About The Book
Kiel, Northern Germany, 1933. A naval city, the base for the German Baltic fleet, and the centre for German sailing, the venue for the upcoming Olympic regatta in 1936.
The Kästners, a prominent Military family, are part of the fabric of the city, and its social, naval and yachting circles. The Nussbaums are the second generation of their family to be in service with the Kästners as domestic staff, but the two households have a closer bond than most.
As Adolf Hitler and his National Socialist Party claw their way to power in 1933, life has never looked better for families like the Kästners. There is only one problem.
The Nussbaums are Jews.
The Sturmtaucher Trilogy documents the devastating effect on both families of the Nazis’ hateful ideology and the insidious erosion of the rights of Germany’s Jews.
When Germany descends ever deeper into dictatorship, General Erich Kästner tries desperately to protect his employees, and to spirit them to safety.
As the country tears itself apart, the darkness which envelops a nation threatens not only to destroy two families, but to plunge an entire continent into war.
With thanks to the author for the copy received. The Gathering Storm is the first part in a trilogy and takes place during the 1930s and the first few months of the war. I have read a few books that concern the Second World War but I have never read one quite as detailed as this before. Or one that covers the events from so many different points of view. Adult and children, officers and housewives. Some are Jewish who live in fear of losing everything. Some are lifelong friends or employers who worry about what is happening to their country. Some are social climbers who agree with everything that Hitler and his followers were doing. Their hatred and opinions made my skin crawl.
I found this book equally fascinating and horrifying. It is long, 800 pages, but it wouldn’t have worked in quite the same way if it was shorter. The reader needed to see how the different communities were affected by Hitler and his followers. I learnt so much from reading it. One example was Kristallnacht, I had heard of it but never knew why it happened.
Even though it was the most difficult to read it was the Nussbaum’s story I wanted to read. Their life would have been typical of so many Jewish families at the time. Losing every bit of their freedom as the 1930s progressed. Their many friends, some who made it to Palestine and some who were deported, all who were losing everything they owned. The abuse their children suffered at school from former friends and teachers, it was heartbreaking to read. More so because you know it would have happened.
I don’t think I have ever felt so tense when reading a novel. I was desperate to know what would happen to the characters I met throughout. I felt relief that at least one survived the experience and was recalling events many years later. I hope there are more.
I need to know what happens next and will definitely be reading the second book in the series. Thankfully I only have a few months to wait. Well done Alan Jones, this novel is extraordinary.