, which allowed me to be able to read it!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Louise Wilson

    Germany WWll. There were plenty of people who wanted Hitler dead. One of the ways they tried to protect their leader was to have women assigned to be food tasters. Hitler was convinced that the British were trying to poison him so he hired 10 women to eat every meal one hour before he did. This book is much more than just food tasting. This is a well researched historical fiction based on war time experiences. The book is based loosely on the real life story of Margot Wolk who was one of Hitlers Germany WWll. There were plenty of people who wanted Hitler dead. One of the ways they tried to protect their leader was to have women assigned to be food tasters. Hitler was convinced that the British were trying to poison him so he hired 10 women to eat every meal one hour before he did. This book is much more than just food tasting. This is a well researched historical fiction based on war time experiences. The book is based loosely on the real life story of Margot Wolk who was one of Hitlers food tasters for several years. As well as tasting the food, they were observed for one hour after they had eaten. This book was originally released in 2017, written in Italian and called At The Wolf's Table. The book has been translated from Italian into English. I would like to thank Netgalley, HarperCollins UK, HarperFiction and the author Rosella Postorino for my ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Blankfein

    For all reviews and recommendations (and links to article and video) please follow me on Book Nation by Jen. https://booknationbyjen.wordpress.com According to Google, “coming together and sharing a meal is the most communal and binding thing in almost every place in the world”. Eating together, and eating at all is usually considered a good thing, but after reading Rosella Postorino’s latest novel you may just change your mind! Based on truth, At the Wolf’s Table is about a group of German women For all reviews and recommendations (and links to article and video) please follow me on Book Nation by Jen. https://booknationbyjen.wordpress.com According to Google, “coming together and sharing a meal is the most communal and binding thing in almost every place in the world”. Eating together, and eating at all is usually considered a good thing, but after reading Rosella Postorino’s latest novel you may just change your mind! Based on truth, At the Wolf’s Table is about a group of German women in 1943 who are recruited by the Nazis to taste Hitler’s food before each meal to ensure it to be poison-free. As food becomes scarce and people are going hungry, these women are shuttled to the “Wolf’s Lair” in the morning to have full breakfasts and early lunches under the scrutiny of armed Nazi soldiers, then returned home and brought back at the end of the day for full dinners. After forcing themselves to fully consume each course they wait for illness to kick in, eating to stay alive and at the same time fearing death. Newly married and all alone, Rosa has lost both her parents, her husband Gregor has gone off to war and she has moved to the country to live with her in laws outside of Berlin. She has been recruited as a food taster for Hitler where she “would participate in the liturgy of the lunchroom together with other young German women- an army of worshippers prepared to receive on (our) tongues a Communion that wouldn’t redeem us.” Rosa tries to make friends with the other tasters but relationships between the women are strained; some of them are Nazi supporters, some are not, and some are hiding something; Jewish roots, affairs, pregnancy, rape, abortion…nobody is sure who to trust. Rosa’s husband is declared missing, and as her loneliness intensifies, she develops a risky relationship with one of the soldiers. Will her husband ever be found? Will she escape the perils of war? At The Wolf’s Lair provides a unique setting that highlights secrets, betrayals and sorrow amidst the constant fear in everyday life during World War ll. I enjoyed this story and recommend it! Here is an article about one of the real food tasters from WWll… http://m.spiegel.de/international/ger... And a video interview… https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=MNcZyBq...

