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Tag: Amanda Barratt

Author Interview with Amanda Barratt and a Giveaway!!

I’m so excited to introduce my Romancing History readers to the amazingly talented author, Amanda Barratt. Amanda and I met online when I heard the buzz about her previous novel, My Dearest Dietrich: A Novel of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Lost Love. And if you’ve been following my blog or on social media, you know I gushed over this book. You can see my full review here.

Amanda’s most recent novel, The White Rose Resists: A Novel of the German Students Who Defied Hitler, released last month from Kregel Publications. I was honored to be part of the launch team for this book.

The White Rose Resists follows the story of university Hans and Sophie Scholl who dared to keep silent and urged their fellow Germans to speak out against the Nazi regime. The novel is told from Sophie’s point of view as well as two fictional characters, Annalise Brandt and Kirk Hoffman.

I first learned about Hans and Sophie Scholl when my husband and I traveled to Germany in 2007. We had the opportunity to see the memorial dedicated to their sacrifice at the Ludwig-Maximilian University in Munich. It captures the moment that Hans and Sophie scattered leaflets in the university’s main atrium moments before they were apprehended. When I learned that Amanda was writing a novel to tell Sophie’s story, I couldn’t wait to read it.

Amanda did an astounding amount of research and weaves actual quotes from letters and diaries of those inside the White Rose into this book making for a spectacular, heart wrenching story! Themes of faith and truth run through The White Rose Resists, reminding the reader of the eternal fight of good versus evil and will leave you questioning what price you would pay for freedom. Please, folks, do yourself a favor and read this book! See my full review here.

Amanda is generously offering a $5 Amazon gift card to one Romancing History visitor. See the details at the bottom of this post.


About Amanda

Amanda Barratt is the ECPA best-selling author of over a dozen novels and novellas, including My Dearest Dietrich: A Novel of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Lost Love. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and a two-time FHL Reader’s Choice Award finalist. She and her family live in northern Michigan. Connect with her on Facebook, or visit her website.


About the Book

Inspired by the incredible true story of a group of ordinary men and women who dared to stand against evil

The ideal of a new Germany swept up Sophie Scholl in a maelstrom of patriotic fervor–that is, until she realized the truth behind Hitler’s machinations for the fatherland. Now she and other students in Munich, the cradle of the Nazi government, have banded together to form a group to fight for the truth: the White Rose. Risking everything to print and distribute leaflets calling for Germans to rise up against the evil permeating their country, the White Rose treads a knife’s edge of discovery by the Gestapo.

Annalise Brandt came to the University of Munich to study art, not get involved with conspiracy. The daughter of an SS officer, she’s been brought up to believe in the Führer’s divinely appointed leadership. But the more she comes to know Sophie and her friends, the more she questions the Nazi propaganda.

Soon Annalise joins their double life–students by day, resisters by night. And as the stakes increase, they’re all forced to confront the deadly consequences meted out to any who dare to oppose the Reich.

A gripping testament to courage, The White Rose Resists illuminates the sacrifice and conviction of an unlikely group of revolutionaries who refused to remain silent-no matter the cost.

Amazon     B&N     Christian Book Distributors


Author Interview

Fast Five

Coffee or Tea? Tea!I drink coffee as a treat at coffee shops (love mocha lattes) but I enjoy a cup of tea on an almost-daily basis.

Colin Firth or Matthew Macfadyen as Mr. Darcy? Colin Firth forever.

Bookmark or Dog Ear Pages? Which for me is usually a random piece of paper, rather than an actual bookmark.

Mexican or Chinese Food? Tacos are a weekly staple at our house. I love them topped with fresh salsa and homemade guacamole.

I Love Lucy or Get Smart? I Love Lucy. I’ve seen the episodes so many times I practically have them memorized. I love the comedy and Lucy’s fabulous 50’s fashion.

Author Q&A

RH: To get the ball rolling, why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself.

AB: I’ve been writing for about eight years. During the years before I was published, I completed 7 full-length manuscripts, all of which are safely nestled away in files on my computer, where most of them will remain. 🙂 I signed my first contract in 2014, and in 2015, two of my novellas released in anthologies published by Barbour. This year will see the release of my 3rd novel and my 12th  novella. While my novellas are historical romance, my last two novels are historical fiction based on true stories. Every book I write reflects my love for history, whether the story is based around historical events, delves into the lives of little-known historical figures, or illustrates how circumstances we face today—falling in love, dealing with loss, or entering a new season of life—were not so very different in days gone by.

RH: Twelve novellas? Wow! I didn’t realize that you had so many published works. Congratulations! What do you like to do when you’re not reading or writing?

AB: I love baking, spending time with family and friends, traveling, and watching costume dramas.

RH: Ahh, costume dramas. My hubby and I have been known to binge-watch those as well. Some of our recent favorites include Downton Abbey, Poldark, and Victoria. Describe the most unusual place you’ve had your fictional characters kiss.

AB: In My Dearest Dietrich, my characters shared several kisses in a prison visitation room. I loved exploring the juxtaposition between the innocence of new love and the harsh reality of confinement under the Nazi regime.

