Anna escapes her brutal husband and hides away in Warsaw. During the Nazi occupation, she works secretly to aid the resistance and meets Mateusz, a doctor. Can they survive the war and make a future together?
The Polish Wife is the second book in the series of books about the resisitance in Poland during WW2. I have previously reviewed the first book in the series, The Polish Girl.
We met Anna and Mateusz in the previous book but this book focuses on their story. Anna’s mother gives her the chance to escape her violent Nazi husband and she makes a new life in Warsaw. During the war she is appalled by the Nazi regime and, although outwardly conforming, assists the resistance.
The majority of the book is written from the first person perspectives of Anna and Mateusz to show the misunderstandings and emotions of the main characters. There are some chapters written from Lescek’s viewpoint which shows his animosity towards the pair. This adds to the creation of the tension as we wait for him to exact his revenge.
I enjoyed the development of the main characters and their relationships. Both of them have huge personal issues to deal with alongside the trauma of war. However, I found some of the plot a little clunky as events occur ‘off stage’ and then we don’t see a proper reaction, such as Mateusz responding to the deaths of his friend and his father.
The Polish Wife is an historically detailed yet emotional novel about the resistance in Poland during WW2.
The Polish Wife by Gosia Nealon
Germany, 1934. Surrounded by beautiful wedding china, we share our first dinner alone as husband and wife. But, instead of sharing affections, all he talks of is his admiration for Hitler. I force a smile, but my blood runs cold. How can I stay with him, now I know what he truly is?
Six years later. When Anna is approached by the Polish resistance while sheltering in Warsaw, she is eager for the chance to fight against German occupation. Managing a network of spies behind the façade of a café for enemy soldiers will mean risking everything. But, after fleeing her fanatical Nazi husband only for war to follow close behind, Anna can’t run any more.
Every conversation she overhears between the unsuspecting officers at the café brings back awful memories of the Nazi her husband became and makes her more determined to do what is right. Spending more time with the resistance behind the scenes, she grows close to them all—especially a brilliant young doctor with deep hazel eyes called Mateusz, who shows her a kindness she has never known.
As they work together, Anna can’t help imagining what life would be like with him, instead of the man she is tied to. But one day her dreams of a future with Mateusz, and freedom for her country, are shattered. Her husband has tracked her down.
Terrified, Anna knows that living as his wife again is her chance to gather information that could help end the war. But can she keep her nerve long enough to spy on her own husband? And with such a high-ranking enemy officer watching her every move, can she protect Mateusz, the man truly she loves, from the firing line?
This is a totally inspiring and gripping page-turner that you will not be able to put down. Fans of The Alice Network, The Tattooist of Auschwitz, and My Name is Eva will fall in love with this heartbreaking tale.
While Gosia Nealon is a proud New Yorker, she was born and raised in Poland. Her journey to the Big Apple revealed a wealth of cultural differences, but also the values that connect us all. Like the fierce desire to protect family, find love, and ultimately, discover who we are and why we’re here.
Gosia’s award-winning short stories have always delved into life’s biggest questions, but it was the drama, sacrifice, and tragedy of WWII that led her to pen her debut novel, which won a gold medal in the 2022 Independent Publisher Book Awards (IPPY).
Growing up in Poland, Gosia heard many firsthand accounts of the war, told from a perspective rarely captured in mainstream literature. She was compelled to breathe life into two young people falling in love in the midst of the most terrifying conflict of our time.
When Gosia isn’t tapping away at her laptop, she’s often walking the streets of New York. With her husband and two young sons in tow, they search for the most succulent pierogi, transporting them back to the cobbled streets of her childhood.