Based on the author’s discoveries about her great-grandfather, this stunning debut novel that “powerfully portrays the inner struggles of ordinary people moved to do extraordinary things” (Booklist) takes place over three days during World War II when members of a German family must make “the sometimes impossible choice between family and morality” (Helen Simonson, author of Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand).
When World War II breaks out, Edith and Oskar Eberhardt move their family—their daughter, Marina; son-in-law, Franz; and their granddaughters—out of Berlin to the quiet town of Blumental, near Switzerland. A member of the Fuhrer’s cabinet, Oskar is gone most of the time, and Franz begins fighting in the war, so the women of the house are left to their quiet lives in the village.
But life in Blumental isn’t as idyllic as it appears. An egotistical Nazi captain terrorizes the citizens he’s assigned to protect. Neighbors spy on each other. Some mysteriously disappear. Marina has a lover who also has close ties to her family and the government. Thinking none of them share her hatred of the Reich, she joins a Protestant priest smuggling Jewish refugees over the nearby Swiss border. The latest “package” is two Polish girls, and against her better judgment, Marina finds she must hide them in the Eberhardt’s cellar. Everything is set to go smoothly until Oskar comes home with the news that the Führer will be visiting the area for a concert, and he will be making a house call on the Eberhardts.
“With jaw-clenching suspense and unexpected tenderness” (Jacquelyn Mitchard), The Good at Heart is an “engaging…rich…evocative” (Library Journal) portrait of a family torn between doing their duty for their country and doing what’s right, especially for those they love.
Ursula Werner is a writer and attorney currently living in Washington, DC, with her family. Born in Germany and raised in South Florida, she has practiced law while continuing her creative writing, publishing two books of poetry, In the Silence of the Woodruff (2006) and Rapunzel Revisited (2010). The Good at Heart is her first novel.