  11. 4 out of 5

    acompassforbooks

    At the Wolf's Table: A Novel by Rosella Postorino is the internationally bestselling novel based on the true story of Margot Wölk (1917-2014). She was a German secretary, who in 1942 was selected with other 14 women to taste Adolf Hitler’s food in case it were poisoned. Only many years later Margot Wölk, sole survivor of the group of tasters after the Second World War decides to publicly tell her story. She is 95 years old, and she reveals her truth only two years before dying in 2014. Hers is i At the Wolf's Table: A Novel by Rosella Postorino is the internationally bestselling novel based on the true story of Margot Wölk (1917-2014). She was a German secretary, who in 1942 was selected with other 14 women to taste Adolf Hitler’s food in case it were poisoned. Only many years later Margot Wölk, sole survivor of the group of tasters after the Second World War decides to publicly tell her story. She is 95 years old, and she reveals her truth only two years before dying in 2014. Hers is indeed an extremely hard story to tell and to live. 
It is the story of a group of women in an ambiguous situation: on the one hand they have the privilege to eat delightful and abundant dishes in a period of food shortage but, on the other hand, they are forced to risk their life every day feeling guilty as they were indirectly fostering Hitler hence Nazism. The book explores some of the author’s favourite themes: the ambiguity of human instincts, the thin border between the victim and the perpetrator, coercion, the effects of totalitarian organisations on people. 
However setting the story during the Holocaust - one of the darkest period in human history that caused 17 million of people, among which 6 million of Jews - that shook profoundly the pillars of collective unconscious, makes the words of the book go deeply down to the subconscious. They echo in that confuse zone where the emotional and instinctual drives of human experience are released from personality and consequences to enter a dark place like a black hole: a singularity of evil. 
Rosela Postorino tries to go there, though always keeping a tight control over darkness. She tells the story by the tasters’ perspective which is original yet dangerous as it is that of the perpetrators, or better of those who join them in order to survive. Therefore, at the beginning of the reading one is struck by a particular and almost uncomfortable impression; a kind of disturbing guilt mixed with indignation so that one may be willing to yell at Postorino’s antiheroine: “Rosa please do something, run away, rebel to this! How can you stand tasting food to safeguard the evil man the rest of the world is trying to kill?” 
Then the moment she starts a love affair with an SS capitan, it seems way too much and one wonders how such a conduct may get along with the sensitivity and humanity Postorino endowed  her main character with. We may take into consideration the effects of the Stockholm syndrome, a condition that causes victims to develop a psychological and affective alliance with their perpetrators, but this does not offer an exhausting explanation for a morbid love affair. This personality discrepancy creates a tension that makes the novel a page-turner as one is eager to find a reason for these contrasts. However, we do know that once the borders of morals are crossed, people’s motivations are hardly explicable through logic. They instead result soaked in an emotional promiscuity that weighs them down just before make them elusively disappear. 
Then we may turn to the work of Hanna Arendt, the German philosopher naturalised as American citizen and in particular to her 1963 book Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil. It reports on Adolf Eichmann's trial for The New Yorker. He was a German Nazi SS lieutenant colonel and one of the major organizers of the Holocaust. The book offers an insightful reflection on the nature of evil. She underlines how one of the most frightening aspects of the Nazism was the banality of evil, namely the evil becoming part of everyday life, widely accepted as a normal aspect of daily routine. This was achieved by the ruling power taking advantage of human primordial drives and in particular of the instinct for survival. 
Postorino’s At the Wolf's Table, telling a story that turns the ordinary and nurturing experience of eating into a potentially deathly one, seems to take part into the philosophical research about the nature of evil. It shows how human affective and instinctual complexities may be manipulated, transforming people silently and progressively into intentionally unaware assets for the power to use for its means, even when they are opposite to people ethics. And it is indeed this distortion that explain Rosa’s flush of love for a perpetrator. 
Passing down the memory of Hitler’s tasters in order to reveal and raise awareness about the nature of evil and its traps seems to be the most original and key aspect that makes this novel worth reading.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    This novel is based upon real events, and the life of Margot Wolk, who was the last survivor of Hitler’s food tasters – a fact she, apparently, only divulged at the very end of her life. In this novel, she becomes Rosa Sauer, a Berlin secretary, who has married her boss and is looking forward to a life of contented, marital bliss, when Gregor heads off to war. Then, as the bombs fall, and she finds herself without any family, she relocates – somewhat unwillingly – to the countryside, to stay wit This novel is based upon real events, and the life of Margot Wolk, who was the last survivor of Hitler’s food tasters – a fact she, apparently, only divulged at the very end of her life. In this novel, she becomes Rosa Sauer, a Berlin secretary, who has married her boss and is looking forward to a life of contented, marital bliss, when Gregor heads off to war. Then, as the bombs fall, and she finds herself without any family, she relocates – somewhat unwillingly – to the countryside, to stay with her in-law’s. Being new to the area, and standing out as a city girl in the countryside, brings trouble to Rosa’s door. She is ordered, along with several other women, to become a taster at the Wolf’s Lair. It is 1943 in East Prussia and the tide of war is turning. Although some of the women recruited are keen Party supporters, there is plenty of – pretty open – criticism of the regime. Still, every day, the women sit down to breakfast, lunch and dinner, in order to eat food prepared for Hitler and then wait to check whether or not it has been poisoned. Undoubtedly, even though Hitler’s diet is slightly restricted and vegetarian, the food is much better than the women would normally have and, despite the risks, they mostly seem hungry enough to eat what is put in front of them with gratitude. Through this novel we learn of the delicate balance of relationships – both between Rosa and her in-law’s and the women who are bussed in to try Hitler’s food. Rosa is the outsider; not part of the community, she stands out with her city shoes and clothes. As such, she both garners the others scorn and their envy. As the book progresses, we get to know the other women better and how their lives, and the war changes them. Overall, a fascinating historical novel, but the style was a little dry. However, as the book was translated, I am not sure whether this was due to the original author’s style, or the translation. I received a copy of this book from the publisher, via NetGalley, for review.

