Cover Image: The Austrian Bride

The Austrian Bride

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

In her latest novel, Helen Parusel brings readers to Linz, Austria, just before the Anschluss annexation of Austria in 1938. As the world builds towards World War II, readers follow Ella and her mother as the world changes around them, Nazis rise to power in their city, and Ella’s fiance Max begins to show a darker side of himself. As Linz changes around her, Ella makes some dangerous, difficult decisions that put her, her family, and her loved ones at risk of retaliation from Max and the Nazi party, and readers can only stand by and watch as Ella tries to fight back. Parusel’s characters are multifaceted, complex, and dynamic, and the multitude of motivations, loyalties, and secrets adds to the stakes of the novel. Ella’s journey in particular is risky and complex, but Parusel makes her choices and motivations particularly realistic given the situations that Ella finds herself in. The choice of setting, too, is a strong choice by Parusel; Linz is critical, as hinted through Ella’s mother’s backstory, yet it is just far enough from other locations like Vienna, Berlin, and Munich to be a less common choice for other World War II historical fiction novels. Readers are sure to enjoy Parusel’s latest World War II historical fiction novel!

Was this review helpful?

TRIGGER WARNING: Nazi racial ideology and brutality
1938, Linz, Austria. Ella is excited as her 21st birthday approaches. She is hoping to get engaged to Max and is happily thinking ahead. Germany and Austria unite under the Fuhrer, with promises of a bright future. But Ella discovers the reality is very different...
The Austrian Bride is an historical novel set in Austria in 1938.
Ella is hopeful for the future although she doesn't share her boyfriend Max's fervour for the Anschluss which joins their homeland with Germany under the might of the Nazis. The reality of the unification quickly becomes clear, and whilst Max becomes more zealous, Ella takes dangerous action to save Jewish lives.
Ella's mother Marlene is going through the menopause and struggling to adapt to the physical changes. She is secretly meeting a man who is not her husband, and has some connection to Max's father and HItler. These two strands are not tied up until the very end of the book, creating plenty of scope for contemplating the mystery.
The book is written from the third person perspectives of Ella and Marlene. Both women are bravely trying to undermine the horrors of the Nazi regime and put themselves in danger. There are sex scenes which are not necessary to the plot but do give us a refreshing look at first love and established love.
Due to the Nazi actions, there are episodes of violence including sexual violence which readers may find upsetting. The emotional elements to the characters are explored fully so I genuinely cared about them (particularly Marlene) and I felt fearful for their safety as the plot unfolded.
The Austrian Bride is a well researched historical novel.

Was this review helpful?

A powerful historical novel with a brave and resilient heroine readers will take to their hearts, The Austrian Bride is a compelling tale by Helen Parusel.

Austria 1938 and like most of her fellow countrymen, Ella has had her fair share of hardship, but there seem to be brighter days ahead. As Hitler marches into Linz, she finds herself swept up in all the glory and optimism – largely thanks to her boyfriend, Max. However, it soon transpires that there is a very sinister undercurrent to Hitler’s regime that immediately makes her apprehensive – and her alarm only increases when she witnesses a woman being shot in cold blood and a Jewish department store being closed down for no apparent reason.

Ella realises that she has to do something, but she needs to tread carefully. If she is caught helping out the Jewish population, the consequences simply do not bear thinking about and with Max proposing, Ella finds herself having to be even more vigilant because it’s not just her life that is at stake. Enlisting in a Reich Bride School, Ella is at the heart of the higher echelons of the Nazi circle. Yet, if she is to save her country and the people she loves, she will need to make the ultimate sacrifice – even if it means paying the harshest price of all.

Helen Parusel’s The Austrian Bride is a captivating historical novel that aims for the heart. A wonderfully vivid and highly atmospheric tale about courage, resilience and love, The Austrian Bride will blow readers away with its attention to detail, meticulous recreation of the past and nuanced characters that leap off the pages.

The Austrian Bride is a book that is hard to put down and even harder to forget and I look forward to more superb historical novels from Helen Parusel.

Was this review helpful?

