Title: My Dearest Dietrich
Author: Amanda Barratt
Genre: Biographical Fiction
Publishing Date: June 9, 2019
Length: 360 Pages
About the Book:
A staggering love illuminating the dark corners of a Nazi prison
Renowned German pastor and theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer is famous for his resistance to the Nazi regime and for his allegiance to God over government. But what few realize is that the last years of his life also held a love story that rivals any romance novel.
Maria von Wedemeyer knows the realities of war. Her beloved father and brother have both been killed on the battlefield. The last thing this spirited young woman needs is to fall for a man under constant surveillance by the Gestapo. How can she give another piece of her heart to a man so likely to share the same final fate? Yet when Dietrich Bonhoeffer, an old family friend, comes to comfort the von Wedemeyers after their losses, she discovers that love isn’t always logical.
Dietrich himself has determined to keep his distance from romantic attachments. There is too much work to be done for God, and his involvement in the conspiracy is far too important. But when he encounters a woman whose intelligence and conviction match his own, he’s unprepared for how easy it is to give away his heart.
With their deep love comes risk–and neither Dietrich nor Maria is prepared for just how great that risk soon becomes.
Based on detailed historical research and including photos from both Maria’s and Dietrich’s lives, this is a true love story at once beautiful and heartrending. My Dearest Dietrich sheds new light on a world-famous theologian . . . and the woman who changed his life.
After hearing so many rave reviews for this book I knew it was one that I was going to have to pick up myself!
I truly don’t believe I have the words to do this book justice. Normally I can be quite the speed reader but I found myself intentionally slowing down with this read and thinking through things a lot more deeply. It was by no means a dump of information, but there was certainly a lot of historical reality that seemed to strike at every corner. It was impeccably researched and history truly came to life through the pages.
As people we have the great ability to place people in certain positions on pedestals so high that we can almost start to forget that they are simply human too. This type of thinking isn’t healthy for either party. Maria wrestled with the thoughts of feeling unworthy of a pastor, while Dietrich longed for someone to see and love the vulnerable side of him outside of his role as pastor and theologian. The development of their relationship was unique to say the least, however there is no question that their story was impeccably researched for the writing of this novel. The age difference was very difficult for me to accept considering that Dietrich was old enough to be Maria’s father–almost 20 years her senior. I found myself questioning the type of love Maria really had for Dietrich especially as she questioned it herself in the beginning and they faced opposition from her family. I won’t say any more on the matter to prevent spoilers, but it was both frustrating and interesting to me how their love developed. I appreciated the author’s respect for the history of their relationship by not merely sharing another a sappy love story.
What was unique to me about this read was that it seemed to focus more on the people and their relationships instead of the events. There was a deep questioning of what made others “tick” and how thick loyalty ran through their veins. It was strongly worded that those who observed the suffering of others and chose to do nothing were guilty themselves. One man Werner stated “there’s blood on my hands… because I’ve done nothing.” When discussing their plans to assassinate Hitler, Dietrich himself said “I don’t believe in allowing another to do what I cannot, simply to absolve myself of guilt.” The call to action (done wisely) was a strong driving force for the characters. They couldn’t sit by and and allow themselves comfort while so many around them were senselessly and mercilessly murdered around them.
This was a powerful and thought-provoking read. I’m amazed how evident it was just how much research went into it and how remarkably everything was weaved together. I highly recommend to historical fiction and biography fans.