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No Woman's Land

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“It was very dangerous for him, and he knew it. But his love for me was stronger than fear.” - Ilse Stein This novel is based on the inspiring and moving love story of Ilse Stein, a German Jew, and Willy Schultz, a Luftwaffe Captain in the Minsk ghetto, who risked his life to save the one he loved the most. When the last of the Jews’ rights are stripped in 1941, Ilse’s f “It was very dangerous for him, and he knew it. But his love for me was stronger than fear.” - Ilse Stein This novel is based on the inspiring and moving love story of Ilse Stein, a German Jew, and Willy Schultz, a Luftwaffe Captain in the Minsk ghetto, who risked his life to save the one he loved the most. When the last of the Jews’ rights are stripped in 1941, Ilse’s family is deported to a Minsk ghetto. Confined to a Sonderghetto and unable to speak the locals’ language, Ilse struggles to support the surviving members of her family. Befriended by a local underground member Rivka, Ilse partakes in small acts of resistance and sabotage to help her fellow Jews escape to the partisans. A few months later, after losing almost his entire brigade of workers to one of the bloodiest massacres conducted by the SS, a local administrative officer Willy Schultz summons the survivors to form a new brigade. Ilse’s good looks immediately catch his eye, and he makes her a leader of the new unit and later, an office worker. Soon, an unlikely romance blossoms amid death and gore, moving a Nazi officer to go to great risks to protect not only Ilse but as many others as possible and allowing a Jewish girl to open her heart to the former enemy. Knowing that the ghetto would soon be liquidated, Willy Schultz swears to save Ilse, even if the cost would be his own life. “We live together, or we die together,” - an ultimate oath of love in the most harrowing setting. Dark, haunting, but full of hope, “No Woman’s Land” is a testament to the love that is stronger than fear and death itself.


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“It was very dangerous for him, and he knew it. But his love for me was stronger than fear.” - Ilse Stein This novel is based on the inspiring and moving love story of Ilse Stein, a German Jew, and Willy Schultz, a Luftwaffe Captain in the Minsk ghetto, who risked his life to save the one he loved the most. When the last of the Jews’ rights are stripped in 1941, Ilse’s f “It was very dangerous for him, and he knew it. But his love for me was stronger than fear.” - Ilse Stein This novel is based on the inspiring and moving love story of Ilse Stein, a German Jew, and Willy Schultz, a Luftwaffe Captain in the Minsk ghetto, who risked his life to save the one he loved the most. When the last of the Jews’ rights are stripped in 1941, Ilse’s family is deported to a Minsk ghetto. Confined to a Sonderghetto and unable to speak the locals’ language, Ilse struggles to support the surviving members of her family. Befriended by a local underground member Rivka, Ilse partakes in small acts of resistance and sabotage to help her fellow Jews escape to the partisans. A few months later, after losing almost his entire brigade of workers to one of the bloodiest massacres conducted by the SS, a local administrative officer Willy Schultz summons the survivors to form a new brigade. Ilse’s good looks immediately catch his eye, and he makes her a leader of the new unit and later, an office worker. Soon, an unlikely romance blossoms amid death and gore, moving a Nazi officer to go to great risks to protect not only Ilse but as many others as possible and allowing a Jewish girl to open her heart to the former enemy. Knowing that the ghetto would soon be liquidated, Willy Schultz swears to save Ilse, even if the cost would be his own life. “We live together, or we die together,” - an ultimate oath of love in the most harrowing setting. Dark, haunting, but full of hope, “No Woman’s Land” is a testament to the love that is stronger than fear and death itself.

30 review for No Woman's Land

  1. 4 out of 5

    Marialyce (absltmom, yaya)

    3.5 stars We can always be reminded of the struggles, the death, the destruction of wars and certainly what so many Jews went through when we are drawn to reading World War 2 stories. This one, based on true happenings, is a story of forbidden love between a Nazi Lieutenant and a Jewish woman. Ilse Stein, a German Jew, and Willy Schultz, a Luftwaffe Captain, fall in love. They meet in the Minsk ghetto, where a romance slowly develops. Willy becomes Ilse savior and as the story continues we learn h 3.5 stars We can always be reminded of the struggles, the death, the destruction of wars and certainly what so many Jews went through when we are drawn to reading World War 2 stories. This one, based on true happenings, is a story of forbidden love between a Nazi Lieutenant and a Jewish woman. Ilse Stein, a German Jew, and Willy Schultz, a Luftwaffe Captain, fall in love. They meet in the Minsk ghetto, where a romance slowly develops. Willy becomes Ilse savior and as the story continues we learn he came to save others as well. Willy, through his actions was able to assure Ilse that his thoughts and feelings were genuine. He hated what the SS were doing and in his own way he tried to aid as many as he could always running the constant danger that would come to the both of them should their love and care for one another come to the attention of others. Coming to the Minsk camp, where her father had already perished on the train ride, her mother was instantly condemned to the gas cars, while her two sisters, Lily and Lore were able to survive, was both frightening and a fight for survival. In the story we feel the pain and fear that filled the camp daily, but we also see resilience and bravery from the partisans with the overwhelming determination to drive out the oppressors. It is truly a testament to the love and couage of the people depicted in this book that they and others managed to survive. Thank you to Ellie Midwood, Boookuture, and NetGalley for a copy of this story published on September 8, 2021.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Brenda

    It was the early 1940s when Ilse Stein and her sisters Lily and Lore accompanied their parents to a ghetto in Minsk, where they’d be imprisoned by the Germans. Their father had died on the train in the dreadful crush, along with many others, and their mother was gassed on arrival. Ilse knew it was up to her, an eighteen year old, to care for her sisters and keep them safe. The SS guards surrounded them, their leering stares making them shudder. As Ilse and her friends watched the SS murder peopl It was the early 1940s when Ilse Stein and her sisters Lily and Lore accompanied their parents to a ghetto in Minsk, where they’d be imprisoned by the Germans. Their father had died on the train in the dreadful crush, along with many others, and their mother was gassed on arrival. Ilse knew it was up to her, an eighteen year old, to care for her sisters and keep them safe. The SS guards surrounded them, their leering stares making them shudder. As Ilse and her friends watched the SS murder people from different parts of the ghetto, they wondered how they’d survive. When Ilse was noticed by an administrative SS officer Wilhem Schultz, she was terrified of the attention he was giving her. She didn’t trust him – how could she? He was everything she and her fellow Jews hated. But as time moved forward, Willi showed Ilse she could trust him. He hated what the SS were doing and refused to be a part of it. He promised Ilse that she would survive. With the years of the war moving forward, the SS’s brutality continued, and Willi’s determination to keep Ilse, her sisters and the few friends safe saw many inventive ways of doing so. But would that continue? When the pressure was on, would Willi’s fervour crack? The Girl Who Survived is the 2nd in the Women and the Holocaust series by Ellie Millwood and I enjoyed it very much. The bravery, determination and honour that those women showed is outstanding; their love and support of each other second to none. The Girl Who Survived is based on the true story of German Jew, Ilsa Stein and what happened to her when she was imprisoned in the Minsk ghetto. Highly recommended. Information on Ilse and Willi - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Jew... With thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for my digital ARC to read in exchange for an honest review.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Amy Bruno