Fascinating tale of resistance efforts against the Reich in Linz, Austria in 1938. Both mother, Marlene, and daughter, Ella, find their own ways to fight against the Nazis taking over their town and way of life. The story alternates between Marlene's and Ella's perspectives so you can see how the story unfolds from their points of view. Marlene is a complicated woman and we learn about her life and family as well as how her past impacts her current life. Ella is a young woman and enrolls in The Bride School to learn how to be the perfect wife to support the Reich, but ends up using the experience to gather information and help Jewish friends evade and escape capture, or worse.
I enjoyed the story from the two perspectives because similar or same events were looked at differently and it added depth to the story. There are some difficult parts to read because they were realistic to what did or could have happened to prisoners or enemies of the state, but needed to be included in this book. Marlene and Ella had some love interests and those relationships were complicated and added tension to the story.
The Author's Note explains that the story is inspired by her mother's childhood (I love stories like that). The main characters are fictional but many supporting characters were real.
As a fan of WW2 historical fiction, I am always amazed at how authors create a new perspective to this era. I would recommend this book.
Thank you Boldwood Books and Net Galley for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are my own.

Was this review helpful?

What a wonderful novel! But also, what a difficult read. The storytelling is amazingly smooth, and I couldn’t put the book down once I got started… but, oh my, so much sadness and heartbreak. I mean, this is historical fiction, and we all know what happened in the lead up to Hitler’s ascent to power… but knowing about the horrors that the people had to live through doesn’t make reading about them any easier, even when the people you are so invested in are fictional. The author has created such realistic characters that I had to hold my breath quite a few times in the presence of some of them, while I desperately rooted for others. Stories about the resistance are always inspiring, and this was no exception. That it is so beautifully written is the cherry on top. Plus, I loved the Austrian setting and, because I had never heard of these schools, I feel like I’ve learned something too. 100% recommended.

Was this review helpful?

The Austrian Bride is written by by Helen Parusel. This is the first book that I have read by this author, and it will not be the last. This book is Set in March 1938 in Linz just as Austria is annexed for the Third Reich.
Ella Mayer who is twenty one years old, and is in love with her handsome boyfriend, Maximilian Giesler. However, Maximilian is soaking up all the Nazi theology. He proposes to her quickly after they start dating.

However, shortly after the Nazis move in - Jewish citizens start to be humiliated in public. Ella and her mother who previously loved shopping at a Jewish owned store - soon find that it’s taken over by the Nazis. Ella is tapped to go to a Reich Bride School. (I had no idea this was actually a thing) Ella starts to notice that her fiance has changed. He becomes very anti-Jewish, he’s harsh and he scares Ella.
Does Ella go through with her marriage? Or betray the Nazi party and risk the same treatment that the Jews have experienced.
This story is beautifully written and hard to read at times. However, it’s a part of history that we seem to have forgotten. The author has done a great job with this story.

Thank you to the author, publisher and Rachel's Random Resources for allowing me to read a copy of this book - all thoughts are my own.

Was this review helpful?

Anybody who knows me well, knows that not only am I a book geek but I am also a historical fiction nerd with a particular interest in fiction set during the First and Second World Wars. So imagine my excitement when I read the synopsis of 'The Austrian Bride'. Let's just say that I couldn't wait to dive in and so without further ado, I grabbed a cup of tea, grabbed my Kindle and settled down for what proved to be a rather emotional evening of reading. I thoroughly enjoyed reading 'The Austrian Bride' but more about that in a bit.

It took me no time at all to get into 'The Austrian Bride'. In fact by the time I got to the end of the first couple of pages, I knew that I was reading something special and that I would struggle to put it to one side for any length of time. I was spot on too. I had initially picked the book up only intending to read a chapter or two but I became so wrapped up in the story, in 1938 Austria and in the lives of the different characters that I was still sat there reading several chapters and an hour or so later. Part of the reason why I enjoyed the story so much has to do with the character of Ella, who ended up feeling more like a friend rather than a character in a book. She is a lovely young lass who finds herself caught up in the historical turmoil that was Austria in 1938. She has to get to grips with the 'new regime' in 1938 Austria and finds herself having to make choices that could have far reaching consequences for other people. The more of the book that I read, the more I wanted to read and the quicker the pages seemed to turn. All too quickly I reached the end of 'The Austrian Bride'. I found 'The Austrian Bride' to be a gripping, tense, dramatic and emotional story that certainly kept me guessing and kept me on the edge of my seat.

