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Book Review: The Patient Ecstasy of Fraulein Braun – Lavonne Mueller

Donna Brown1037 views
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About The Patient Ecstasy of Fraulein Braun (2013)
The Patient Ecstasy of Fraulein BraunEva understands Hitler is married to Germany and must herself stand back unacknowledged as he enclasps the world in a passionate, python-like thrall. Until the last days in the final chapter of the Third Reich (and the first chapter of the novel) when Adolf and Eva move into their first home together, the Fuhrerbunker. There, deep underground, hidden from the light of day and the light of history, but laid fully bare to the author’s unblinking eye, Eva Braun’s unquestioning patriotism and patience finally pay off in a private wedding ceremony and a cyanide capsule. Mueller imagines the claustrophobic and morally twisted underground world of the Third Reich’s last gasp. All the Fuhrer’s men and women, like rats in a trap, grow more and more desperate, more and more perverse, as they compete for the final crumbs of attention from their doomed leader. Only one soul remains calm amid the chaos, the ever-patient, ever pliant paramour of the vilest man who ever lived. As the world around them goes astoundingly mad, their devotion to each other remains unsullied. Trusting. Even innocent.

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Review: The Patient Ecstasy of Fraulein Braun

Believe me when I say I really have thought long and hard before writing this review. An erotic book where Hitler and Eva Braun are the characters? What could you possibly write? Well, firstly, that is a pretty simplistic explanation of this title, which came across to me as less of an erotic romance and more a historical fiction novel where erotica is not used to titilate or excite but to highlight the power and control issues, Eva’s insecurities, her unwavering devotion.

This was never going to be an easy title to release. The very subject matter leaves it open to criticism before the book has even been opened. However, despite the fact that Hitler is made out to be charismatic, charming, attractive to her, it remains very clear throughout the novel that this is Eva’s viewpoint only. This book in no way offers condonement of Hitler’s thoughts and actions from Mueller’s point of view. It is entirely fictional in that respect.

There has long been speculation about Hitler’s sexual preferences, some of which has arisen from propaganda campaigns during WWII, some from other rumours, particularly regarding the death of his niece. Little conclusive proof or evidence seems to exist but I can see why Mueller has used sex within this book in the way she has. Eva is infatuated. It thwarts her reason and logic, affects her morality. Hitler’s charisma has been much researched, remarked upon, documented. Though this alone can never explain why people supported him to such lengths, Mueller has used Eva’s idolatry and obsession with him to highlight this aspect of his character.

I don’t believe this is a book that can ever be read as an erotic romance and that – for me – is entirely why this book is acceptable. It is dark and tormented. The ‘patient ecstasy’ that Eva feels is actually a torment she feels she must endure. This is not a love story. This is a story of two obsessions, neither of which could ever end anything but terribly. Eva’s obsession sadly led to her own demise, while Hitler’s led to the terrible, tragic and unforgivable demise of millions of innocents.

I’m rating this a three (closer to 3.5 but we don’t use halves) because while I appreciated the research, attention to detail and fact that this was constructed as sensitively as the subject matter would allow, it was a good book but – in my mind – not an amazing one. At times it felt a little confused and jumped a little. Some things within the book seem a little reach too far, such as a request Frau Goebbels makes of Hitler towards the end.

The topic and characters are controversial and I applaud Mueller for a very brave undertaking, one which I’m very sure was neither intended to cause offense or indicate disrespect. Is there a reason this book needed to be written? Perhaps not, except for the fact that Eva Braun was someone equally taken in by Hitler’s promises. A warning to us all, perhaps, that charm and charisma can hide a true evil.

Verdict: 3/5

(Book Source: Netgalley)

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Donna Brown
Avid reader/audiobook listener, fan of podcasts, prone to the odd Netflix binge. Mum to six crazy and incredible rescue cats. Occasional writer of short stories and poetry.

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