Resistance Women

Resistance Women

by Jennifer Chiaverini


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One of BookBub's best historical novels of the year and Oprah magazine's buzziest books of the month.

From the New York Times bestselling author of Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker, an enthralling historical saga that recreates the danger, romance, and sacrifice of an era and brings to life one courageous, passionate American—Mildred Fish Harnack—and her circle of women friends who waged a clandestine battle against Hitler in Nazi Berlin.

After Wisconsin graduate student Mildred Fish marries brilliant German economist Arvid Harnack, she accompanies him to his German homeland, where a promising future awaits. In the thriving intellectual culture of 1930s Berlin, the newlyweds create a rich new life filled with love, friendships, and rewarding work—but the rise of a malevolent new political faction inexorably changes their fate.

As Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party wield violence and lies to seize power, Mildred, Arvid, and their friends resolve to resist. Mildred gathers intelligence for her American contacts, including Martha Dodd, the vivacious and very modern daughter of the US ambassador. Her German friends, aspiring author Greta Kuckoff and literature student Sara Weitz, risk their lives to collect information from journalists, military officers, and officials within the highest levels of the Nazi regime.

For years, Mildred’s network stealthily fights to bring down the Third Reich from within. But when Nazi radio operatives detect an errant Russian signal, the Harnack resistance cell is exposed, with fatal consequences.

Inspired by actual events, Resistance Women is an enthralling, unforgettable story of ordinary people determined to resist the rise of evil, sacrificing their own lives and liberty to fight injustice and defend the oppressed.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062841100
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 05/14/2019
Pages: 608
Sales rank: 6,662
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.80(d)

About the Author

Jennifer Chiaverini is the New York Times bestselling author of several acclaimed historical novels and the beloved Elm Creek Quilts series. A graduate of the University of Notre Dame and the University of Chicago, she lives with her husband and two sons in Madison, Wisconsin.