    "We live together, or we die together" Oh, my heart! No Woman's Land was another stellar historical from Ellie Midwood, who is fast becoming my go-to for WWII and Holocaust novels. This lady brings the past to life like no other - the good, the bad, and everything in between! What endeared me most to this novel is that it's based on a true story of a Luftwaffe Officer that fell in love with a German Jew amidst the violence and terror at a Minsk ghetto. How one can find love in such a horrifying pl "We live together, or we die together" Oh, my heart! No Woman's Land was another stellar historical from Ellie Midwood, who is fast becoming my go-to for WWII and Holocaust novels. This lady brings the past to life like no other - the good, the bad, and everything in between! What endeared me most to this novel is that it's based on a true story of a Luftwaffe Officer that fell in love with a German Jew amidst the violence and terror at a Minsk ghetto. How one can find love in such a horrifying place it's hard to fathom, but I think this quote from Ilse explains it perfectly: "It can be my corpse that a black SS boot shoves into a new pit tomorrow and I want to die a woman who's known love at least for a few stolen moments." Midwood is a wonder with words - I am so in love with her writing. You can feel the love between Ilse and Willy explode off the pages and as a reader you root for them to make it. I cried quite a few times while reading this, so have tissues at the ready! And her descriptions of life in the ghetto and the daily struggle to survive was real and visceral. "...yet, he courted me instead as though it was not wartime, as though I didn't owe my very life to him, as though it wasn't me, who was the helpless side in all of this twisted equation." No Woman's Land was a beautiful, chilling, terrifying, and hopeful. I loved every second I spent with this book and cannot wait for more from Ellie Midwood!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Lori

    This is a new to me author!! I love this author's works and how she doesn't beat around the bush for this book!! This is after all, a story on the Holocaust and it's unusual love story. But, while you are reading this book this author offers hope, love, trust ( even though that is hard to do in times like the Holocaust) and keeping the Faith no matter what happens!! This is a very emotional read and I highly suggest a box of tissues beside you! I like how this author can draw you into the book wit This is a new to me author!! I love this author's works and how she doesn't beat around the bush for this book!! This is after all, a story on the Holocaust and it's unusual love story. But, while you are reading this book this author offers hope, love, trust ( even though that is hard to do in times like the Holocaust) and keeping the Faith no matter what happens!! This is a very emotional read and I highly suggest a box of tissues beside you! I like how this author can draw you into the book without you even realizing it. I could even picture the characters and feel their emotions in this book while trying to struggle to survive! War is a terrible thing!! It makes people do things that they normally wouldn't do. Overall, great story, wonderful characters, and an author that knows how to deliver the truth while mixing a little fiction in with it. We shouldn't ever forget or try to hide anything about the Holocaust. I feel it's to be remembered and maybe even learned from. I couldn't find anything I didn't like about it and of course the cover of the book tells the story in itself. I strongly recommend this book if you want to learn more about the Holocaust I will say, that I learned a lot of things that the history teachers in school didn't teach you. If you're not a history buff by the time you finish this story, you will be unless I miss my guess of course!! But, I don't think so lol!! My thanks to the publisher. No compensations were received and all opinions are my own!!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Robin Loves Reading

    One by one their rights were removed.Were they to pass laws that to walk or to breathe was illegal, of that Ilse would not have been surprised. Simply put, to be a Jew was against the law. Ilse and her family have truly lost everything they’ve known and now they are headed to the Minsk ghetto where survival is not guaranteed. What cannot be taken from them is strength and fortitude, even those marched to certain death. Never to see her mother again, literally smelling death at every turn, Ilse i One by one their rights were removed.Were they to pass laws that to walk or to breathe was illegal, of that Ilse would not have been surprised. Simply put, to be a Jew was against the law. Ilse and her family have truly lost everything they’ve known and now they are headed to the Minsk ghetto where survival is not guaranteed. What cannot be taken from them is strength and fortitude, even those marched to certain death. Never to see her mother again, literally smelling death at every turn, Ilse is now ophaned with her two sisters while watching a quota of Jews being killed daily by the SS soldiers, thus not knowing how long they will live. Ilse starts to see sympathetic SS Officer Wilhem Schultz as a man behind the uniform. She begins working with Willy and slowly but surely not only is she beginning to trust him, she finds it impossible not to develop feelings for him, something that would mean certain death if ever discovered. The genocide ripping through the ghetto is nonstop. Ilse takes her brigade responsiblity in the ghetto seriously, but she also takes what is growing between her and Willy seriously as well. Willy keeps Ilse safe, and it soon appears that he will go to any lengths necessary to do so. No matter what happens between Ilse and Willy however, she remains dedicated to her sisters and to her friend Liza. Not only was The Girl Who Survived a remarkable story that captured my attention from beginning to end, it was more than a fictional love story. In fact, Ellie Midwood based this novel on a true story. Despite the horror. Despite the sadness. Despite the apparent hopelessness, love between Ilse and Willy blossomed. The dedication they had for one another was so palpable, so touching, so inspirational, that it felt like it would be everlasting, even if one of them were forced to experience death. Even though there was much to be sad about, this remarkable story filled me with hope page after page, and the ending was just wonderful. Many thanks to Bookouture and to NetGalley for this ARC for review. This is my honest opinion.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Dianne

    What Ellie Midwood has done with one of humanity’s most painful times is turn the hopeless horrors of the Nazi war machine against the Jews into a tale of hope, and the power of love against all odds. NO WOMAN’S LAND is a difficult read emotionally, between the slaughter of humans and the overall feeling of a grey and heavy atmosphere, a ray of forbidden light pierces through when a young Jewish teen finds an unlikely protector among the German soldiers, a man with enough power to shield her from What Ellie Midwood has done with one of humanity’s most painful times is turn the hopeless horrors of the Nazi war machine against the Jews into a tale of hope, and the power of love against all odds. NO WOMAN’S LAND is a difficult read emotionally, between the slaughter of humans and the overall feeling of a grey and heavy atmosphere, a ray of forbidden light pierces through when a young Jewish teen finds an unlikely protector among the German soldiers, a man with enough power to shield her from death, and to give her a love that knows no bounds, no matter the risk to himself and to give her hope for the future. What sold me on this incredibly moving read was learning that Ms. Midwood took an actual piece of history and fictionalized it without straying far from the truth of these two lovers. It changed every word I read for me and proved the power of love, belief and trust can be forces to be reckoned with. This is how history should be told. It should feel personal, because history is about more than action scenes, land or conquest, it is about people and heart and bravery against all odds. While there is death and inconceivably inhumane events, this is in the end, a story of life and love and a bond forged against all odds. Publication Date: May 31, 2019 Publisher: Ellie Midwood Genre: Historical Fiction Print Length: 277 pages Available from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble For Reviews, Giveaways, Fabulous Book News, follow: http://tometender.blogspot.com

  7. 4 out of 5

    Sarah 🌺 Books in Their Natural Habitat

    No Woman’s Land is one of the few books that have left me reeling for days. Talk about having a book hangover! I have read historical fiction books primarily around the World War II setting since I was in the third grade so to say the least, I’ve read a LOT of WWII books. There are so many perspectives of that time period to explore. The bravery, internal struggle and historical accuracy are what I find keep me reading more about WWII and are also telling signs of an outstanding book… all things No Woman’s Land is one of the few books that have left me reeling for days. Talk about having a book hangover! I have read historical fiction books primarily around the World War II setting since I was in the third grade so to say the least, I’ve read a LOT of WWII books. There are so many perspectives of that time period to explore. The bravery, internal struggle and historical accuracy are what I find keep me reading more about WWII and are also telling signs of an outstanding book… all things I would attribute to No Woman’s Land. This book, for me, was on the level of reading Night by Elie Wiesel. Reading this book catapulted me to being in the camp with Ilse. You could feel the unspoken thoughts between herself and Willy before it was even really recognized as if you were watching two of your friends fall in love in real life. You held your breath when there were orders to downsize the camp or people stuck their necks out to improve the lives of others. I smiled, I sighed of relief, I held my breath, I cried. This book gave me all the feels and chills. Hands down, a five star must-read of 2019. Thank you to HFVBT and Ellie Midwood for providing me with the opportunity to read and review this amazing book!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jenni