  13. 4 out of 5

    angelareadsbooks

    I was greatly disappointed by this one. I ended up abandoning the book at 50%. Just was not engaged with the writing or the characters. I recommend The Taster if you are looking for another book about this topic.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Carol - Reading Writing and Riesling

    My View: Brilliant! A narrative that authentically involves you in the war time Germany where the impossible to accept, the dangerous, the unthinkable… is normalised. This is a study of group behaviour; of how social isolation, separation from family support, societal and military control, of how war affects those actively involved in the warfare and those who remain at home. It is also a story of love – in many forms, of violence, of living in perpetual/potential danger and a story of survival. T My View: Brilliant! A narrative that authentically involves you in the war time Germany where the impossible to accept, the dangerous, the unthinkable… is normalised. This is a study of group behaviour; of how social isolation, separation from family support, societal and military control, of how war affects those actively involved in the warfare and those who remain at home. It is also a story of love – in many forms, of violence, of living in perpetual/potential danger and a story of survival. This is, at times, an intense and emotional read. I was disappointed when I read the last page - I was hungry for more. Brilliantly written, sensitively translated, this is a great read.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Tasha

    After about 3/4 of the way through, I'm pulling a DNF. Not sure if it's the translation but the writing is not all that great, the story is not grabbing me and I have no interest in these characters who are not dimensional at all. It all feels a bit clunky and unfortunately I have no desire to know how it all ends. After about 3/4 of the way through, I'm pulling a DNF. Not sure if it's the translation but the writing is not all that great, the story is not grabbing me and I have no interest in these characters who are not dimensional at all. It all feels a bit clunky and unfortunately I have no desire to know how it all ends.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Amanda - Mrs B's Book Reviews