RH: Since I read and reviewed My Dearest Dietrich, I should’ve seen the answer to that one coming! What is your favorite place/time of day to write and why?

AB: Mid-morning. Though I admire authors who get up at 5 a.m. to write, alas I am not one of them. I don’t think I could write “See Spot Run” at that hour, much less a coherent chapter of a novel! I usually get up, spend a half hour reading the Bible and another non-fiction book (I’ve been enjoying lots of C.S. Lewis lately), have breakfast, and after checking email and social media, dive into my current WIP. Sometimes I’ve met my set word count before lunch, other times I work into the afternoon.

RH: I’m one of those early writers you mentioned above. I usually have the alarm set for 4:30 or 5:00 a.m. What was the inspiration behind your recent novel?

AB: While writing My Dearest Dietrich, I came across the story of Sophie Scholl in a book on youth in Nazi Germany. As I read about how a twenty-one-year-old woman formed an underground resistance group along with her brother and fellow students at the University of Munich, I was captivated. I wanted to discover her and answer the question: What made these men and women risk their lives to undertake resistance while their countrymen remained silent? The more I researched, the more Sophie’s story grabbed hold of my heart and begged me to share it.

White Rose Resistance Memorial, Munich, Germany; Photo courtesy of Picture Alliance via Getty Images copyright 2018

RH: Their bravery astounds me. I’d like to think I’d stand up for truth, justice, and freedom at any cost like Hans and Sophie, but I think that is something we will never truly know about ourselves unless we are tested. There were so many wonderful secondary characters in your The White Roses Resists, one do you think will resonate with readers? Why?

AB: Anyone familiar with the story of the White  Rose knows the names of Hans and Sophie Scholl. Yet they were far from the only ones involved in the student resistance. I was captivated by the stories of the other men and women I encountered during my research, particularly Alex Schmorell, who worked closely with the Scholls from the beginning of their resistance. Alex was charming and handsome, and had a deep affinity with his Russian heritage, as his mother was from Russia. His love for the Russian people and culture was unique at a time when German propaganda termed the Russians as “subhuman.” Like many of those in the White Rose, he was a committed Christian, and the letters he wrote to his family in the weeks before his execution are incredibly moving. You might say I fell a little bit in love with Alex while writing the novel.

RH: I enjoyed Alex’s story as well, especially the scenes during their summer stationed on the Russian front. Do you have a favorite quote from your recent release you’d like to share?

AB: “Each of us has been given one life. It’s ours to spend as we will. Every voice matters. If they arise as one, change can happen. But first, one has to rise. There has to be a beginning.”

RH: Amanda, that just gave me the chills all over again. Thank you so much for visiting with my readers today.


Giveaway**

This giveaway is now CLOSED. Congratulations to Kiki Stanton, the winner of the $5 Amazon gift card.

Amanda is giving away a $5 Amazon gift card to one lucky Romancing History reader. To enter, please tell us if you’d heard of Hans & Sophie Scholl or The White Rose Resistance, or any other groups that defied Hitler during WWII (Bonehoeffer, The Confessing Church, etc). What price would you be willing to pay for truth, justice and/or freedom?

** This giveaway ends, midnight, Wednesday, June 10th, 2020.**

Book Review: My Dearest Dietrich

About the Book


Title: My Dearest Dietrich: A Novel of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Lost Love
Series Info: Stand Alone
Author: Amanda Barratt
Genre: Historical Fiction with Strong Romantic Elements

Book Info: Kregel Publications, 360 pages, June 9, 2019


Tag Line

A staggering love illuminating the dark corners of a Nazi prison.


Blurb

Renowned German pastor and theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer is famous for his resistance to the Nazi regime and for his allegiance to God over government. But what few realize is that the last years of his life also held a love story that rivals any romance novel.

Maria von Wedemeyer knows the realities of war. Her beloved father and brother have both been killed on the battlefield. The last thing this spirited young woman needs is to fall for a man under constant surveillance by the Gestapo. How can she give another piece of her heart to a man so likely to share the same final fate? Yet when Dietrich Bonhoeffer, an old family friend, comes to comfort the von Wedemeyers after their losses, she discovers that love isn’t always logical.

Dietrich himself has determined to keep his distance from romantic attachments. There is too much work to be done for God, and his involvement in the conspiracy is far too important. But when he encounters a woman whose intelligence and conviction match his own, he’s unprepared for how easy it is to give away his heart.

With their deep love comes risk–and neither Dietrich nor Maria is prepared for just how great that risk soon becomes.

Based on detailed historical research, this true love story is at once beautiful and heartrending. My Dearest Dietrich sheds new light on a world-famous theologian . . . and the woman who changed his life.


My Thoughts

I’ve been looking forward to the release of My Dearest Dietrich: A Novel of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Lost Love since I first saw author Amanda Barratt‘s post that she’d signed a contract for the novel. Well folks, the wait is over and I can honestly say the book was everything I’d hoped for and so much more.