    “Yes, let them kill me tomorrow; tomorrow, I will gladly die by their hand as long as they let me have today-here, with him.” This novel is inspired by the true events and love between Ilse Stein , a German Jew, and Willy Schultz, a Luftwaffe Lieutenant in the Minsk ghetto, who despite all risk it posed to his own life, does all he can to save the life of the woman he loves. In 1940 Germany's Jews have already begun feeling the clutches of hatred tighten around their otherwise peaceful existence. “Yes, let them kill me tomorrow; tomorrow, I will gladly die by their hand as long as they let me have today-here, with him.” This novel is inspired by the true events and love between Ilse Stein , a German Jew, and Willy Schultz, a Luftwaffe Lieutenant in the Minsk ghetto, who despite all risk it posed to his own life, does all he can to save the life of the woman he loves. In 1940 Germany's Jews have already begun feeling the clutches of hatred tighten around their otherwise peaceful existence. Isle Stein is sixteen years old, She spends her time working at a factory in Frankfurt producing parachutes for Germany's Luftwaffe and dreaming of a normal life; where curfews and seeing the latest romantic films at the cinema are not imposed or forbidden just for being a Jew. She has know idea how bad it could actually get for her and her family and by 1941 all semblance of humanity is taken from them and they soon are grappling with histories most unfathomable events. Ilse and her family are stripped of their citizenship, forced to relinquish all property, and are labeled enemies of the German government. Ilse along with her parents and sisters are deported to Byelorussia's Minsk ghetto. Its here, surrounded by barbed wire and armed guards; amongst the ashes of death and destruction, that Ilse and Willy fall in love. “I wasn't afraid of him any longer and neither did I resent him solely for wearing that hateful uniform. For the first time, I saw a man behind it; a man, who was genuinely trying to help and had not the faintest idea how. That tiny sliver of humanity, the madly exhilarating feeling of being treated like a person and not something worthless and temporary that would be disposed of, filled my soul better than any bread would fill my stomach.” “NO Woman's Land” elevates love as a powerful force that transcends even the most darkest places. Within the pages of this book, the author has penned a heartbreaking love story against the backdrop of devastating tyranny and despair, filled with wonderful acts of decency and normalcy even in the midst of such horrific and disturbing descriptions of forced labor and life within the ghetto. The incredible acts of kindness and resistance stands as the ultimate lesson in humanity, hope and love. Truly, “No Woman's Land” is beautiful and moving, hauntingly detailed, and ultimately uplifting. Ilse and Willy's love for one another is a testament that despite the evil that exists, there is still moments of indescribable kindness and compassion , courage and selflessness proving love can overcome and triumph despite the evil and hatred that exists. I loved the ending! It's heartwarming, lovely and full of hope. The extraordinary love that existed between Ilse and Willy, and the uncompromising courage made by so many is one that Ellie Midwood has proven herself worthy of telling.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Kellie Butler

    ‘Historical Fiction at Its Finest’ There is historical fiction, and then there’s Ellie Midwood. No Woman’s Land is a superb novel that brings the Minsk Ghetto to life in all of its harsh cruelty with a sense of hope and grace. Reading a story of the dour conditions of the Holocaust can be difficult on a reader, but Ms. Midwood has crafted a powerful story of the meaning of loyalty, friendship, and love in the bitterest of conditions. One can’t help but cheer on ghetto occupants Ilse , Rivka, and ‘Historical Fiction at Its Finest’ There is historical fiction, and then there’s Ellie Midwood. No Woman’s Land is a superb novel that brings the Minsk Ghetto to life in all of its harsh cruelty with a sense of hope and grace. Reading a story of the dour conditions of the Holocaust can be difficult on a reader, but Ms. Midwood has crafted a powerful story of the meaning of loyalty, friendship, and love in the bitterest of conditions. One can’t help but cheer on ghetto occupants Ilse , Rivka, and Liza as they navigate the treacherous dog eat dog world of the ghetto while still holding on to the ultimate thing that keeps them alive: love. Although these three women, and others in the ghetto, come from diverging backgrounds, they form a solidarity as they keep each other together and the hope for freedom alive. Through this narrative, they discover the only thing that keeps one alive is love during the harshest of conditions. I appreciate Ilse Stein's character arc as we meet her as a timid, sheltered Jewish girl who arrives in Minsk after she and her sisters are resettled into the ghettos. There she meets women like Rivka and Liza, savvy leaders who lost husbands as the winds of war rage over the eastern front. Isle learns just how strong she is as she vows to survive and keep her sisters safe. Although disillusioned and jaded, she learns to trust as she meets Willy Schultz, an officer in the Luftwaffe who befriends her. Their love story is sweet, tender, and real as they let their guards down while coming to terms with being from opposing sides. This book left me wanting to know more of what becomes of Ilse, Willy, Liza, and all of their friends after the book ended, especially because these people existed during World War II. Highly recommended.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Allen M Werner

    I've been a fan of Ellie Midwood's books for a few years now.  Her dedication to the craft of writing and her ability to research and unearth interesting forgotten tales from World War 2, and present them as entertaining, educational fiction, is first rate. No Woman's Land: A Holocaust Novel is a must read. Ilse Stein is a young teen with all the hopes and dreams of any other teenage girl when Hitler's Germany begins its reign of terror, oppression's increasing, the curfews growing stricter, the S I've been a fan of Ellie Midwood's books for a few years now.  Her dedication to the craft of writing and her ability to research and unearth interesting forgotten tales from World War 2, and present them as entertaining, educational fiction, is first rate. No Woman's Land: A Holocaust Novel is a must read. Ilse Stein is a young teen with all the hopes and dreams of any other teenage girl when Hitler's Germany begins its reign of terror, oppression's increasing, the curfews growing stricter, the SA trashing shops and denouncing anyone who buys from Jews.  Ilse's family eventually moves to Frankfurt where she finds work in a factory with her older sister, Lily. Then came the knock on the door.  Men from the Reich Central Office for Jewish Resettlement orders them to pack and leave for Minsk in Byelorussia.  Each member of the family are forced to sign a document for these men admitting to being an enemy of the German government and therefore relinquishing their rights to all the property and possessions they leave behind. As stateless people, they board a train and two days later, her father falls ill and dies.  "I traveled with his dead body for several hours.  His head was still warm when they threw him out in the snow." Arriving in Minsk in November, 1941, the three girls lose their mother. "Rough, gloved hands were pulling us apart, separating families into mortified, shrieking entities... I lost the frail hand of my Mutti in the ashen air... I called for her in anguish but my voice was drowned in the ocean of others."  Ilse later learned her mother died in a gas van. In the Minsk Ghetto, the German Jews are kept separate from the Russian Jews by wire. Orders came down from Hitler's headquarters that no skilled workers are "to be harmed, as they were essential for the war effort." The young girls then experience for the first time an execution as twenty-six Jews are lined up and shot for one who ran away. I can't emphasize enough how masterful the author's storytelling is.  The characters are real, with depth, strengths and weaknesses, courage and despair.  The reader is right there in the middle of their misery, in the heat and in the cold, in the hunger and in the loss - and yet Ilse keeps discovering new ways to have hope, ways to keep her and her sisters alive. Speaking Yiddish, the German Jews learn they can communicate with the Russian Jews on the other side of the wire.  Slowly they make friends and learn the only way to survive this war is to steal, smuggle and trade. Ilse becomes aware of various factions within the German military structure and how certain entities like the SS are not as protective of the skilled workers as those who must operate the factories. After a mass execution of over 5000 skilled workers by the SS, the German Jews press forward to be chosen to fill the empty slots, noting "it was only women they wanted." Speaking up, Ilse is singled out, by Leutnant Willy Schultz.  He places her in charge of his new brigade of workers. Willy Schultz is an unhappily married, failed pilot, reassigned to run this fledgling office in Minsk.  He is friendly, polite and enamored by Ilse but doesn't take advantage of her.  He does his best to help her and her sisters stay safe, providing Ilse with passes and rations, eventually bringing her to his government office to type official documents although she is no typist. And then, as the horrors of the war and the behavior of the Gestapo press in on both of them, Willy decides he is in love with Ilse and wants to be with her no matter what.  He even turns down a new promotion that would take him away from her. And then comes the dreadful SS Aktionen on orders to liquidate all the Ghettos in occupied Eastern territories. Willy Schultz risks everything, leading Ilse's brigade of workers, and her sisters, down into the basement of a place where he believes they won't be discovered. "The order of the executive action was given to the heads of the Einsatzgruppen by Reichsfuhrer Himmler himself... All women, children, the sick, and the elderly are subjects for immediate execution." For four days they sleep in the cellar. After the liquidation is complete, Willy and Ilse bring the brigade back out in the light and tell them to go back to work as if nothing happened.  When the SS pokes its nose back into his business, Willy talks his way out of it but the brigade is sent into the ghetto to clean up the mess and the bodies of their friends and families who weren't hidden and protected.  "We lined them all up along the road regardless - the stiff and the bloated, the young and the elderly, the men and the women, until the streets were full of them." Pressure from above and beside Willy, urge him to quit protecting these Jews and this girl.  People are taking an interest in his behavior and he could lose his life. Willy can't take it anymore.  Ilse has trusted him with names, with activities of partisans in the camp and in the woods.  He helps the Jews collect the proper documentation and information to make their escape - an escape he plans to make with them. The most amazing part of 'No Woman's Land' is the fact that most of it is based on a true story.  Ilse Stein and Willy Schultz were real people who met in Minsk in 1942 after his "brigade was killed by the SS during the Purim massacre." This is an amazing tale of courage and love in the face of evil and death.  I highly recommend this book.  You won't forget it once you've read it.  It is powerful historical fiction that literally bleeds off the page and becomes a part of you.  5 stars.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Bill Ward