    *https://mrsbbookreviews.wordpress.com 3.5 stars At the Wolf’s Table is a historical fiction title inspired by a short newspaper article the author of the novel came across in 2014. Rosella Postorino was intrigued by the life of Margot Wolk, Hitler’s last surviving food tasters. Interestingly, Margot Wolk did not choose to reveal her work as a food taster until the very end of her life. Struck deeply by this woman and her experiences, Postorino felt compelled to bring Margot’s amazing hidden histo *https://mrsbbookreviews.wordpress.com 3.5 stars At the Wolf’s Table is a historical fiction title inspired by a short newspaper article the author of the novel came across in 2014. Rosella Postorino was intrigued by the life of Margot Wolk, Hitler’s last surviving food tasters. Interestingly, Margot Wolk did not choose to reveal her work as a food taster until the very end of her life. Struck deeply by this woman and her experiences, Postorino felt compelled to bring Margot’s amazing hidden history to life in her book, At the Wolf’s Table. Originally published in Italian and translated into English in 2019 as a Simon and Schuster publication, At the Wolf’s Table is the jaw dropping story of Rosa Sauer. In this remarkable story, Rosa is conscripted to work for the SS in Hitler’s Lair, as one of his official food tasters. It is a book that has a strong cinematic quality and I wasn’t surprised to discover that movie rights have been obtained. I’m keen to see how it would all play out on the big screen. I enjoyed this book, but I felt like there were some pieces missing, or perhaps there were some areas that were not clarified so well in the process of translation. The history behind this novel is fascinating to say the least. It draws our attention to the situation many ordinary German people faced in World War II. Rosa, the main protagonist, feels apathetic towards the Nazi regime, yet she is coerced into accepting a position as one of Hitler’s team working as his food taster. It must have been hard, aligning your personal beliefs with the simple act of preserving your own life. This is highlighted well in the novel. I also learnt some previously unknown facts about Hitler himself and his household, which satisfied this WWII fiend’s hunger for more stories from this era. Rosa herself is a fairly difficult character to pin down. I’m not sure if I liked her. I did sympathise with Rosa’s predicament and I wanted her to survive. I found many of her choices disagreeable, but I think the author is trying to make us see that many German people made terrible and ill-fated choices during the war, that would continue to haunt them for the rest of their lives. Rosa is quite the outsider in the book, she doesn’t click with the other female taste tasters, and she forms an alliance with an SS officer that is incredibly doomed. I did enjoy the sense of danger and risk that went with this segment in the novel. Likewise, the atmosphere of possible death through the infected food was presented well by the author. I was on edge for much of the book! At the Wolf’s Table takes a little known event in history and places it in a compelling format, thanks to the writing of Rosealla Postorino. A perturbing story that is both shocking and intriguing, anyone with a passing interest in the dramatic history of World War II should pick this one up to read.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Anna

    Rosa Sauer has left her home in Berlin to move in with her in-laws who live in the country. Her husband is fighting on the Eastern Front and has gone missing. Rosa and a group of women have been conscripted to be food tasters. They are brought to the Wolf's Lair, a hidden outpost Hitler uses to plan his next strategic move. Rosa and the women eat breakfast, lunch and dinner, all the foods Hitler will be served. They are the guinea pigs to determine if the food has been poisoned. The women are fe Rosa Sauer has left her home in Berlin to move in with her in-laws who live in the country. Her husband is fighting on the Eastern Front and has gone missing. Rosa and a group of women have been conscripted to be food tasters. They are brought to the Wolf's Lair, a hidden outpost Hitler uses to plan his next strategic move. Rosa and the women eat breakfast, lunch and dinner, all the foods Hitler will be served. They are the guinea pigs to determine if the food has been poisoned. The women are fed and paid for their service, but the position does hold it's own dangers. The story revolves around the relationships between the women and Rosa's involvement with a married, stoic SS officer. I found the storyline to be rather disjointed, the flow was slow and the plot could have used more development.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Madeleine (Top Shelf Text)

    I was pleasantly surprised by this novel. It feels like every other book in the historical fiction genre is a WWII book, so it can be hard to find a perspective that feels different. I read this for book club with my girlfriends and I am so looking forward to discussing it. It's a quiet novel, but there is so much to talk about. I don't believe I've read a WWII book from the perspective of a German citizen (who is not also Jewish), so that was new for me. Postorino sets the story in the heart of I was pleasantly surprised by this novel. It feels like every other book in the historical fiction genre is a WWII book, so it can be hard to find a perspective that feels different. I read this for book club with my girlfriends and I am so looking forward to discussing it. It's a quiet novel, but there is so much to talk about. I don't believe I've read a WWII book from the perspective of a German citizen (who is not also Jewish), so that was new for me. Postorino sets the story in the heart of the Third Reich -- with a protagonist who works as a taste tester for Hitler. The mechanics of the taste testers' job is really interesting, but it's the relationships between these women, their choice (or lack of) in working for Hitler, and the many layers of living in a time of war that make this book worth discussing. As an added bonus, Postorino's writing is gorgeous and the translation from Italian is wonderfully done. I'd recommend this for fans of The Nightingale.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Swann

    Pretty disappointed in this. I was expecting so much more. I didn’t feel the fear of being a poison guinea pig. There was a lot of sexual situations that I questioned, especially at the end of the story. It just left an icky taste for me. The characters fell flat for me and I wanted more of the experience of being a taste tester and I don’t feel that we got it.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Hall