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Resistance Women: A Novel 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 15 reviews.
Anonymous 12 months ago
Excellent account of the strength of women during horrific times. I could not put this book down ! It reflects the present time we live in. We must engage and speak before it becomes too late.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
gaele More than 1 year ago
Told in 3 different perspectives and spanning the years from 1929 through 1946 in an ever-increasingly difficult German climate, Chiaverini mixes fact and imagined information, as well as a character that is an amalgam of the many Jewish women of her day, the story tells of the German Resistance: those determined to do what they can to stop the growth of the Reich and the influence of Hitler on both German and World citizens alike. Mildred, Greta and Sara are all literary minded women, scholarly and thinking only to earn their doctorates and begin their lives as their lives are indelibly altered. Mildred, an American married to a German that she met at the University of Wisconsin, has forgone her life in the states (and her doctoral work) to teach American Lit in Germany. Greta worked from modest means in a small German town to get to America to work on her doctorate. Sara is the youngest daughter with an older brother working for a newspaper and her sister married to a Captain of the Wehrmacht, she’s also dating a German boy, a Christian who travels frequently for work. These three, through their salons and intellectual pursuits happen to come together in Berlin: and with first the increase in anti-fascist tensions that quickly escalates to Hitler’s election and quick rise to “chancellor” they are all quietly (and not so) working behind the scenes to pass information to the Americans, British and Russians in order to show the ‘real story”. We move through their increased levels of worry and vigilance as the restrictions and dangers increase, and the stakes for them all increase: messages to smuggled documents, struggles over emigration and curfews, and always, the ever-present danger of discovery. Operating in small groups, with few having connections to more than one, the three are key to showing the simple and subtle changes to citizens in a world where discrimination, anger and hate are not only commonplace but expected, if the leader is any sort of model. These were three women who didn’t and couldn’t simply ignore the change in the streets or the discriminations, helping others, speaking frankly, even going so far as to educate others to discern propaganda from actual news: it was a chilling comparison to the political climate today, as well as an engrossing and hugely emotionally gripping read. Told in four parts in blocks of 3 or 4 months the story flows with easily recognizable historic events, descriptions and imagery that invokes an emotional and palpable response. Most certainly this a read for those who want some ‘feel’ for just how quickly things can go pear-shaped, as well as a treatise declaiming the selfish attitude of those not speaking out because “they” or “their group” was untouched. I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher via Edelweiss for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
Anonymous 11 months ago
Lee27614 2 days ago
A book to make Minnesotans PROUD. Based on real people, factual events, and a warning to all of us as we read and see the slow, methodical erosion of laws and rights while populism rules - and ends in disaster for all who cheeped and those who did not. 65,811,500 million people died in WWII and 416,500 American soldiers - not counting the wounded, the crippled for life. As an American veteran, I wish all women would read this book.
wjane 9 months ago
Resistance Women by Jennifer Chiaverini World War II Historical Fiction is one of the best books I have read this year. There are are so many true facts it almost reads like non fiction. The characters, their lives and details are very realistic. I did not see any political basis with the characters no matter their nationality. Every German, Russian or American character was portrayed as human with good traits and bad. I was encouraged by the challenge that each person is responsible to struggle against the evil in this world.
rendezvous_with_reading 10 months ago
Real Life Resistance #partner Thank you @goodreads and @williammorrowbooks for this free copy! American, Mildred Fish met German economist Arvid Harnack at the University of Wisconsin and after their marriage returned with him to live in Berlin. In the 1930s, the future seemed bright and they had their whole lives ahead of them. But a new rising political party headed by Adolf Hitler was starting to have an impact on people's thinking and actions. Alarmed Mildred, Arvid and their friends resolve to resist. Among Mildred's friends are author Greta Kuckhoff and literary student Sara Weitz. Soon they are risking their lives to funnel intelligence through American contacts like journalists, military officers, and Martha Dodd, the daughter of the US ambassador. For years, their network secretively fights against the Third Reich from within. But when an errant Russian signal is detected by Nazi radio operatives, the Harnack resistance cell is exposed with severe consequences. Have you ever wondered how the evil ideas Hitler promoted could take hold in a society and lead to the persecution and death of thousands? I've always found it hard to comprehend how so many were led along in this way. Resistance Women spans this period in history from 1929 to 1946. This author always is so meticulous with her research and I don't think I've ever read a novel that helped me see so clearly how gradually Hitler rose to power, and little by little convinced people to treat Jews and other groups as less than human beings. The parallels to some events in our own present day are alarming. The fact that this novel is inspired by actual people and events makes it all the more moving. These were ordinary people from various backgrounds and occupations, that could see through the propaganda. They weren't part of some large organization, but on their own they chose to organize and resist the evil around them at great sacrifice. At 591 pages, this novel is a commitment. I chose to use an audiobook along with my hard copy to buy out more reading time. A letter included from the author mentions that Mildred Fish Harnack is well known in modern Germany, where streets and schools have been named after her. A literary scholar and Nazi resistance fighter, Mildred was the only American woman whose execution during the war was personally ordered by Hitler. Yet here in the US, her native country, she is largely unknown. I'm so glad her story is being recognized.
