Tuesday, December 8, 2015

A Secret Life

A Secret Life > Editions

by Lee Carver First published August 25th 2014

A Secret Life
Published August 25th 2014 by Prism Book Group
Paperback, 394 pages
A Secret Life
Published August 25th 2014 by Prism Book Group
Kindle Edition, 394 pages
A Secret Life
Published August 27th 2014 by Smashwords Edition


A Secret Life

The German Army of World War II rips Karl Von Steuben from his family and privileged life, forcing him to conceal his American sympathies and Jewish heritage. Stripped of every tie to his home country, he determines to escape. As he crawls to the Siegfried Line, only he knows the hiding place of gold ingots melted from the jewelry of death camp prisoners. Wounded after assuming the identity of a fallen American soldier, Karl briefly deceives even himself. Discharged and shipped to America, he discovers God's unmerited favor in a beautiful Atlanta nurse. But he must return to Germany or relinquish his family fortune and rear children under the name of another man. Will Grace forgive his duplicity and accept him as an American? (less)
This novel is a multi-faceted jewel. While I’m generally not a reader of war stories, this one is outstanding. The account of Karl Van Steuben’s situation kept me intrigued and turning pages. The layers of the synchronized story lines, separate but intertwining, are woven to a beautiful, well thought out climax.

Bombed out churches, lost treasurers, and broken dreams assemble the foundation of this uplifting chronicle. The inhumanities of World War II are exposed and the character of one young man who finds himself on the wrong side of what he believes is the crux of the tale. If he can make a difference, right one wrong, he can keep up his charade.

In this poignant love story commingled with the horrors of war, Lee Carver’s brilliantly exhibited talent shines through. A Secret Life is a must read for all, but plan to stay up late because you can’t put it down.
As war breaks out around them, Karl Von Steuben, fears for his family's safety. With dual American/German citizenship and a secret Jewish heritage on his mother's side, the Christian family finds their faith and lives in danger. Kidnapped and forced into the German army rips Karl away from his privileged life and any hope of escape. He could never shoot an American and looks for an opportunity to cross the lines of war, risking being caught as an enemy. When the opportunity arises, he assumes a dead American soldier's identity and crawls to the Siegfried Line carrying with him the secret hiding place of gold ingots melted from the jewelry of death camp prisoners. A battle injury robs him for a time of his memory, real name and history.

Eventually he gains awareness of the horrible truth but more secrets have to stay buried lest he be branded a war criminal in spite of the valuable aid he provides to the American side of the war effort. Eventually he is discharged and shipped to America under his assumed name. Alone in a foreign land, he rediscovers the faith of his past and the truth of God's unmerited favor in a beautiful Atlanta nurse, Grace. The only problem is, Karl's real name, identity and family fortune lies oversees in post-war Germany. Claiming them and owning the truth of who he is could give him the life he longs for with his new wife, but at the same time jeopardizes their marriage. Would Grace, and his adopted country, ever forgive him?

The twists and turns of this complex tale also covers the story of Karl's family and their struggle during the war. Historically grounded and well researched the characters and their struggles come to life on the page. The heart-rending truth of the horrors of war and the choices that have to be made are well told without being gory. It's a beautifully told tale of love, faith and difficult choices.
Karl von Steuben is a dual citizen German/American whose mother is of Jewish background. Living in Munich during World War II, he has been fortunate that his father has been handling the Reich’s investments and has not been solicited to join the arm as he has an exemption. That all changes one day when he goes out in search of food and gets picked up by a recruiting truck that ships him in the German army. However, learning that he speaks English, his post commander gives him a job as a translator rather than sending him to the front lines. Realizing that he could never kill Americans, he plans to escape across the enemy line and make his way to America. He finally has the chance after he stumbles upon a dead American soldier. After exchanging the uniforms, he makes his way into American territory when he is shot in the back of the head. Days later he wakes up as Henry Viertel with no memory of his past life.
Eventually he regains his memories and is sent back to the States after the war has turned. He meets Grace and falls in love with her, with as Henry he has no college degree with which to work to provide for her. Can he work his way through college again to make a family with Grace? Or should he go back to Germany to claim his family fortune? And if he does, would Grace go with him?

I have to admit, this was a really good read. I was a little skeptical going into it at first with a new author, but it was a very enjoyable book. The story flowed flawlessly. Lee Carver didn’t miss a beat telling the story of this young man. The characters were very well developed and easily to relate to. For a romance, there was still a lot of action and suspense. 

There were quite a few little twists throughout the story, but many of them were pretty predictable. My only criticism is that I thought it ended a little too neatly, but maybe that is just my preference. Overall, if you enjoy World War II stories, then you will enjoy this book. Carver did her research to make sure the book is accurate and takes you back a few decades for her tale.