The Roses Underneath
by C. F. Yetman

Ypsilon & Co. Press, Austin, TX, 2014. ISBN 978-0-615-86836-3.
Reviewed by Sharon Wildwind
Posted on 02/11/2014
Review of the Month, February 2014

Fiction: Historical; Fiction: Mystery; Fiction: Romance

Anna Klein and her six-year old daughter, Amalia, are German displaced persons, at the end of World War II. Separated from her husband, who chose to remain in territory now under Russian control, Anna doesn't know if he's still alive. Since their escape didn't go as planned, they ended up in a part of Germany where he won't think to look for them.

They are fortunate to share a single room with a friend of Anna's mother, and to have any food at all. And Anna has a job with The Monument Men, American architects and art experts beginning the impossible task of locating, cataloging, and, ideally, returning looted Nazi art to their rightful owners.

Who can Anna trust? The acid-tongued downstairs neighbor whom everyone says was a Nazi informer? The woman who not only provides Kinder care for Amalie, but feeds her better than Anna can? The woman's alcoholic brother, a Wehrmacht (German Army) veteran, who almost died in Russia? The American Captain who gives Amalia a book? His driver?

The people she's sure she can't trust are two German art dealers, and they want very much for her to cooperate with them.

Part romance, part mystery, The Roses Underneath is a stunning picture of everyday life for German women at the end of the war. Not only must they scavenge for everything from food to slivers of soap, they are confronting what the Nazi legacy says about Germany and about themselves as German woman.

The characters are complex and wonderfully drawn. The plot many-layered and convoluted. And all around the characters, the danger level is rising.

While there are grim details—it was a grim time—the tone of the book is not a turn-off. The title says it all. The characters are looking for roses under hard times.

Read an excerpt from this book.

C. F. Yetmen is a writer and consultant specializing in architecture and design. She is co-author of The Owner's Dilemma: Driving Success and Innovation in the Design and Construction Industry and a former publisher of Texas Architect magazine. The Roses Underneath is her first novel. Visit her website.

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