    Given the extraordinary history behind this novel, loosely inspired by the true story of Margot Wölk, one of a group of women conscripted to taste Hitler’s food, I was expecting a powerful human interest story and some juicy facts about Hitler and his regime inside the Wolf’s Lair. I was disappointed on both counts and as a reader who had hoped for the low-down on Hitler and his private world the story it failed to pass muster. Not that there aren’t occasionally insights into the man, the most i Given the extraordinary history behind this novel, loosely inspired by the true story of Margot Wölk, one of a group of women conscripted to taste Hitler’s food, I was expecting a powerful human interest story and some juicy facts about Hitler and his regime inside the Wolf’s Lair. I was disappointed on both counts and as a reader who had hoped for the low-down on Hitler and his private world the story it failed to pass muster. Not that there aren’t occasionally insights into the man, the most interesting of which is probably his flatulence problem, but they are few and far between. Rosella Posterino’s story introduces twenty-six-year-old Rosa Sauer, a secretary from Berlin who just a year into her marriage to Gregor in 1943 finds herself installed in the home of her in-laws in rural East Prussia with her husband fighting on the front line. As a newcomer to the community situated in the vicinity of the Wolf’s Lair, Rosa discovers she has been conscripted as one of Hitler’s food tasters when an SS officer arrives with the startling news. Driven to the Wolf’s Lair, where an increasingly paranoid Führer is holed up, the group of young women begin the work of tasting everything that Hitler will consume and determining whether it has been poisoned. Abundant food and far more packed with goodness than the women are likely to obtain elsewhere, but with an unthinkable risk and an agonising wait for life of death in a claustrophobic and suspicious environment. The narrative is rather disjointed and goes back and forth in time to the early days of Rosa’s marriage and life in Berlin with Gregor to the enforced proximity of living with her in-laws in the countryside. I found Rosa difficult to invest in as there is something very reserved about her and I struggled to get behind the indifferent facade that she presents to the outside world. Although the dynamics within the group of food tasters contain the odd moment of insight with jealousy, solidarity and sexual tension all present, the snapshots are too fleeting and occasional to make for much of substance. Rosa is an outsider due to coming from the city and working in an office. Interestingly the allegiance to Hitler’s regime differs widely across the group of women with scorn, contempt and Party loyalists in the mix and this divides the group into two factions. When Rosa attracts the attention of a tyrannical SS Lieutenant and crosses a line she is afflicted by conflicted loyalties, the devastating news that Gregor is missing in action and the dangers in store as Hitler’s regime looks set to topple. The story raises some interesting questions and moral dilemmas and whilst it was rather more subdued and certainly less revelatory on Hitler and his inner sanctum that I had hoped and expected, it was a very worthwhile read.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Kalen

    This seems to be getting a lot of mixed reviews (Thanks, Google Translate!) but I really liked it. The criticisms are that this isn't serious enough historical fiction and that Rosa isn't very sympathetic. For me, I think the only real stumbling block for me was her relationship with Ziegler which didn't feel believable. But what do I know? The Shelf Awareness review of this one provides the best summary I have seen so far: >Postorino's narrative is unusual among World War II novels. Rather than This seems to be getting a lot of mixed reviews (Thanks, Google Translate!) but I really liked it. The criticisms are that this isn't serious enough historical fiction and that Rosa isn't very sympathetic. For me, I think the only real stumbling block for me was her relationship with Ziegler which didn't feel believable. But what do I know? The Shelf Awareness review of this one provides the best summary I have seen so far: >Postorino's narrative is unusual among World War II novels. Rather than a story of stubborn resistance or unquestioning devotion to the Nazi cause, Rosa and her colleagues live in the gray area between. Rosa knows, as do they all, that their actions are tantamount to collaboration, but they also realize the privilege afforded them by a steady paycheck and three filling meals a day. Rosa, in particular, seems to find herself swept along by circumstance, though she gradually realizes that she must reckon with the implications not only of her actions, but of her willingness to go along with a cruel and corrupt system. This will be a great book for book groups because there is so much to think and talk about.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Carrie

