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Jessica Shattuck Dives Into Conflicted German Identities In New Novel

 Jessica Shattuck's latest novel is "The Women in the Castle."
Jessica Shattuck's latest novel is "The Women in the Castle."
Credit Courtesy of Dorothea von Haeften/Harper Collins

At the end of World War II, three German widows find their lives and fates intertwined inside an old Bavarian castle. This begins Jessica Shattuck’s latest novel “The Women in the Castle.”

In it, the women confront the devastation of the war, their husbands’ participation in the plot to assassinate Hitler, and for one woman, her early sympathies with the Nazis.

Shattuck was inspired by her own grandparents’ experiences in Germany during and after World War II.

“My grandmother passed on a strong sense of shame about Germany’s role in World War II and the Holocaust,” said Shattuck. “My grandmother was very forthcoming about her life during World War II.

“She wanted not to be forgiven, not to be excused, but to be understood. One of the things that came up was this perplexing but passionately held belief she had that ‘you have to understand, we didn’t know.”

Shattuck will be at the Margaret Mitchell House Thursday at 7 p.m. to discuss the novel.