‘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.’
The Gathering Storm is the first book in the Der Sturmtaucher, The Shearwater Trilogy. My one bit of advice would be to not let the length of the book put you off. It can feel a bit daunting when you see a big page count but the author skillfully draws his reader straight in and takes them back in time in the run up to World War 2 starting.
The story focuses on two families, the Kastners and the Nussbaums. The Kastners are a German family who are quite well to do due to General Kastners standing within the community and his work. The Nussbaums are a Jewish family of which Miriam and Yosef work for the Kastners with Miriam being cook and housekeeper and Yosef being a driver as well as general handyman around the property. They have two children, Manny and Ruth.
These are two families who have got on well over the years and their children have played together as well as celebrated birthdays together and at times the families felt like good friends rather than an employer and employee. So many historical books to do with the Holocaust and World War 2, tend to focus on the time during the war rather than the build up to it. This author has meticulously taken time so the reader can feel the uncertainty and strain that the time before puts on the Jewish community. It was awful to read of how businesses and schools would turn on anyone that was not just Jewish, but even married to a Jew or anyone helping them. The pressure that was put on people to have nothing to do with them and the contempt that so many started to show. It really can be quite a heartbreaking read at times. It also had me change my mind on some characters.
Maria, the General’s wife, was one such character who went steadily down in my estimation. With the threat of war getting closer, in some ways I could understand her fears for herself and her own family but the way she changes towards the Nussbaums, I found it hard to accept. The General on the other hand is a man with compassion, who goes above and beyond.
The story flicks mainly between the General and Yosef and his wife. It was interesting to see how the two families deal with the upcoming issues and I began to feel the fears and feelings that they were experiencing. There are also memos that make the presence of the upcoming war felt and it also added to the realisticness of this story. You can certainly see that the author must have spent a great deal of time researching as it felt all too real.
The Gathering Storm couldn’t have been a more perfect title for this book. You can feel the war brewing and it is a story that will have a deep impact on it’s reader. My emotions are already in overdrive in the time leading up to the war, so I can only imagine how much heartache and horrors that are awaiting me in the second book in the trilogy. The author has created characters that I felt really invested in and their story had me hooked throughout. The pacing was spot on and I was fully engaged. I couldn’t wait to pick this book back up and devoured it with every given opportunity. It is highly informative and historically correct as well as being an utterly brilliant read. Very different from the author’s previous novels but an absolute must read for anyone who enjoys historical fiction set during and around World War 2.
Alan Jones is a Scottish author with three gritty crime stories to his name, the first two set in Glasgow, the third one based in London. He has now switched genres, and his WW2 trilogy will be published from August to December 2021. It is a Holocaust story set in Northern Germany.
He is married with four grown up children and four wonderful grandchildren. He has recently retired as a mixed-practice vet in a small Scottish coastal town in Ayrshire and is one of the coxswains on the local RNLI lifeboat. He makes furniture in his spare time, and maintains and sails a 45-year-old yacht, cruising in the Irish Sea and on the beautiful west coast of Scotland. He loves reading, watching films and cooking. He still plays football despite being just the wrong side of sixty.
His crime novels are not for the faint-hearted, with some strong language, violence, and various degrees of sexual content. The first two books also contain a fair smattering of Glasgow slang.
He is one of the few self-published authors to be given a panel at the Bloody Scotland crime fiction festival in Stirling and has done two pop-up book launches at previous festivals.
He has spent the last five years researching and writing the Sturmtaucher Trilogy.
To find out more, please visit https://www.alanjonesbooks.co.uk/