'The Austrian Bride' is superbly written. Helen certainly knows how to grab the reader's attention and draw them into what proves to be one hell of a story and then some. Helen describes her characters so vividly and thoroughly that they seem just as real as you and I. Helen has clearly done an awful lot of research into the time period in which the story takes place and this makes the story seem that bit more authentic. If I was to shut my eyes, it would be easy to imagine that I was there in 1938 Austria with the political and domestic turmoil of that time going on around me. Helen describes things so vividly that I felt as though I was part of the story myself. I got a real sense of how intimidating, scary and claustrophobic it must have been back then. This story certainly took me on an emotional rollercoaster ride with all the twists and turns, ups and downs and so on.

In short, I thoroughly enjoyed reading 'The Austrian Bride' and I would definitely recommend this book to other readers. I will certainly be reading more of Helen's work in the future. The score on the Ginger Book Geek board is a very well deserved 5* out of 5*.

Was this review helpful?

Powereful and thrilling, this is told in two viewpoints Ella and her mom Marlene, as these two women work tolive through the Nazi war machine which is relentless. Ella falls in love with a Jewish man and yet while she works to protect him she enters a bride school in hopes to use her position to save those she loves. However it is not as simple as you think and full of dangerous twists and turns. A great wartime read! Thank you to the author and publisher for this arc!

Was this review helpful?

So emotional
Loved the story, the characters, and everything about this book it was so well written I couldn't put it down
Loved the strength of these women during the second world war, the story had me so emotional at times, makes you think about people nowadays in war torn countries.

Was this review helpful?

I read this book with so much foreboding. Some of the descriptions like the expectations in the bride school were just distasteful.
It’s a story of a mother, Marlene, and daughter, Ella, who both work for the overturn of the ominous presence of the Germans
I thought Ella played a very dangerous game and acted impetuously a lot. I was more curious about Marlene’s story and allusions to her past which are finally revealed.
I liked the author’s note and what Inspired her to write the book.
Bad things happen even when good people try to prevent them.

Was this review helpful?

This was a moving story about the resilience of people, the nature of others, and the power of hope. We spend a lot of time with Ella as she goes from wide eyed ingenue to world wise woman, and her experience, while not unique, was heartbreaking. I was saddened for her when the walls of lies fell down around her, bringing the awful reality of what was transpiring into full focus...and yet, at the same time, I was relieved that she could fully see the atrocities and finally do something within her own power to stop it. Now, she wasn't going to be the linchpin in stopping this ridiculous war machine, but she was an integral part of saving many, including a few of the those she held most dear. Was she certain things would turn out right in the end? Absolutely she had to try because she knew that without her effort, like so many before her and still to come, nothing changes.

Fans of the genre, this is one not to be missed. It has all the pull of history with danger, love, and hope-filled promises to carry you through as you walk a mile in the shoes of those that called this time period reality instead of a lesson learned.

Was this review helpful?

This is a well written narrative told from the dual perspectives of Ella and her mother, Marlene. Both women, individualy and bravely, fight against the Nazi regime at risk to their own safety.

Set in Austria in the period just before the outbreak of WWII, the reader can observe Hitler's rise to power as Austria is annexed to the Third Reich. As more constraints are placed upon the native Austrian population as a whole, we also witness the beginning of the atrocities against the Jews.

However, some women were trained to become the perfect Nazi wife by attending the Reich Bride Schools where they were educated in how to look, serve their husbands and produce pure children, where under oath, they promise to raise them as Nazis.

This was an interesting and powerful read as we watch both Ella and Marlene fight to protect the Jews. In particular, we observe Ella portraying herself as training to become a perfect Nazi wife, whilst being in love with a Jewish man.