Susan Fink 11 months ago
I was rather reluctant to start this book but once I did, I could not put it down. I am in awe of the courage of these women who saw their country's personality slipping away month by month to the Nazis and vowed to stay and resist rather than flee to safety in another country. I feel there are frightening parallels to the path our country is taking at this time.
Anonymous 11 months ago
Jennifer Chiaverini does her historical research as is evidenced in her new book Resistance Women. As I read this book, I felt as if I had lived through 1930 to 1943 and had seen the rise of Hitler's power in Germany. This story is told through the eyes of the men and women who were actually part of what became known as Rote Kapelle, a resistance movement in Germany. Mildred Fish, a graduate student at Wisconsin, marries a brilliant German economist, Arvid Harnack. They move to Germany and create a rich life there. As Hitler comes to power, Mildred, Arvid and their friends use their positions and contacts to bring down the Nazis from within. When the Nazi radio operatives detect a signal from Russia, the whole network is exposed. This is not an easy read because it exposes the horrors that were part of the Nazi regime. It is a book people should read so we are not doomed to repeat these horrors. The county library has a copy of this book.
SilverShrew 12 months ago
Jennifer Chiaverini is a prolific author. Her Elm Creek Quilts series is one of my favorites. I have read them all. Her historical fiction books are extremely well researched and well written. “Resistance Women” is the latest of her books that I have read. What an engrossing novel! I have read many books about resistance groups that were active in France during the Second World War. I have not read one about resistance groups that were active from the beginning of Hitler’s drive to control Germany and the rest of Europe. This novel starts in June 1929 and gives the reader a glimpse of what was happening in Germany at this time. As a result of the Treaty of Versailles and the Great Depression, Germany was like many other countries. Unemployment, hunger, scarcity of goods and poverty were rampant. Hitler preyed upon the peoples’ suffering to bring them together to “unify” German territories and rid the country of undesirables, Jews, Communists, mental patients, the elderly and sick. His promises and chutzpah rallied the common folks. His psychological strategies were to rid Germany of intellectuals, artists, columnists, writers, newspapers, etc. These “intellectuals” would be able to see through his ruses and try to cause his downfall. Ms. Chiavarini follows Mildred Fish, an American married to a German economist, Martha Dodd, the daughter of the American Ambassador to Germany, and German Greta Kuckhoff, an aspiring author, part-Jew Sara as they become a small part of the larger Rote Kapelle (Red Orchestra), a communist spy ring in Nazi-occupied Europe. Mildred, Martha, and Greta are real people who risked all to rid Europe of Hitler and his henchmen. They illegally and with help from some supposed Nazi sympathizers began printing leaflets, sending letters to other countries’ governments, the Holy See, and anyone they thought could help put a stop to the atrocities that were taking place daily. Their efforts continued for years until the resistance group was detected and arrested by the Gestapo. The women in this group were dedicated and determined to do their job and save as many Jewish people as possible from the “final solution”. I loved this book. Ms. Chiaverini tells history in a fictional way while incorporating real activities. I found this book hard to read at times because of the subject matter and had to put it down for a day, but then I was drawn back to it. This is not a romantically fictionalized account of the activities of the Resistance and does not sugar-coat the maniacal atrocities that occurred during this horrible time in German history. After finishing the book, I found myself constantly thinking about it and the story. I cannot explain the effect it had on me and my outlook on various aspects of life. Would I have had the courage and tenacity of these women? Would I be willing to give up everything for what I believed in? How does that relate to today in my life? I highly recommend this book to any aficionado of learning the history of Germany in W.W.II. I am looking forward to reading another novel by Ms. Chiaverini. You can find this review on my blog at Other reviews can be found at I have posted this review on Goodreads at, and on at
buggysmom More than 1 year ago
Resistance Women Jennifer Chiaverini HarperCollins Pub, May 2019 608 pages, Kindle, Hardcover, Paperback, Audiobook, Audio CD Historical Novel, WWII Novel, Fiction Purchased at the current price Recommended by Donna Morse ✫✫✫✫✫ The cover is well-done with the two women dressed appropriately for the time walking in a rather bleak city area towards an arch decorated with banners with swastikas. It gives you a feel for what is inside if you look at it for a second. The buildings on each side and the storm clouds above funnel everything towards the dominant building at the center with the banners, the authority of the Third Reich and Adolph Hitler. The story is heartbreaking and unfortunately based on real-life experiences of women who actually lived during that time. I was quickly swept up in the lives of each of these characters, even the ones I wasn’t particularly fond of. I went through the 600 pages in just two days, so intense was my focus with this book. Mildred, Greta, Martha, Sara and the men in their lives were fighting for a better life for a country and for the Jews. It seemed that each time they reached out to someone, the connection fell apart somehow and more people died because of it, or