    Another great book from one of my favourite authors. I expected this book to be difficult to read given the main characters are Jewish and this is described as a Holocaust novel. However, I was surprisingly uplifted by the story. The author doesn't hide the barbaric crimes perpetuated against the Jewish people in the concentration camp but this is a love story and leaves you with a feeling of hope that love can conquer all obstacles. It is also a page turner as you become desperate to learn the Another great book from one of my favourite authors. I expected this book to be difficult to read given the main characters are Jewish and this is described as a Holocaust novel. However, I was surprisingly uplifted by the story. The author doesn't hide the barbaric crimes perpetuated against the Jewish people in the concentration camp but this is a love story and leaves you with a feeling of hope that love can conquer all obstacles. It is also a page turner as you become desperate to learn the outcome for our lovers and fear the worst. An emotional read, I was surprised to find it is based on a true story, which left me even more moved. Highly recommended!!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Ellie Midwood

    *** Reviewed By Joel R. Dennstedt for Readers’ Favorite *** The first and most important thing to say about Ellie Midwood, and by extension her intensely appealing historical novel No Woman’s Land: A Holocaust Novel, is that this author’s fine writing skills are superbly well honed. Any seasoned reader will immediately recognize a master at her craft, one both naturally gifted and creatively experienced, while the deepest pleasure desired by any avid reader, that derived from fully inhabiting a t *** Reviewed By Joel R. Dennstedt for Readers’ Favorite *** The first and most important thing to say about Ellie Midwood, and by extension her intensely appealing historical novel No Woman’s Land: A Holocaust Novel, is that this author’s fine writing skills are superbly well honed. Any seasoned reader will immediately recognize a master at her craft, one both naturally gifted and creatively experienced, while the deepest pleasure desired by any avid reader, that derived from fully inhabiting a truly gripping, fascinating, and compelling story, rapidly seeps into a last conscious thought: I can relax now. With such good writing, I can sit here, without effort, and thoroughly enjoy a marvelous ride. One is obligated to convey the plot of No Woman’s Land; the story of a young German/Jewish woman who suffers the terrors of the Holocaust as already told by many others, one who falls in love with her unanticipated warden/protector with whom, eventually, she plans an escape. But that tells you nothing of the wonder of this book, unless one also shares why Ellie Midwood’s writing creates such a compelling story and truly exceptional novel. Ms. Midwood’s writing is intensely evocative, bringing vividly to life a time and place seen with stark reality by those fated to be there and then. This author has a deeply satisfying sense of the dramatic, choosing perfect details to augment her action, with a perfect ear for dialogue, and an ultra-keen eye for descriptive detail. Add to this her retention of a commonly and rapidly fading ability to write complex sentences without sacrificing readability or flow, and as I said, you have a master at her craft. With a truly grand novel to her credit.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Bev Walkling

    I was very happy to be able to read an advance copy of The Girl Who Survived by Ellie Midwood courtesy of #NetGalley and #Bookouture. All opinions are my own. I have become a huge Ellie Midwood fan. Her books have consistently captured my attention and drawn me in as a reader and this one was no different in that respect. She seems to have an uncanny ability to find true stories of individuals affected by the Holocaust and share them as fiction while remaining true to the facts as they are availa I was very happy to be able to read an advance copy of The Girl Who Survived by Ellie Midwood courtesy of #NetGalley and #Bookouture. All opinions are my own. I have become a huge Ellie Midwood fan. Her books have consistently captured my attention and drawn me in as a reader and this one was no different in that respect. She seems to have an uncanny ability to find true stories of individuals affected by the Holocaust and share them as fiction while remaining true to the facts as they are available. This particular novel tells the story of Ilse Stein, a young Jewish woman from Germany and Willi Schulz, an officer of the German Luftwaffe who was assigned to work in Minsk (ByeloRussia) where he supervised brigades of women from the local ghetto. Ilse was a young girl of 18 when she and her two sisters arrived at the ghetto. She watched her mother being put into a vehicle where she would eventually be gassed, and her father had died in her arms in the cattle car that took them from Germany to Minsk. We do learn bits and pieces of her sisters’ stories throughout the book but first and foremost we learn about how Ilse coped, learning from a Russian Jew named Rivka how to survive and do what she could in terms of stealing gun parts which could be used by local partisans and then after Rivka’s death, learning from another Russia Jew named Lisa. Her hope was to eventually leave the ghetto with her sisters and escape to the forests where local partisans fought against the Germans. After a particularly awful Aktion by the SS, Ilse was chosen to join a brigade of women working under Officer Willi Schultz. The job of the brigade was to keep the German buildings heated by transferring wood to wherever it was needed – a difficult job done under extreme weather conditions. Ilse somehow managed to catch Schulz’s attention and he ended up putting her in charge of the brigade. As the novel progressed, so did their relationship, eventually becoming a full-blown affair which put both of them under suspicion from a local SS officer. Throughout the novel Schulz became more and more an ally of all the Jewish women who worked in his brigade and ultimately his actions helped to save their lives more than once. This is the kind of story that gets me searching to find out more about the characters, and if readers wish to do so, information is readily available online and a documentary was even made about Ilse and Willi. There were certain similarities between this book and another that I recently read and reviewed from Ellie Midwood – The Girl In The Striped Dress. That fact inspired novel also included a relationship between a Jewish prisoner and one of her German captors. It, however, was set in Auschwitz, while The Girl Who Survived is set in the Minsk ghetto which is likely a lot less familiar to most readers. I know it was for me. I discovered that this novel had previously been released under the title “No Woman’s Land” which was released in 2019. I did feel that the writing style differed somewhat between the two novels that I previously mentioned. I feel that Ellie has improved as a writer in the past two years. I enjoyed both novels but felt the writing was tighter in The Girl In The Striped Dress. Both books give lots of food for thought and would make great fodder for discussion for book groups. I would certainly recommend this one and would give it 4.5 stars.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Viga Boland

