I love reading Sarah Sundin’s historical fiction novels and that’s why I was excited to read her newest book When Twilight Breaks. This story starts before the beginning of World War II. Unlike her earlier WWII novels, this story is not focused on characters in the military.
Evelyn Brand is an American correspondent for American News Service based in Munich, Germany in 1938. She has a few strikes against her, she’s a woman, young, and will do whatever it takes to get a story. Evelyn wants to expose the truth of what’s she’s seeing no matter whose toes she’s stepping on. Denied the opportunity to go where the action is at, Evelyn was sent to do a softball story about American students and their experiences at the University of Munich. It’s there that Evelyn meets Peter Lang who is working on his Ph.D. in German. Evelyn and Peter couldn’t be much different. He appreciates what he sees in Germany, the changes that have happened since 1932 with prosperity, no unemployment, seemingly secure and very orderly. Peter takes a fancy to Evelyn, though it’s not mutual, he is not easily deterred.
I struggled a bit with this book. Evelyn’s character was rather off-putting. She came across as judgmental and a know-it-all. I felt like I was reading a story with a modern-day woman being put in the middle of a story in the 1930’s. Something that’s common in today’s movies and TV shows is to portray men as being inferior to women. I almost felt like that was what I was seeing and it surprised me in a book from an author who is Christian. Evelyn was shown to have the moral high ground in recognizing the wrong road Germany was headed down. Peter was depicted as someone who was somewhat blind to the changing atmosphere in Germany.
My favorite character was Peter. Though he was slow to start seeing the growing threat to Jewish people in Germany, once he recognized it, he didn’t hesitate to try to help people who were being victimized. He was kind, caring, patient, and ready to put his life on the line and risk everything he had worked for to help a friend in need.
I did like the secondary characters, Evelyn’s friend Elizabeth White, Herr Gold and Peter’s friends the Schreiber family, and Paul and Simone Aubrey. There were some heartwarming and good surprises about friends as well as vile words and behavior from so-called friends.
Regarding the Christian faith, there wasn’t a lot about faith included in When Twilight Breaks. It was “Christian lite” on the substance of faith and the Gospel was not shared. I think the book would have been richer if that element of the story had been developed.
The views of men and women in this book seem to reflect a more secular view from today’s culture. I was pleasantly surprised by the change in Evelyn. At first, she seemed selfish and ready to put people at risk for her cause, but later she learned the importance of being interdependent and putting others first.
It was somewhat eerie reading about the growing intolerance for people who were deemed inferior since we are beginning to see that in our own Country. A good warning to not go down that path.
I had mixed feelings about this book. I liked the character Peter and grew to appreciate Evelyn’s passion to get the truth out about what was happening in Germany. It made me think about what it must have been like for the people living in Germany, both the Jewish people who were being persecuted and the German citizens who saw what was going on. I found it both sobering and terrifying.
I wasn’t keen on the feminist aspects of this book, especially in light of it being written by a Christian author and published by a company that publishes Christian books and authors.
Would I recommend When Twilight Breaks? I like Sarah Sundin’s writing, she’s a good storyteller. However, I think this book was not as good as some of her other books because of what felt like a feminist agenda as opposed to telling a story. It was informative, disturbing, and interesting to see the progression of Germany going down the wrong road.
I would like to thank Revell Publishing Group and NetGalley for the opportunity to read When Twilight Breaks by Sarah Sundin. I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.