Was this review helpful?

As much as I love WWII fiction, I do need a bit of a hook to pick up a book from a new to me author. Yes, I have the authors I already know and love so I will pick their books up without too much thought, but there has to be a reason to pick up a new author. So what was it that persuaded me to give this book a chance. Firstly, I have read books set in Germany, France, Italy and the UK, but I don't think I have read much set in Austria. And technically, this probably isn't truly a WWII story given that it starts with the events of the annexation of Austria in 1938.

This was such an interesting read, touching on many aspects of pre-war life. Ella Mayer is a young woman who lives in Linz in Austria, a town that the Fuhrer has a connection to. Austria has struggled economically for years, so the arrival of German rule brings with it promises of jobs and prosperity. We follow Ella and her family as they begin to realise that the reality is very different from the promises.

Everything was the same as every summer, and yet nothing was the same. It was the perfect June day that was anything but perfect.

It doesn't take long for fear and violence to become part of life in Linz and Ella and her mother Marlene find themselves caught up, each outwardly trying to be fine upstanding citizens, but secretly involved in activities that would mean certain punishment if they are caught. One of the interesting things is that the two women are not aware of what the other is involved in.

Ella's boyfriend Max is handsome and dashing, and is pursuing Ella with great purpose, and she falls head over heels. However, the longer their relationship goes on the less that Ella likes who he is. As Max has some great contacts within the Reich, he is able to facilitate Ella's enrolment in the Reich Bride School, where she is taught how to be the perfect Reich wife. This was one of the most interesting aspects of the story for me.

Ella is able to use the contacts that she has made in order to protect those that she loves. The author is able to share quite a few interesting stories, including about the brother of one of the most infamous Nazis who is involved in resisting them. There is also mention of some famous sites of Linz that apparently can still be seen today.

In the meantime, Marlene is pondering an event from years before which could have meant that the world would have ended up in a very different place.

I did have one issue and that was with a name of one of the characters. The first time I read the name it really threw me out of the story for a good few hours. I am sure that the author found real people with this name but to me it felt like a name that didn't come into popularity until the 1990s. I ended up spending some time googling the name and it's history. It's funny how just one little thing can affect you in that way.

As an aside, it is very difficult for me to type the word Austria without automatically changing it to Australia.

I am sharing this review with the Historical Fiction Reading Challenge.

Thanks to Rachel's Random Resources, the publisher and Netgalley for the review copy. Check out other reviews on the tour too.

Rating 3.5/5

Was this review helpful?

"The Austrian Bride" by Helen Parusel takes readers on an emotional journey through the tumultuous period of Austria in 1938, weaving a powerful and unforgettable tale of resilience, courage, and the strength of women.

Set against the backdrop of Hitler's march into Linz, the story follows Ella, a young woman full of hope for a brighter future. Initially swept up in the euphoria of her boyfriend Max and the promises of change, Ella soon witnesses the harsh realities of the Nazi regime. As a woman with a conscience, she can't ignore the brutality unfolding around her, from street shootings to the closure of a childhood friend's Jewish department store.

Realizing that she must take action, Ella faces a dangerous decision. Despite her fascist boyfriend's proposal, she chooses to infiltrate the Nazi circle by enlisting in a Reich Bride School. This bold move propels her into the heart of the social elite, offering her a unique vantage point from which to gather vital information.

The novel masterfully captures the tension of the time, as Europe teeters on the brink of World War II. Ella grapples with conflicting loyalties – torn between her duty to her family, friends, and country, and the dangerous path she treads as a resistor within the Nazi hierarchy. The stakes are high, and every move she makes could lead to her demise.

Parusel skillfully paints a vivid picture of Ella's journey, highlighting the sacrifices and risks she takes to save the people she loves. The narrative is rich in historical detail, immersing readers in the complexities of a dark period in European history. The author portrays Ella's character with depth and authenticity, making her struggles relatable and her courage inspiring.