    When you flunk high school history, it’s a sure sign history isn’t your thing. But then, along comes an incredible book like No Woman’s Land, a novel based on the Holocaust by Ellie Midwood, and even a non-history fan like me is unable to put it down. Midwood has succeeded where all my history teachers failed: she grabbed my attention and held it for 277 pages as she shared the love story of two people who were never supposed to love each other: Ilse Stern, a German Jew and Willy Schultz, a Luft When you flunk high school history, it’s a sure sign history isn’t your thing. But then, along comes an incredible book like No Woman’s Land, a novel based on the Holocaust by Ellie Midwood, and even a non-history fan like me is unable to put it down. Midwood has succeeded where all my history teachers failed: she grabbed my attention and held it for 277 pages as she shared the love story of two people who were never supposed to love each other: Ilse Stern, a German Jew and Willy Schultz, a Luftwaffe Captain. And yes, these two people did exist and those are their real names. Several of the other characters named in No Woman’s Land also existed. But while the beautifully delivered love story was as touching as it gets, it was Midwood’s riveting descriptions of the inhumanity of the SS to the German and Russian Jews that made me choke up. Sure, I’ve seen plenty of documentaries and films based on that horrible time in history, but somehow, Midwood’s graphic details shocked me more. Perhaps it was because she helped us “see” the actual abuse and slaughter through Ilse’s eyes. As a reader, I felt I was watching the nearly frozen Jewish women lugging wood to heat the German officers’ offices. I could better see that German officer who liked children tossing them candies in the death pits while they waited to be massacred. And I could better feel Ilse’s own hopelessness as she and her suffering women friends faced each new day wondering if this was their last. What a horrid way to live month after month for no reason other than you are a Jew. Haunting and mind-blowing! If stories about the Holocaust are on your bucket list, make sure you add No Woman’s Land to it immediately. Ellie Midwood has thoroughly researched her subject and characters to bring truth into fiction. She has written other books on this subject and after reading this, I know why she is a “USA best selling and award-winning historical fiction author”. This lady knows how to deliver an unforgettable and haunting novel based on reality. 5 stars! ©Viga Boland, author and book reviewer http://www.vigaboland.com

  15. 5 out of 5

    Julie Powell

    I was given an ARC of this story and I thought it was a powerful and disturbing read. Its power came from the first-person narrative of a young woman seeing her family torn apart, her status reduced to nothing just because she was a Jew. Disturbing is the right word due to the actions perpetrated by those whose arrogance made them think they were above anyone except Aryans. Under the guise of National Socialism, with Adolf Hitler at the head, some Germans decided that torture and annihilation of I was given an ARC of this story and I thought it was a powerful and disturbing read. Its power came from the first-person narrative of a young woman seeing her family torn apart, her status reduced to nothing just because she was a Jew. Disturbing is the right word due to the actions perpetrated by those whose arrogance made them think they were above anyone except Aryans. Under the guise of National Socialism, with Adolf Hitler at the head, some Germans decided that torture and annihilation of the Jews (and others supposedly beneath them) was acceptable. This book shows the despicable actions of the Nazis and the existence within one of the ghettos for the Jews, Russians and Polish. It also demonstrates the strength and determination of those incarcerated. The Nazis delighted in cruelty, death and torture and those prisoners were in fear every day - was this the day of their death? The Nazis slaughtered at will. It showed the Nazis as cowards and bullies. The book shows just how low a human can go - absolutely disgusting and this history should never be forgotten. In addition, this story is about the romance between Ilse and a member of the Luftwaffe (German airforce). This was done well if only to show that not all Germans were bad (only the Nazis). In fact, Ilse was German and yet being a Jew made her worthless and stateless. Overall, it was a great story, however, it made me ashamed to be human. And looking at the world now, it appears that no lessons have been learned, the hate continues. A worthy read.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Carissa Lynch

    No Woman's Land is Midwood's best novel to date - I've said that before but I mean it: the writing is gorgeous, the story is atmospheric, and the characters feel so real, like I could reach out and touch them ... and as usual, Midwood's story has that "it-factor" that just sucks you right into the story from page one ... This is the ultimate love story, and it comes with the heaviest price and the highest stakes. "We live together, or we die together..." Oh, be still my heart! This was an emotio No Woman's Land is Midwood's best novel to date - I've said that before but I mean it: the writing is gorgeous, the story is atmospheric, and the characters feel so real, like I could reach out and touch them ... and as usual, Midwood's story has that "it-factor" that just sucks you right into the story from page one ... This is the ultimate love story, and it comes with the heaviest price and the highest stakes. "We live together, or we die together..." Oh, be still my heart! This was an emotional story to follow, but I loved every minute of it. Midwood presents a story rich in history and accuracy, but at the same time, it's so full of life and never boring ... I loved Illse and I admired her strength. Willy was your ultimate protector and I fell in love with him, just as she did ... You don't want to miss this genre-bending, romantic, thrilling tale based on true historical events! Midwood weaved this story together masterfully! Highly recommend it. Five huge stars!!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Kayla Krantz

    “I didn’t want romance. I only wanted a normal life.” I don’t think I could give this story enough praise! Rich with historical accuracy and vivid emotions, this is a love story for the ages. With beautiful writing, Miss Midwood is able to create an atmosphere in her story that is both tragic and compelling. The characters are very real which makes the story even harder to put down. Set in the era of World War II, the main character of this story is sent to live in a Minsk Ghetto. Life is hard and “I didn’t want romance. I only wanted a normal life.” I don’t think I could give this story enough praise! Rich with historical accuracy and vivid emotions, this is a love story for the ages. With beautiful writing, Miss Midwood is able to create an atmosphere in her story that is both tragic and compelling. The characters are very real which makes the story even harder to put down. Set in the era of World War II, the main character of this story is sent to live in a Minsk Ghetto. Life is hard and death seems to be around every corner. What she doesn’t expect though is despite all the darkness there is still love and hope waiting to be experienced.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Polly Krize

    I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Ellie Midwood is a new author to me, but I will definitely be searching out some of her other writing. The love between a German Jew and a Luftwaffe captain is poignantly explored, bringing all of the heartache that is expected during the Nazi regime. Haunting, and recommended. I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Ellie Midwood is a new author to me, but I will definitely be searching out some of her other writing. The love between a German Jew and a Luftwaffe captain is poignantly explored, bringing all of the heartache that is expected during the Nazi regime. Haunting, and recommended.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Pamela Allegretto

    Ellie Midwood has penned a beautiful, well-written, well-researched World War 2 drama. Her meticulous attention to detail is evident in her portrayal of the horrors and hardships: emotional and physical, suffered by the pragmatic and likeable protagonist. Ms. Midwood’s writing style and clever use of metaphors are to be applauded. What makes this exceptional story even more compelling is that it is based on real people. Highly recommended.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Kelly (aka jsybookworm)

