Paul Manchester "Wil Whimsey" (Los Angeles, CA)
October 24, 2011
Compelling and Unique
I recently finished reading YEAR OF THE ANGELS and very much enjoyed it. I ended up staying up to 130 in the morning despite being tired- as I was so close to the end I could not put it down. It is a beautiful story that shows the power of imagination and the power of family to get through the most difficult of situations. It is also a unique perspective. We don't hear too often of the German children within Nazi Germany- what did they think? How did all this propaganda affect them? It is a great reminder of how pointless war is and how similar we all are despite the arbitrary borders that separate us and tell us we should be on different sides. That the author actually is writing about her personal experience gives a detail and specificity that make the story compelling.
October 20, 2011
A Great Book
Year of the Angels is a great read. Madden does a fantastic job of showing the horrors of war through the eyes of a child, but still allows the reader to feel the hope, innocence, and determination of the characters. Not only is the book well written and interesting from a historical perspective, it is also a great reference point to show how many things we and our families tend to take for granted in our lives.
Mary E. Trimble, author
October 3, 2011
A Wonderfully Poignant Story
Year of the Angels by Erika Madden is a heart-felt novel about a ten year-old girl living in Germany during World War II. Inspired by Madden's personal experiences, she describes war that few of us can imagine.
The Lindner family, a gentle mother and six children, including a new-born infant, struggle to survive the war as it creeps closer to their little village of Mainbernheim. Lisel's father, conscripted by the Germain army, is away from his family, and they receive no word about his whereabouts or even if he's still alive.
The family strives to make life as pleasant as possible, despite the black-outs, screaming sirens, crowded bomb shelters, the terrible shortage of food and other basic necessities. The children scrounge for coal along the railroad tracks, work in the fields in exchange for food, do whatever they can for the family's survival. Through it all, their mother bravely and tenderly guides her children. and shows by example that the most important thing is family. Lisel and her beloved little brother Dieter have a special relationship and find play and enjoyment whenever and however they can. They escape to their treasured stone break, their secret, magical place.
War is terrible. Most of us believe that. Still, we reason, it's necessary to preserve our freedom. But when you read an account such as Year of the Angels, you realize what it means to those most affected by the violence, the people who live there. The desperate struggles of being displaced, enduring shortages of food, clothes, and warmth, the misery of families being torn apart, is their daily reality. In the midst of this misery, the Lindner family shows kindness, sharing, and even humor.
Year of the Angels is a poignant account of one year of the European war as seen through the eyes of a young girl. It's a treasure you will long remember
Stanwood Camano News
July 30, 2011
New novel offers fresh viewpoint of WWII Germany
Childhood memories inspire historical novel
Erika Madden’s childhood in World War II Germany was one of deprivation and challenge. During the war effort of the mid-1940s, food, heating fuel, and clothing became increasingly scarce, and the German citizens grew increasingly desperate. The Allied Forces were advancing on the small farming community where Madden’s family lived. Her father was away at war, and the future of the family remained uncertain.
Madden called upon these childhood experiences as inspiration for her new historical fiction novel, “Year of the Angels.”
The novel is set in 1944-1945, the year Allied Forces advanced upon and eventually occupied the small medieval town of Mainbernheim, Germany. It tells the story from the vantage point of a young German girl, Lisl, and centers on her relationship with her younger brother Dieter, and the creative ways they survived the war through imagination and play.
“I didn’t want my novel to be just a war story,” said Madden. “I wanted to show the softer side of children, their acceptance of Hitler’s Germany, and how they escape emotionally from the terror and hate.”
With her father gone to war, Lisl, her pregnant mother and her four siblings coped with the lack of basic necessities and the uncertainty of living in wartime Germany. As the war front advanced, her mother struggled to maintain a normal home life for her children. Air raids were common events and fear and hunger were constant companions.
The dreaded occupation of their town by American troops brought with it new challenges, but also new opportunities, relationships, and a chance at survival. Eventually, Lisl’s father returned from the Russian front a broken man, plagued by survivor’s remorse. He and the family faced a painful journey to emotional healing.
Madden is a member of the Stanwood-Camano Hard-Nosed Zealots Writers’ Critique Group.
“Year of the Angels” was published through Createspace.com and is available at https://www.createspace.com/3558766.