The Price Of Silence
The Woman Outside The Walls by Suzanne Goldring is a powerful dual timeline novel that I just could not put down. It is a story that needs to be told in memory of the six million innocents, a quarter of which were children.
The novel is set in Germany mainly during World War II and in London in 2016. The young girl in the war has become the ninety year old in 2016. She has a life full of guilt and regrets, hiding a dreadful secret over the years. Her life has been a series of identities and fearful of a knock on the door. We could blame her youth for her silence, but we all have choices to make and innately know what is wrong and what is right. Innocent questions from a young teen, studying World War II send her back down the years.
The chapters alternate the time periods and voices to tell the tale. The narrative is powerful. We see that not all Germans were Nazis, but to remain silent was to condone events.
Suzanne Goldring shows the innocence and loyalty of childhood as two four year olds in 1929 Germany played quite happily together, even after the Nuremburg Laws were passed. Friendship not religion mattered until innocence is eroded by a disappearance.
Young lives had choices taken away as they were expected to behave in certain ways for ‘the Fatherland’. Deep down they would know certain actions were wrong but they kept silent.
Germany in 1945 was a country destroyed. People survived doing whatever was necessary for food. The moral code drastically slipped as food was more important than morals. A group of children banded together in Hamburg after their homes and parents were taken from them by the bombing raids. They are a small loyal band, functioning as a family.
With the arrival of the British and Americans comes hope for many. Some servicemen had a dreadfully low moral code too. Others had kind hearts.
The Woman Outside The Walls is a tale of survival. It is a tale of hard choices and of guilt. To echo Edmund Burke, “for evil to prevail it just needs good men to do nothing.” Silence is no excuse for the dreadful suffering and evil. After the silence comes the guilt that will last a lifetime.
Suzanne Goldring has produced a marvellous tale from a differing point of view. We do not often see events of World War II through the eyes of a German girl. I can highly recommend it.