    Wow this book was terrific, haunting, and harrowing at times but at other times extremely romantic and full of hope. I must award it 5 stars as nothing less would do! This is the true story of Ilse Stein and Willy Schultz and set during the holocaust. Willy is a German air force officer and Ilse is a young Jewish woman who, along with her two sisters, has been sent to a Minsk ghetto from Frankfurt. Willy and Ilse are on different sides of the war and yet both inexplicitly drawn to each other. Fir Wow this book was terrific, haunting, and harrowing at times but at other times extremely romantic and full of hope. I must award it 5 stars as nothing less would do! This is the true story of Ilse Stein and Willy Schultz and set during the holocaust. Willy is a German air force officer and Ilse is a young Jewish woman who, along with her two sisters, has been sent to a Minsk ghetto from Frankfurt. Willy and Ilse are on different sides of the war and yet both inexplicitly drawn to each other. First comes friendship and then romance, is it possible they might get their happily ever after despite all the horror of the holocaust? You must read this book to find out! Wow, just WOW! This book was truly brilliant. I must admit I had a lot of trepidation about reading this as I’m quite emotional and get easily upset but I did not need to be hesitant at all. I was quickly awed by Ilse’s survivor mentality, and I loved her. I won’t sugar coat it, there were a fair number of harrowing bits in this book however this is to be expected when reading a story set in the holocaust. I do feel the overall message the book gave was how resilient the human spirit can be and how much friendship matters when all seems lost. This book managed to do something no other book has ever managed to do with me and that is that I cried twice. The first time was over Willys kindness with a bed for the night and the second was when I finished the book. I’m so pleased I’ve read this book; I learnt a lot of new things that I didn’t know beforehand and as I said above it really does send a message of hope when all around there is nothing but darkness. Just an incredible story and I encourage everyone to read it. Thank you to NetGalley, Bookouture and Ellie Midwood for my advanced reading copy. Due out 7th September 2021.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Marquise

    I received a free copy through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I love unconventional WWII stories, of people who went against the grain and whose adventures make you even more convinced that, in the midst of the worst events one could possibly experience, it's still possible to be hopeful and still possible to find others that'll stick their neck out to make a principled stand. Ilse Stein's story is one of such a kind. Born In the town of Nidda in Germany in the early 1920s, she was a I received a free copy through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I love unconventional WWII stories, of people who went against the grain and whose adventures make you even more convinced that, in the midst of the worst events one could possibly experience, it's still possible to be hopeful and still possible to find others that'll stick their neck out to make a principled stand. Ilse Stein's story is one of such a kind. Born In the town of Nidda in Germany in the early 1920s, she was a pubescent girl when Hitler came to power and turned her life and that of millions of German Jews upside down, first with the draconian race laws, then by destroying her family's grocery during the Kristallnacht, forcing them all to migrate to the big city, Frankfürt, where their problems only continued. After their invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941, Germany implemented the Judenrein policy, which for the Steins meant deportation to Eastern Europe, leaving everything by force. The father doesn't survive the trip by cattle train, and the mother doesn't survive past arrival day either, so that leaves Ilse and her two sisters to fend off for themselves in the ghetto newly set up at Minsk, in Byelorussia. There, the naïve and more hopeful German Jews are at first laughed at and looked down on by the savvier and more jaded Östjuden, the local Russian-speaking Jews, who derisively call them Hamburgs. Ilse and her sisters go through terrifying experiences at the Minsk ghetto throughout the first weeks of their arrival, until their luck improves when, after a liquidation got thousands massacred, a Luftwaffe lieutenant complained bitterly to the SS officer in charge that they've carelessly killed "his Jews" alongside the other Jews and he's short of workers to take care of the building where different branches of the German armed forces, the SS, and Security Service are headquartered. He needs 200 new Jews to replace the shot Jews, he demands, and outspoken Ilse lands herself the position of leader of this ragtag brigade of Jews working for the Luftwaffe after impulsively speaking out of turn during roll call in a way that impressed the officer, Willy Schultz. She has obviously made quite the deep impression on Schultz, who starts treating her startlingly well from the start. He gives her gifts of extra ration coupons, food she takes to the ghetto to share with her sisters and others, clothes, and so on; eventually securing for her the job of personal typist for his supply department. The other women in the brigade, especially her best friend Liza, notice the special treatment the officer towards Ilse, but they're too happy about the benefits coming from it that all they do is tease her about her feelings. Because it's undeniable that Lieutenant Schulz is falling for Ilse, and she for him. And before you ask, yes, these two do have a love story. Ilse and Willy Yes, exactly, a love story between an Aryan German and a German Jew. It's verboten stuff. People could be (and were) executed for romantic liaisons of this kind. But Schultz doesn't care that it might cost him his position, his rank, and his life. He works tirelessly to protect Ilse alone at first, then her sisters, and soon the entire brigade of Jewish women working for his department, dodging the malicious attentions of an overzealous SS-Unterscharführer bent on catching him redhanded, and keeping the boss of the genocidal bunch, the drink-loving SS-Sturmbannführer Bröger, drunk enough and bribed enough that he doesn't care much about whatever Willy is doing with his Jews. This part reminded me a bit of Oskar Schindler's way of dealing with Amon Goeth and other SS higher-ups, and just like Schindler, the newly promoted Hauptmann Willy Schulz ends up doing something that, in my opinion, would've been worthy of a Righteous Amongst the Nations honour. But, although The Girl Who Survived ends on a cheerful note of hope for the future, the war isn't over yet and so you wonder if there must be more to the real life story that the novel doesn't cover. In her Author's Note by the end, Ellie Midwood encourages readers curious about the fate of Ilse and Willy to write to her and ask, but if you'd like to find out on your own as well as learn what parts are true and what parts are subject to literary licence, you could also watch the documentary that inspired the author to write this novel, The Jewess and the Captain. It's fascinating! I enjoyed learning about this story, so completely unknown to me in spite of WWII being one of my two top periods for historical fiction and non-fiction to read. I did know about stories with this same "forbidden to exist" theme, like that of Helena Citrónová and Franz Wunsch, and others included in a WWII history book I own, but it doesn't have this one; and that makes me wonder how many little-known stories like this exist that aren't as publicised and known thanks to Hollywood's magic wand. I'm therefore very appreciative of Midwood's decision to focus on these stories and bring them to us; from what I've seen and read in her notes, she does like to write about the lesser-known personal stories, the slice-of-life snippets that get engulfed by and buried by the chaos of global war. Personally, I would've preferred it hadn't ended at the point it did but had expanded to tell everything in Ilse and Willy's life later on. Although I liked the story, I can't say I found the writing style easy. Midwood writes in first person POV here, but gives Ilse's voice a weird "double inner monologue" style. By which I mean she uses the rule of italicising inner monologue & thoughts that's used in third person POV narration, and not in first person POV precisely because first person POV is already an inner voice narration. It's as if when writing a letter I had to put my thoughts in italics. That shouldn't be done; it doesn't make any sense, and it's unnecessarily grating, interfering with the flow of the first person narration and thus with getting the character's "voice" across smoothly. Another aspect that made reading harder is the overuse of very long paragraphs of pure inner monologue, with repetitive phrases and catchphrases thrown in often, and the oddly placed line breaks with commas and semicolons. I would hope this is edited and smoothed out, for it really takes out from the otherwise lovely and poignant storytelling.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Shirley McAllister

    Willie and Ilse A Nazi concentration camp is an unlikely place for two people to find love, however , more unlikely is the love between a Nazi officer and a Jewish girl. This is the story of Willie and Ilse. Willie is a reluctant Nazi in that he does not believe in the murdering of the Jewish people and abhors the SS in their terror tactics. He falls in love with Ilse and protects her, her two sisters Lilly and Lori and his 200 Jewish women workers under his command from being slaughtered by the Willie and Ilse A Nazi concentration camp is an unlikely place for two people to find love, however , more unlikely is the love between a Nazi officer and a Jewish girl. This is the story of Willie and Ilse. Willie is a reluctant Nazi in that he does not believe in the murdering of the Jewish people and abhors the SS in their terror tactics. He falls in love with Ilse and protects her, her two sisters Lilly and Lori and his 200 Jewish women workers under his command from being slaughtered by the SS. Their love story, survival and escape is contained in this book. Lizzie a communist and soviet Jew is one of the main characters with the partisan group smuggling out prisoners 5 at a time to join the partisan's in the forest. The book is very well written, the characters are human and believable good and bad. The situation is sad and tragic but it is a story that needs to be told and remembered. My heart hurt at times....and a few tears fell especially when reading about the children and the pit. Even with such horrible events taking place there are so many good human qualities that the good mixes with the bad and one does know that humanity still existed. This book needs to be read I would highly recommend it. Thanks to Ellie Midwood, Bookouture and NetGalley for allowing me to read a complimentary copy of the book for my honest review.