    I love books that take place during both ww 1 and ww 2 and most tend to be from the point of view from the English or American. This however takes place in Germany from the point of view of a German lady who was picked (against her will) to be one of the 10 food tasters of Hitler. This was fascinating.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Claudia Putnam

    This is a book we could all stand to read right now. Though it's slow and even I--who don't especially care about plot--was tempted to lay it aside a few times, it takes a good, careful, and convincing look at the frog-in-the-water aspect of accepting the terms of dictatorship, and at the dimensions of collaboration/non-resistance. It's not that gorgeous or innovative (which normally compensate for slowness for me), but it is profound. I was going to give it 3 stars and then I looked at all my h This is a book we could all stand to read right now. Though it's slow and even I--who don't especially care about plot--was tempted to lay it aside a few times, it takes a good, careful, and convincing look at the frog-in-the-water aspect of accepting the terms of dictatorship, and at the dimensions of collaboration/non-resistance. It's not that gorgeous or innovative (which normally compensate for slowness for me), but it is profound. I was going to give it 3 stars and then I looked at all my highlights.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Calzean

    The writer and translator have done a deft job to deliver a literary gem of words. The story follows Rosa Sauer who in 1943 is forced, along with nine other women, to be a food taster for Hitler when he resides at his Wolf's Lair. There's tension with each meal; is it poisoned? There's tension between the women and their various beliefs. Rosa has her own tensions with a husband fighting in Russia, entrapment in her role and her place as a woman. The writer also brings in some historical aspects - The writer and translator have done a deft job to deliver a literary gem of words. The story follows Rosa Sauer who in 1943 is forced, along with nine other women, to be a food taster for Hitler when he resides at his Wolf's Lair. There's tension with each meal; is it poisoned? There's tension between the women and their various beliefs. Rosa has her own tensions with a husband fighting in Russia, entrapment in her role and her place as a woman. The writer also brings in some historical aspects - the bombing assassination attempt, the treatment of Jews and the chaos of 1945 Germany. The actual writing was the star of the show. And if you know little about WWII this book is an easy introduction into some of the events.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer (JC-S)

    ‘The Führer needs you.’ Adolf Hitler was afraid of being poisoned. Even in his heavily guarded headquarters, the Wolfsschanze (‘the Wolf’s Lair’), in East Prussia (now part of Poland) he feared that the British would poison him. In this novel, inspired by Margot Woelk’s account of her time as one of Hitler’s food tasters, Ms Postorino imagines the experiences of the women who were food tasters. Rosa Sauer, our narrator in this novel, is one of ten women from the nearby village of Gross-Partsch con ‘The Führer needs you.’ Adolf Hitler was afraid of being poisoned. Even in his heavily guarded headquarters, the Wolfsschanze (‘the Wolf’s Lair’), in East Prussia (now part of Poland) he feared that the British would poison him. In this novel, inspired by Margot Woelk’s account of her time as one of Hitler’s food tasters, Ms Postorino imagines the experiences of the women who were food tasters. Rosa Sauer, our narrator in this novel, is one of ten women from the nearby village of Gross-Partsch conscripted to act as one of the food tastes. The women were driven to the Wolfsschanze twice each day, were made to eat the vegetarian meals prepared for Hitler. They then had to wait for an hour under guard, to ensure that the Führer’s food was safe for him to eat. And while sampling Hitler’s food had some advantages: many Germans were contending with food shortages; how could the women relax knowing that each meal could be their last? ‘We had no alternative—that was our alibi. I was responsible only for the food I ingested. A harmless gesture, eating.’ Rosa is something of an outsider in this group. Her mother was killed in a bombing raid in Berlin. She is staying with her parents-in-law in Gross-Partsch. Her husband, Gregor, is fighting at the front. Rosa’s life is in turmoil when she is conscripted as a food taster and Gregor is reported missing in action. Rosa is in limbo. She does not know whether her husband is alive, she does not know whether each meal will be her last. She travels to Wolfsschanze on a bus each morning, and then home to help her mother-in-law with domestic chores. Gradually she becomes acquainted with the other women conscripted as food tasters, but there is little prospect of friendship here. The atmosphere is tense: the tension compounded by mutual distrust, the need to work together and the indifference or cruelty of the SS officers. The novel explores several difficult issues: should Rosa (and the other women) feel guilty about surviving? Do they really have any choice but to co-operate? Are they victims or collaborators? And, in thinking about possible answers to those questions, a reader must wonder exactly what they might do in the same circumstances. I found this novel unsettling. There are no simple answers to these questions. And, returning to Margot Woelk, I was not surprised to learn that she did not speak of her experiences until she was past her 95th birthday. Jennifer Cameron-Smith

