Munich Girl by Phyllis Edgerly Ring
Publisher: Whole Sky Books (November 14, 2015)
Category: Historical Fiction, WWII, Germany, Family Saga
Tour date: Feb 1-Mar 31, 2017
Available in Print & ebook, 356 pages
Description of Munich Girl by Phyllis Edgerly Ring
The Munich Girl: A novel of the legacies that outlast war.
The past may not be done with us. What secrets is a portrait of Eva Braun hiding?
Anna Dahlberg grew up eating dinner under her father’s war-trophy portrait of Eva Braun. Fifty years after the war, she discovers what he never did—that her mother and Hitler’s mistress were friends.
Plunged into the world of the “ordinary” Munich girl who was her mother’s confidante—and a tyrant’s lover—Anna uncovers long-buried secrets and unknown reaches of her heart, to reveal the enduring power of love in the legacies that always outlast war.
Fiction Finalist in 2016 Eric Hoffer Book Awards
Praise for Munich Girl by Phyllis Edgerly Ring
“I was drawn in by Phyllis Ring’s economical and expressive language. Then the story took over! Protagonist Anna Dahlberg must face the emotional fallout from a traumatic plane crash, while simultaneously uncovering the first clues in a shocking generational mystery involving key players in the Third Reich. Everything’s complicated by a new romance that may help her overcome the past and find her true inner strength. But is it real? Love can manifest itself in enigmatic–and unexpected–ways.”- Elizabeth Sims, author and contributing editor at Writer’s Digestmagazine
“… fresh perspective of German women at opposing ends of the warring spectrum … a beautiful story of enduring friendship and the lengths people will go to for love.”- The Stellar Review
“So persuasive is this novel that, before I could believe it was in fact a piece of fiction, I contacted the author and asked where she did her research and where she came up with the idea.”-Leslie Handler, The Philadelphia Inquirer
“This book weaves real life with fiction beautifully and makes you want to know more about the cast of characters. This is a book that you may have a hard time remembering it is fiction as you turn the pages. That’s how well the author brings her characters to life. This book was stunning. I highly recommend it to anyone that loves this time period.”-A Chick Who Reads
“The Munich Girl by Phyllis Edgerly Ring is an elegant historical fiction novel of Eva Braun. Besides being Adolph Hitler’s mistress (and short-lived wife) little is known about this woman in history. Peggy’s diary entries were applied seamlessly blending past with the present. I yearned to enter the streets of 1940s Germany and discover the meaning behind a simple portrait and view the forging of an unlikely friendship. Phyllis Edgerly Ring has written a superbly researched novel of a historical figure whose’ story is impeccably told.”-Whitney, First Impression Reviews
Interview With Phyllis Edgerly Ring
Thanks so much for this opportunity, Teddy.
Which character do you love to hate?
Hitler’s not actually a character in the novel, though he’s a part of the story, of course, and is the most-likely-to-be-hated. A rather detestable character is the protagonist’s (Anna’s) husband, Lowell. I was told at one point that perhaps I needed to give him more “human” aspects. For me, however, he represents that kind of blindly insistent narcissism that actually is more inclined to reject such redeeming qualities in itself. Yup, Lowell is reprehensible, one reader’s word for his maddening arrogance.
Please tell us something about the book that is not in the summary.
Beyond being a story in which Hitler’s mistress (later wife) is a character, this story revolves around the inner bargains women make with themselves in order to help others achieve happiness or satisfaction — often by denying themselves those very things. Another theme is the secrets we keep, and what we hope to gain by doing so, and the degree of control we believe we have in life, and what sort of price we’re willing to pay for it. A paradox that the story underscores is that often, while others (in this case, men) appear to have overt control, people – the women in this story — often make use of what looks like compliance in order to employ more secretive kinds of control, behind the scenes.
How much time and effort went into your research for the book?