Fans of historical fiction, especially those who enjoy the works of Suzanne Goldring, Mandy Robotham, and Debbie Rix, will find "The Austrian Bride" to be a compelling and heartbreaking read. Parusel's storytelling prowess shines through, delivering a gripping narrative that explores the strength of women and the unwavering courage of those who dare to resist in the face of oppression. This novel is a poignant addition to the World War II fiction genre, offering a fresh perspective on the indomitable human spirit during one of the darkest periods in history.

Thanks to Netgalley and Boldwood books for an advance copy of my honest review

Was this review helpful?

✿.。.:* ☆:**:. Kinder, Kirche, und Küche .:**:.☆*.:。.✿

This touching, tightly woven story from an always impressive author centers around the three Ks of women’s work under the Third Reich - Children, Church, and Kitchen.

Trust me, Parusel knows what she’s doing by stirring up big feels! By tapping into our emotions, even disgust and disdain such as the restraints above, the author ensures that she’s engaged her readers.

Set in March 1938 in Linz just as Austria is annexed for the Third Reich, this powerful story follows a mother and daughter as they fight against the increasing number of rules being imposed upon women.

Twenty-one-year-old Ella Mayer is head over heels in love with her handsome boyfriend, Maximilian Giesler. Shocked that he proposes so soon after they start dating, Ella is at first starry-eyed and oblivious to him re-aligning his ideals to fit with the other new Nazi party members. When she’s offered a coveted spot in Linz’s first Reich Bride School she realizes she’s got an important choice to make - save the people she loves by betraying the Nazis or live with the consequences that come with security within the Party.

Rooted in history and with an amazing sense of place, Parusel’s stunning sophomore book rivals her debut. She’s crafted one beautifully rendered scene after another, showcasing the tensions that derive from making the right choice, from letting go and allowing children to make their own way in life, from allowing our past choices to influence our present and future paths, from fear of repercussions in voting, in whom we befriend, and who we choose to keep and let go.

Parusel brings something new to the table for all us historical fiction lovers:

✔️Ostmark and the struggle for a new identity
✔️Aranization and the divisions among friends/neighbours/family
✔️Mutterkreuz and the opposing reactions to it
✔️Anschluss and the struggle to vote
✔️Albert Goring, Hermann’s anti-Nazi brother
✔️inclusion of a young Adolf Hitler
✔️Bridal boot camps

The inclusion of a middle-aged couple and their struggles, both marital, parental and healthwise, are a lovely addition to an often overlooked demographic.

This will be among the top of my favourite historical fiction reads for the year!

I was gifted this copy by Boldwood Books and NetGalley and was under no obligation to provide a review

Was this review helpful?

The Austrian Bride is the latest novel from historical fiction author Helen Parusel. After reading – and loving – her debut novel A Mother’s War last year, I was eagerly anticipating the release of The Austrian Bride and it only exceeded my expectations.
Helen Parusel has a truly captivating writing style which immerses you into the story and makes it impossible to put the book down. She writes tension incredibly well and leaves readers on the edge of their seats. The book captured my emotions so intensely that I was audibly gasping, shouting and even sobbing along with the story.
The story is told through a perfectly-paced dual POV narrative, alternating between the perspectives of Ella and her mother Marlene. The two arcs interplayed with each other really nicely and allowed us to explore both their individual stories, particularly with how they were each supporting resistance efforts, and also their mother/daughter relationship. I’ve not seen a dual POV featuring a mother and daughter used within historical fiction in this way before and it provided a unique and incredibly powerful aspect to the story.
As you can expect from Helen Parusel, the story was impeccably researched and covered important topics such as the Anschluss, Kindertransport, Reich Bride Schools and the gradual build up to war in brilliant depth. The Austrian setting came alive on the page.
Ella was a fantastically written character who made a wonderful protagonist. It was wonderful to see her gradually grow disillusioned with Nazi ideology as the story progressed, eventually working to use her insider knowledge to help those being persecuted. Marlene was also a brilliant and beautifully complex character with incredible strength and courage. The Austrian Bride also has a nice romantic aspect and I loved the blossoming relationship between Ella and Jayden. They had some really sweet scenes and I was rooting for them from the beginning.
Our two primary antagonists in Max and Heinrich Steiner were both brilliantly written. Steiner made my skin crawl whenever he appeared, he was a truly vile character but this is credit to how well Helen Parusel can write antagonists. Max was also an excellent antagonist and there is a great twist to his character which suddenly explains a lot of his behaviour throughout the book.
Overall, The Austrian Bride is an incredible book which has truly set the standard high for all historical fiction which has to follow it in 2024. Helen Parusel has very quickly become one of my favourite writers within the genre and she really is one to watch. I will be recommending The Austrian Bride to anyone who will listen, but especially to fans of Second World War historical fiction as this is a must-read story.