  26. 4 out of 5

    Mary McBride

    I really liked this novel about a group of women whom were forced to be food tasters for Hitler. A different perspective of the encroaching war and how it played into the lives, loves and beliefs of all involved.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Laurene

    At the Wolf's Table is a true story about one of Adolf Hitler's tasters. The novel is slow and lulls the reader into a rhythm of the everyday life of the girl's who were the tasters. The characters start to reveal themselves layer after layer. Their true lives get shared. Then just as this sense of security engulfs the reader, you think you know where the novel is headed. It completely takes off into another direction. And what a story it reveals! I have never read this author before but she ha At the Wolf's Table is a true story about one of Adolf Hitler's tasters. The novel is slow and lulls the reader into a rhythm of the everyday life of the girl's who were the tasters. The characters start to reveal themselves layer after layer. Their true lives get shared. Then just as this sense of security engulfs the reader, you think you know where the novel is headed. It completely takes off into another direction. And what a story it reveals! I have never read this author before but she has a new fan! On a personal note -- I never knew Hitler had a german shepherd named Blondie.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Maryam

    This books is based on true story of Adolf’s Hitler tasters. During lasts years of Hitler’s era a group of 10 women would eat the food prepared for Hitler and be observed for some time to make sure the food is not poisoned. This is story of Rosa one of those women. Book has a slow rhythm and is focused on main characters and strange friendship she has with some of other women and one Nazi officer. There is not much action happening in the book but surprisingly it reflects the events that happens This books is based on true story of Adolf’s Hitler tasters. During lasts years of Hitler’s era a group of 10 women would eat the food prepared for Hitler and be observed for some time to make sure the food is not poisoned. This is story of Rosa one of those women. Book has a slow rhythm and is focused on main characters and strange friendship she has with some of other women and one Nazi officer. There is not much action happening in the book but surprisingly it reflects the events that happens during that time. The flat tone of story gives a chill to the reader to the very end of the book.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    Although an uncomfortable read at times, due to the subject matter, this is a beautifully written exploration of the impossible decisions a young German woman had to make in order to survive as long as possible during the final two years of the Second World War. Rosa is hard to like and the reader is kept at an emotional distance (I'm not sure if this is due to the translation or the original) but it's a book that will linger on my mind. Review to follow shortly on For Winter Nights. Although an uncomfortable read at times, due to the subject matter, this is a beautifully written exploration of the impossible decisions a young German woman had to make in order to survive as long as possible during the final two years of the Second World War. Rosa is hard to like and the reader is kept at an emotional distance (I'm not sure if this is due to the translation or the original) but it's a book that will linger on my mind. Review to follow shortly on For Winter Nights.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Missy

    This was probably a 2.5 star book for me, but will round it up to 3. I had previously read The Taster by V. S. Alexander and wanted to compare the two. This was about the same, though it took a slightly different approach. This was the story of Rosa Sauer who lived with her in-law's while her husband was away fighting the war. She became a taster for Hitler. She made friends, including that of Elfriede, who wasn't exactly the nicest to Rosa, but had some kind of pull to her. She also becomes inv This was probably a 2.5 star book for me, but will round it up to 3. I had previously read The Taster by V. S. Alexander and wanted to compare the two. This was about the same, though it took a slightly different approach. This was the story of Rosa Sauer who lived with her in-law's while her husband was away fighting the war. She became a taster for Hitler. She made friends, including that of Elfriede, who wasn't exactly the nicest to Rosa, but had some kind of pull to her. She also becomes involved with an SS officer in charge of the tasters. I liked this story but it was very heavy on narration. The ending surprised me some, but I had some inkling on the friendship. Like I said, it was good, but may not be one I recommend to many.

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