  23. 5 out of 5

    theliterateleprechaun

    Each of Ellie Midwood’s historical fiction novels feature the holocaust, yet somehow she manages to make each one unique and continues to educate readers about such a dark time in history. Ellie, who has been studying WW2 since she was 15 years old, has the ability to make history come alive and make it feel personal for each reader. Her stories bring the harsh reality of life in a concentration camp into focus, highlighting the brave people who do what they can to survive another day. Each is h Each of Ellie Midwood’s historical fiction novels feature the holocaust, yet somehow she manages to make each one unique and continues to educate readers about such a dark time in history. Ellie, who has been studying WW2 since she was 15 years old, has the ability to make history come alive and make it feel personal for each reader. Her stories bring the harsh reality of life in a concentration camp into focus, highlighting the brave people who do what they can to survive another day. Each is historically accurate, rich in detail, and only slight embellishments are made on actual fact. It’s obvious that she carefully listened and absorbed her grandfather's war stories. Volunteering at 17, he became a Junior Sergeant in the 2nd Guards Tank Army of the First Belorussian Front and was among the troops that took Berlin and Reichstag. Each time a new book is released, it’s as though Midwood is sowing another seed, ensuring that history doesn’t repeat itself. She wants us to know about the courage, resilience, and self-sacrifice of her characters, real people, so that their example inspires readers to be better people, to stand up for what’s right, to give a voice to the ones who’ve been silenced, and to protect the ones who can’t protect themselves. MIdwood’s story tells of a Luftwaffe officer, Captain Willy Schultz, who met his love, Ilse in the Minsk ghetto in 1942, which led to him changing sides and becoming a saboteur of the ghetto, saving many from inevitable death. Like the other concentration camps, the Minsk ghetto was hell on earth. Eighteen year old Ilse and her German Jewish family were transported to the Minsk ghetto in 1941. The ghetto, created after the German invasion of the Soviet Union, was one of the largest in Belorussian SSR. Within the ghetto, the Sonderghetto, a ghetto within a ghetto, was set up to keep the ‘Hamburg Jews’ separate from the local (Russian) Jews. Communicating through Yiddish, the Germans can communicate with the Russians and a bond is forged in an effort to survive. In defiance and partly as a method of escape, Ilse joins others in sneaking out, piece by piece, items from the munitions factory. Midwood’s riveting account deals with the devastating destiny of the Jews, the inhumanity of the SS, and the blatant courage and determination of the partisan movement involving actual people from within the confines of the barbed wire and fencing. Ellie brings such a passion for the subject and a plethora of knowledge to the table when she pours her heart and soul into each novel. She pours life into her characters, real people, and brings to life the horrors of capture under the German regime. In a place where love is least expected, it blossoms, and Midwood masterfully includes us in Ilse and Willy’s story. Part of a trio of women in the holocaust, ‘The Girl In The Striped Dress’ and ‘The Girl Who Survived’ beg to be added to historical fiction lovers reading lists. Publishes September 7, 2021. I was gifted this advance copy by Ellie MIdwood, Bookouture and NetGalley and was under no obligation to provide a review.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

    Ilse Stein and her family are Germans in 1941. That is, until the rights of the German Jews are stripped, leaving them without land, without a home. Ilse and her sisters are transported to the Minsk Ghetto. The trip was difficult and they are left with nothing in the Minsk winter. Determined that her and her sister will survive, Ilse works diligently at the tasks given to her by the people who took everything away. While in the Ghetto Ilse befriends Rivka, a member of the underground resistance. Ilse Stein and her family are Germans in 1941. That is, until the rights of the German Jews are stripped, leaving them without land, without a home. Ilse and her sisters are transported to the Minsk Ghetto. The trip was difficult and they are left with nothing in the Minsk winter. Determined that her and her sister will survive, Ilse works diligently at the tasks given to her by the people who took everything away. While in the Ghetto Ilse befriends Rivka, a member of the underground resistance. Ilse begins to take part in small acts of resistance to help their survival. However, after a massacre of most of their work group performed by the SS, hope seems lost. A Luftwaffe officer, Willy Shultz takes over the group and shows favor toward Ilse. Willy does everything he can to keep them together and offers Ilse food and clothing to take back to the girls. As Ilse and Willy spend time together, their affection grows. However, the situation they are in has tremendous consequences for their emotions. Ilse and Willy must find out how to navigate much more than their feelings for each other as the war rages on and their futures become unclear. Based on a true story, No Woman's Land is an emotional historical romance. Right from the beginning, the slow spread of hate and anti-Antisemitism is shown through Ilse's eyes. The writing shows the gradual but deliberate spread of hate and how easily it caught on and and became normalized to make an entire people were made to feel less than others and eventually kill them off. Unfortunately, this is still a good lesson for today. As Ilse watches what is happening around her, she is upset at being treated differently, but feels thankful at times that she isn't treated as poorly as other Jews. Once Ilse and her family were moved out of their homes, the writing very accurately portrayed what people went through in transport and in the Ghetto. The pogroms in the Ghettos were bloody, violent and senseless. Ilse, Willy and Rivka showed tremendous strength and hope through the worst of times. I was fascinated to learn about the amazing members of the Resistance within the Ghetto and the surrounding towns as well as the German soldiers who used their power to help where they could. Ilse and Willy's love grew gradually in the darkest of times and in the sweetest of ways; the effortless writing conveyed the magnitude of the many emotions seamlessly. Overall, No Woman's Land is an astounding story of hope, bravery, resistance, resilience and love. This book was received for free in return for an honest review.

  25. 5 out of 5

    S.R. Mallery

    ***** The Kind of Bravery Not Always Talked About Meticulously based on real facts, events, and characters, this fast became one of my favorites among Midwood’s novels. Starting out in 1943 and the spoken words, “We live together or we die together,” we get just a hint of a couple’s devotion, but don’t know who they are, how they came together, or what that powerful statement means. Instantly, I wanted to find out more. Three years earlier, in 1940, we learn of Ilse Stein, a Jewish girl, living ***** The Kind of Bravery Not Always Talked About Meticulously based on real facts, events, and characters, this fast became one of my favorites among Midwood’s novels. Starting out in 1943 and the spoken words, “We live together or we die together,” we get just a hint of a couple’s devotion, but don’t know who they are, how they came together, or what that powerful statement means. Instantly, I wanted to find out more. Three years earlier, in 1940, we learn of Ilse Stein, a Jewish girl, living with her family in the little German town of Nidda, where they had always enjoyed the quiet life. But by 1940, that was no longer possible. Curfews and people she’d known her whole life, now propagandized into not only distrusting her family, but also hating all Jews as well was horrifying enough. But when the advent of Kristallnacht came and her father’s grocery store was raided and destroyed, they all moved away, to where “the war was in progress yet Frankfurt appeared to be entirely oblivious to it.” Yet that fact proved false. In Midwood’s highly descriptive style, we witness the chilling step-by-step ‘legal’ withdrawal of her people’s rights by the Nazi government, and how Ilse and what’s left of her family are forced to live in mortal fear every hour of every day in a ghetto in Minsk. Yet life does come with surprises. For it is in this ghetto that she makes friends with Liza, a Communist Partisan, and begins to work for a Luftwaffe captain in charge of operations, Willy Schultz. What I’ve always appreciated about this author is the fact that her characters are always multi-dimensional––not simply good or bad. Willy Schultz is a perfect example of that. He is a loyal German pilot, but first and foremost, he is a human being. He refuses to be brutal to the people living there under him, especially Ilse. And as their relationship blossoms, in spite of the horror surrounding them, in spite of the danger he himself faces for being with her, there is one constant in their lives together. No matter what, Willy will love, cherish, and try to protect her. And for that reason, I truly cheered for them both––with tears in my eyes. Bravo, Ms Midwood!