I read more than 100 books about the time period in Germany and about Eva Braun’s life. I watched the films she had made, and spent many hours reviewing hundreds of her photographs. Eventually, I made two trips to the U.S. National Archives to see photo albums of hers that were confiscated by the Allies after the war. I also spent time in various locales in Germany that are a part of the story. In all that time I spent looking at Braun’s photographs and films, I became familiar with the interiors and exteriors of many of the novel’s settings as they would have appeared during the 1930s and ’40s. One fun element of research for me is a growing collection of vintage postcards I’ve found that show such scenes from the story as they appeared during that era.
Tell us about your cover. Did you design it yourself?
I’m forever grateful to designer Marina Kirsch for the cover of The Munich Girl. The image of Eva Braun there echoes that of the portrait of Braun that is a key part of the novel’s story. The image is from the very first photo of herself that Braun gave (at age 17) to her much-older, now-infamous lover. The background behind her on the book’s cover is one of my favourite places in Germany. While it doesn’t happen to be Munich, it evokes the atmosphere of many of the settings in the story.
What are you currently working on?
My current project is a memoir-style reflection about where this novel has led me. Nothing about it is what I would ever have imagined or predicted on my writing path, and there are experiences I’ve had in the course of this book’s coming together that I’m probably never going to be able to understand, let alone explain. One of the most personally stunning was a phone call I received while I was doing research in Germany that neither the person on the other end nor I had initiated – twice in a row! She was someone with whom I was glad to connect in relation to my research, and she had a delightfully philosophical view about “connections” being made in such a way. She told me: “Well, isn’t this interesting? I always pay extra attention when the unexpected like this happens. I think it’s much more than coincidence.” The process of how this novel came together would prove her right over and over again.
I’m also working on historical fiction set in late 19th-century New England.
What is your favorite scene in the book? Why?
I must admit that it’s hard for me to choose one. In this story based on a woman’s secret friendship with Hitler’s mistress, I suppose it’s the scene in which the character, Peggy, finds out that the mystery woman who died alongside Hitler was her friend, Eva Braun. And she never knew that Hitler was the man Eva loved. (In part because Braun had to keep this role in his life an invisible secret.) This scene of Peggy’s discoveries about Eva after her death called for a potent yet unusual mixture of heartbreak and outrage. The scene is set in a church, and I was pulled irresistibly into a big, empty one in Germany the day before I wrote it. I’ve sometimes felt that the scene was sown for me, right there in that cold, echoing space, because it was like a memory as I drafted it down early the next morning.
I always enjoy looking at the names that authors choose to give their characters. How do you create names for your characters?
In a way that’s still hard to explain, characters always assert their own names. It’s as if I’m listening, eavesdropping, and overhear their names
Coincidentally (or not) the three most domineering men in the story turn out to have different names that mean the same thing: “wolf.” Hitler (Adolf), Anna’s husband, Lowell, and her father, Rod. This completely surprised me, as “wolf” was an alter-ego name Hitler often used, with a rather sinister edge. I had no idea until all three of these characters already had these names that this was the case. It was a rather startling discovery. The character of Peggy, who befriends Eva Braun, shares my mother’s name, plus a few elements of my mother’s British wartime experience. And the protagonist Anna, Peggy’s daughter, though she has a simple, common-sounding name, actually has a key to her mother’s relationship with Eva hidden in her name, something that is eventually revealed in the story.
Is there a question that you would have liked me or another blogger to ask but didn’t?
I just want to mention that one of my greatest privileges is hearing from readers with their thoughts and reflections about The Munich Girl. They can contact me at info[at]phyllisring[dot]com. Thanks very much again for this interview, Teddy. ☺
About Phyllis Edgerly Ring
Author Phyllis Edgerly Ring lives in New England and returns as often as she can to her childhood home in Germany. Her years there left her with a deep desire to understand the experience of Germans during the Second World War. She has studied plant sciences and ecology, worked as a nurse, been a magazine writer and editor, taught English to kindergartners in China, and served as program director at a Baha’i conference center in Maine.
She is also author of the novel, Snow Fence Road, and the inspirational nonfiction, Life at First Sight: Finding the Divine in the Details. Her book for children, Jamila Does Not Want a Bat in Her House, is scheduled for release by Bellwood Press in early 2017.
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