I have posted an extended review on my blog and the post is linked.

Was this review helpful?

Set just before the Second World War, we are taken to Austria as a vote is to be taken on whether Austria should join the greater German republic. History has already told us the outcome of that decision, but I knew nothing of the circumstances surrounding the choice. The descriptions of the escalating mob mentality and the venomous attitudes of the Austrian people caused me to repeatedly pause to regain my composure.
Ella holds the main focus in this book, although her mother, Marlene lends breathtaking support as she returns to her resistance ways and helps those in immediate danger.
As the Synopsis explains, Ella becomes enrolled in a Reich Bride School. This is something that I had never heard of, and I wish that I was still in the dark. The Fiancée’s of Nazi officers were trained in antisemitic propaganda and reading about it made my stomach churn. I found it particularly difficult to not draw comparisons with some of the inhumanity that we are witnessing in this day and age.
Despite the sombre themes in the book, I felt uplifted to be part of the movement to relieve the oppression of the Jews. The bravery of some of the Austrian people seemed to know no bounds when faced with the dangerous spectre of the rise of Nazi mentality.
The story accelerates toward a dangerous, terrifying climax for both mother and daughter, and I could feel my pulse racing as I hoped for some form of a happy ending.
The Austrian Bride tells an important story that I am glad I now know, as it has helped me to understand more about Austria’s involvement in WW2. Yes, I appreciate that the story is only partly factual, but I also know that it is inspired by a part of world history that needs to keep being shared.
An important novel that challenged me to bravely step out of my comfort zone. Everything about this book was perfectly executed. The story arc and the character development were excellent and left me believing that these people had existed and endured the unspeakable acts portrayed. Then I realised that whilst the people may not be real, their experiences were all based on terrifying facts. I genuinely recommend this book; it’s powerful, lamentable, and wholly important to help understand how people are so easily manipulated.

Was this review helpful?

Thanks to the Publisher and Netgalley for an early review copy.

I thoroughly enjoyed this gripping story that I found hard to put down.

It’s set before the war happened in Austria, at the time when the Nazi’s occupied it.

It’s so well written and researched.

I highly recommend this book.

Was this review helpful?

I loved this book from start to finish , i couldn't put it down, loads of twists and turns. I look forward to more by this author.

Was this review helpful?

I enjoyed this WWII historical fiction novel set in Linz, Austria, It was told from 2 perspectives, a mother and daughter Ella and Marlene. Ella is young and along with her boyfriend Max was swept up in the excitement of a promising future with Hitler. Soon comes the Austrian vote for annexation or Anschluss and the decision of whether or not to become a part of Germany. Her mother Marlene, was more skeptical of the promises made. Soon, they are both horrified at the changes they are seeing in Austria, as it’s becoming more Aranization of the country and hatred of Jews and others of different descent. They are seeing people shot and beaten up in the streets. She realizes she must do something. Once Ella is engaged to her boyfriend Max, she agrees to attend the Reich Bridal School, knowing the secrets she can uncover.

I loved the main characters, Ella and Marlene and how brave they were in the face of danger. I learned more about Austria at the beginning of WWII and the annexation of Austria, as well as bridal schools and the awards they gave to German mothers who produced 4 children. This was a page-turner of a story as I wanted to find out what would happen next. I wasn’t disappointed.

Thanks to Rachel’s Random Resources, Boldwood, Netgalley and the author for the ARC of this novel.

Was this review helpful?