countries got invaded without receiving their warning. In the final chapters, when their resistance cell was gathered up by the Nazis and they were all sent off to prisons or executed on the spot, it was painful to read about the hope and hopelessness that was their constant companions. How much they suffered mentally and physically through their imprisonment with the constant questioning and torture of both men and women, and never knowing if their loved ones were still alive or not. For one woman, it was two months before she found out that her husband had been executed. The minister who had been with him at the end told her when he came to her just before her execution. So much pain in such information. The men were hung and the women were sent to the guillotine. Hanging was considered more humiliating, so they hung all the men. Women were considered second class citizens and not worth the time and effort of a hanging. The guillotine was more efficient. To know that the efforts of these women have gone mostly unrecognized is sad. They did just as much, if not more, in their way than a lot of the men. They risked their lives in so many ways, big and small, to bring down the Reich, and yet history really doesn’t remember them well. The courier work, the stickers and posters, the rumors, the meetings, and hiding people. All the while, they carried on raising their families and trying to eke out enough food with food stamps in an economy that had so many people almost starving. Shame on history for forgetting these brave women and their men. The pace of the book was fairly brisk most of the time. Seldom was there time for leisure in the lives of these people. The only place time dragged was in prison and even then the tension of the unknown and constant unexpected kept the story moving. I can truly say this is a 5-star book and I highly recommend it to any fan of WWII stories or stories about strong women. This is surely a book I will read again.
LibMom More than 1 year ago
Mildred, Greta, and Sara were run of the mill students in Germany who were later joined by Martha Dodd, a U.S. ambassador's daughter. These ordinary women engaged in extraordinary tactics in Resistance Women. Jennifer Chiaverini's most recent book Resistance Women might not be a book you would think about reading for Memorial Day, but it is completely fitting as it shares the story of four women who are involved in the Resistance movement in the heart of Germany. In fact one of the main characters, Mildred Harnack, is a native of Wisconsin and her birthday is celebrated in that state as a holiday. Resistance Women is a historically based novel. Chiaverini has definitely done her research to bring the actual stories of Mildred, Greta, and Martha to life. She does indicate in the Author's Note that the story of Sarah is a conglomeration of multiple individuals rather than an actual person as she needed a fourth woman to tell the story. Using a rotating narrator, the stories of these four women and their families unfolds during Hitler's rise to power and World War II. The women met through doctoral studies both in America and in Germany. Their studies and teaching allowed them to meet and become involved in the resistance movement known as the Red Orchestra. Through their involvement in this movement, they interacted with numerous well-known individuals from this time period. I was most excited to discover Mildred Harnack's husband was a cousin of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Resistance Women is not a fast or easy read. Reading about the hardships these individuals endured is heartbreaking. Yet I could not put the book down as I wanted to find out what would happen to these women and their families. Their determined goal, regardless of the cost, was to defeat Hitler. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received Resistance Women via NetGalley. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.
marongm8 More than 1 year ago
I was so shaken up by this book because it was so intense. Reading about these women and their determination to form a resistance to take down Nazi Germany once and for all. But like all protest organizations there is a lot of risk involved and one simple mistake could expose you costing your life and everything you've lived for. The actions taken by the resistance and the women are so courageous and inspiring to many. We are always on the search for new and exciting historical fiction novels and I know our community will invest their time into reading this book. Also, the research done throughout the book was very impressive and educational especially if it's been a while since you have discussed Hitler and Nazi Germany. We will consider adding this title to our Historical Fiction collection at our library. That is why we give this book 5 stars.
MaureenST More than 1 year ago
Going into this book I thought I knew what to expect, but not in this detail, and not when I felt that I needed to get out of there and leave. When I think about those that stay and then what happened, I thought about staying in my own home, it’s mine why should I leave, and that mentality could get them killed. Through the author we get to walk on the streets of Berlin during this horrific time, and we put faces to those who can see what is happening and do what they can to help thwart this evil. This is a very long book, but I was mesmerized and hoping for a change in history, of course that didn’t happen, but the research that was put into this read is awesome! I loved the fact that the author’s notes update on what happened to these real people, or mostly, making you wonder how so many could turn a blind eye. A timely book, history should not be forgotten. I received this book through Net Galley and the Publisher William Morrow, and was not required to give a positive review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
That being said my problem was that it was too indepth and exceedingly long. Read like a history book and as much as i tried, i couldnt get into all the charscters (too many) and their individual issues and lives. The novel was well resesrched and written well but i admit i skimmed through much of it. The author deserves praise for her writing but unless you enjoy long historical books rewd the ssmple before buying.