The depth of research that Barratt undertook to write this novel is staggering. It takes a talented writer to bring the love story of a well-known hero of the Christian faith to life even when the ending is inevitably known. Using numerous excerpts from the private love letters exchanged between Dietrich Bonhoeffer and his young fiancée, Maria von Wedemeyer, Barratt gives the reader a glimpse into the deep faith and tender romance between these ill-fated lovers.

Barratt doesn’t paint an overly-romanticized version of their relationship either. The nearly twenty year difference in their ages raises concern on the part of Maria’s mother as well as Dietrich’s involvement in subversive activities that, if discovered, could bring not only heartache to Maria, but danger for everyone she holds dear. Nor does the author avoid the dark circumstances surrounding Nazi Germany when the two inexplicably fall in love. She accurately portrays the horrific realities of WWII and life in Tegel prison—atrocities, heartbreak, endless interrogations, and constant surveillance, yet seemlessly weaves hopeful threads of triumph, strength, courage, endurance, and the ever present faith that carries the main players through all that stands in their way.

As a writer of historical romantic fiction myself, I thoroughly enjoyed the numerous historical details Barratt employed throughout making the setting and time period come alive without bogging the story down. From black out curtains and rations, to air raid sirens and secret plots, Barratt never lets us forget who her characters were and what was at stake for them. I especially appreciated the sprinkling of German words—mutter, vater, kaffe, and kuchen (just to name a few), that were not overdone or distracting from the story. I often found myself reading many of the other lines with my own feeble German accent.

It’s not uncommon for characters to stay with me long after I’ve finished a novel, but My Dearest Dietrich is a story I cannot stop ruminating over. With heart-wrenching angst and gut-twisting turmoil, Barratt kept me turning the pages and left me completely undone. I can honestly say that I’ve only reread a few books in my adult life, but I’m confident My Dearest Dietrich has earned a coveted spot among those rare titles whose story I will want to revisit time and time again.


Favorite Quotes

“Always remember. It is only space that separates us.”

“I’ve given you so little, but if my unending love is worth anything, then it is yours. Know that whatever comes, it is and will always be…yours.’

“Our love was destined to begin just when we parted…You felt you ‘couldn’t go on.’ So tell me, can you go on without me? And if you feel you can, can you still do so if you know that I can’t go on without you?”

“You, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, are my gift. And I need no other.”

“Lives would be taken by the Reich. Who knew when each of them might be required to surrender theirs. But spirits would live on, and someday, someday their stories would not be silent.”


Spiritual Takeaway

“What was faith if it was not living fully and completely in all of life—its joys and sorrows, burdens and blessings? Taking hold of what one was given, instead of fearing what may come.”

I imagine the previous quote tells you more about the spiritual takeaway from this story than anything I will expand upon here. I was greatly moved by the depth of Bonhoeffer’s faith in the spite of such horrific circumstances. To see this great man of the faith, struggle with questions of morality in the face of such evil made me realize that just because we may wrestle over the “right” Christian response, doesn’t mean we are weak in our beliefs. Actually, its quite the opposite. When our faith is strong and our desire to seek God’s will is earnest, we will grapple with applying our faith to the challenges the world around us presents. All we can do is what we sincerely believe to be “right” in that moment.

I was also deeply moved by the portrayal of Bonhoeffer’s life inside Tegel prison. While having much on his own plate to worry about—the fate of his family and fellow conspirators, his fiancée, and whether or not his own life would be spared, Dietrich put others first—ministering to those in the sick ward, those injured when Allied bombs struck the prison, and even comforting the prison chaplain who felt the strain of shepherding so many souls sentenced to death for “subversive” activities. Sometimes I think as believers we feel we need to have experienced extreme circumstances to have a testimony. Perhaps Bonhoeffer’s true legacy, even more than the great works he authored, is that he was quite simply a Christian who ministered to others right where he was in spite of his own weariness and difficult circumstances. He stepped outside of himself, and put others first.

Through the pages of My Dearest Dietrich, we not only see the well-known theologian but Bonhoeffer as he saw himself—an ordinary man living his faith daily to the best of his ability. This book has left a lasting imprint on my soul to love those around me to the best of my ability, be a breath of encouragement no matter the circumstances, and to stand strong in my beliefs.

“Whoever I am, Thou knowest, O God, I am Thine.” ~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Amen, Dietrich. Amen.


Links for purchase

Amazon           Barnes & Noble          CBD


About the Author

ECPA best-selling author Amanda Barratt fell in love with writing in grade school when she wrote her first story—a spinoff of Jane Eyre. Now, Amanda writes romantic, historical novels and novellas, penning stories of beauty and brokenness set against the backdrop of bygone eras not so very different from our own. Her novel My Dearest Dietrich: A Novel of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Lost Love, releases from Kregel Publications in June 2019.

She’s also the author of My Heart Belongs in Niagara Falls, New York: Adele’s Journey, as well as seven novellas with Barbour Publishing. Two of her novellas have been finalists in the FHL Reader’s Choice Awards.

 

 

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