  26. 4 out of 5

    Yunru

    Everyone needs to read this. This novel gives equal attention to the Holocaust horrors and the lifesaving love between the Nazi officer Willy and the Holocaust prisoner Ilse. Without discounting the atrocities and mass suffering, it highlights the slim glimmer of hope and optimism, no matter how dim, during one of the darkest times of history. I found greater appreciation for this novel when I realized it was based on a true story. All the characters existed in history, and all events echoed the Everyone needs to read this. This novel gives equal attention to the Holocaust horrors and the lifesaving love between the Nazi officer Willy and the Holocaust prisoner Ilse. Without discounting the atrocities and mass suffering, it highlights the slim glimmer of hope and optimism, no matter how dim, during one of the darkest times of history. I found greater appreciation for this novel when I realized it was based on a true story. All the characters existed in history, and all events echoed the documentary, "The Jewess and the Captain" (1996). I loved how the author explored the complex progression of Ilse Stein and Willy's relationship - the political impossibility and the emotional contradictions of the love that grew because of the Holocaust. This premise of a Nazi officer falling in love and saving a Jewish girl from the ghettos seemed almost impossible to believe at first, but as I, alongside Ilse, got to know Willy and his heart of gold, we began to trust and hope that not all humans are susceptible to the Milgram effect (or even the Stanford prison experiment). That despite his ability to hurt and betray Ilse, Willy will deliver on his promise to save Ilse and her family and friends from their doomed fate, even if it would cost him his life. Not everyone when placed in positions of authority turn into those SS officers we see in the Minsk ghettos. The Willys and Ottos of the world keep this hope of humanity alive, that not all compassion and love had been wiped out. Yet, Willy and Otto were most unfortunately the minority. In this novel, we see the unspeakable suffering of the Holocaust. Novels like this must continue to keep the horrors alive, so that history forbids anything like war, genocide, and hate to ever repeat.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Pam

    No Woman’s Land: A Holocaust Novel was written by Ellie Midwood. She became interested in history, especially that of the Holocaust, due to the stories she was told by her Grandfather who had been a Junior Sergeant in the 2nd Guards Tank Army of the First Belorussian Front. After extensive research, she set out to tell the story if Ilse Stein and Willy Schultz. Their story is true and the background material of their childhoods is also true. Most of the people in the Minsk ghetto of importance a No Woman’s Land: A Holocaust Novel was written by Ellie Midwood. She became interested in history, especially that of the Holocaust, due to the stories she was told by her Grandfather who had been a Junior Sergeant in the 2nd Guards Tank Army of the First Belorussian Front. After extensive research, she set out to tell the story if Ilse Stein and Willy Schultz. Their story is true and the background material of their childhoods is also true. Most of the people in the Minsk ghetto of importance are also true. Ellie has taken the truth and interspersed it with fiction to create this wonderful book. Through this book, the reader can get a good idea of the ordeal some of the German officers felt when confronted with what was actually happening. Willy, as well as other officers, were sickened by what was happening and looked for ways to mitigate the circumstances of the Jews they came into contact with as well as giving information to the partisans and finding ways to defect. Although a romance between a Jew and a German officer seems improbable, it did happen although rarely. The book is well-written and easy to read. It is difficult to put down as you want to know what is coming next. When will they get caught and what will happen then? The only downfall of the book is that what happens to Ilse and Willy after they join the partisans is not given. I would have wished their story would have been completed without my having to do research on my own. I do highly recommend this book to Holocaust educators as it gives accurate scenes about the Minsk ghetto and massacre.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Heil

    As I expected, Ellie Midwood has once again given us a novel that is truly fantastic. Unlike her other works (or at least most of them) Ellie tells the true of Ilse Stein and Willy Schultz, a Jewish girl in the Minski ghetto and a Luftwaffe captain who fall in love despite their circumstances. One talent that Ms. Midwood has is that she is able to create romantic couples that are both realistic and ones that the reader cheers for. I thought she had achieved this the most with Ernst and Annalise As I expected, Ellie Midwood has once again given us a novel that is truly fantastic. Unlike her other works (or at least most of them) Ellie tells the true of Ilse Stein and Willy Schultz, a Jewish girl in the Minski ghetto and a Luftwaffe captain who fall in love despite their circumstances. One talent that Ms. Midwood has is that she is able to create romantic couples that are both realistic and ones that the reader cheers for. I thought she had achieved this the most with Ernst and Annalise in The Girl from Berlin series (highly recommended btw) but her portrayal of Ilse and Willy very nearly beats them out. As my rating suggests, there is nothing that I would change about this book. Perhaps I would suggest giving the reader a longer epilogue which explains what happened to Willy and Ilse in more detail but that is such a minor suggestion that it would be wrong to downgrade this book because of it (and yes I did spend fifteen minutes after finishing the book researching what happened to them). No Woman's Land can be a hard read at times because of its subject matter but Willy and Ilse's story gives the reader hope that one day everyone will be accepted for their differences and that is perhaps the best thing about it.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Saskia

    A new standalone novel taking place during the Holocaust. In this story we follow Ilse who after a mostly carefree childhood is shipped off with her family to Minsk Ghetto. It shows the absolute horrors of life in the ghetto, but also that love and friendship spring and flourish in the most unexpected places. Ilse is wonderful characters. Smart and strong. She dreams, but is also very practical and fierce to the people she loves. War isn’t black and white, just as people aren’t either. There are A new standalone novel taking place during the Holocaust. In this story we follow Ilse who after a mostly carefree childhood is shipped off with her family to Minsk Ghetto. It shows the absolute horrors of life in the ghetto, but also that love and friendship spring and flourish in the most unexpected places. Ilse is wonderful characters. Smart and strong. She dreams, but is also very practical and fierce to the people she loves. War isn’t black and white, just as people aren’t either. There are good on bad people of both sides. One of my favorite lines was “ Who would have thought that words could hold so much power, to stir so much hatred that it would eventually lead to genocide?”.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Ruby Papciak

    I bow to you Ms. Midwood for your ability to weave such an excellent story that has me riding an elevator that stops at different emotional floors. You have given these characters such a voice that it was easy to forget I was only reading. Now I say easy to forget I was reading, but that's not to say it was an easy read. Because that is so far from the truth. The subject matter is not an easy one, it's not a purely fictional setting, and it certainly is not a quick read. I have had to put it dow I bow to you Ms. Midwood for your ability to weave such an excellent story that has me riding an elevator that stops at different emotional floors. You have given these characters such a voice that it was easy to forget I was only reading. Now I say easy to forget I was reading, but that's not to say it was an easy read. Because that is so far from the truth. The subject matter is not an easy one, it's not a purely fictional setting, and it certainly is not a quick read. I have had to put it down several times to regather myself before continuing. The more horrifying thing is these events really did happen. For that, thank you for shining a light in an otherwise bleak time. I would definitely recommend this book.

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