“Sometimes you got great pictures with skill, Jordan later thought, and sometimes great pictures just happened.”
Title: The Huntress
Author: Kate Quinn
Published:February 26th 2019 by William Morrow Paperbacks/HarperCollins
Genre: Historical Fiction, World War II
Goodreads Rating: 4.38
“In the aftermath of war, the hunter becomes the hunted…
Bold, reckless Nina Markova grows up on the icy edge of Soviet Russia, dreaming of flight and fearing nothing. When the tide of war sweeps over her homeland, she gambles everything to join the infamous Night Witches, an all-female night bomber regiment wreaking havoc on Hitler’s eastern front. But when she is downed behind enemy lines and thrown across the path of a lethal Nazi murderess known as the Huntress, Nina must use all her wits to survive.
British war correspondent Ian Graham has witnessed the horrors of war from Omaha Beach to the Nuremberg Trials. He abandons journalism after the war to become a Nazi hunter, yet one target eludes him: the Huntress. Fierce, disciplined Ian must join forces with brazen, cocksure Nina, the only witness to escape the Huntress alive. But a shared secret could derail their mission, unless Ian and Nina force themselves to confront it.
Seventeen-year-old Jordan McBride grows up in post WWII Boston, determined despite family opposition to become a photographer. At first delighted when her long-widowed father brings home a fiancée, Jordan grows increasingly disquieted by the soft-spoken German widow who seems to be hiding something. Armed only with her camera and her wits, Jordan delves into her new stepmother’s past and slowly realizes there are mysteries buried deep in her family. But Jordan’s search for the truth may threaten all she holds dear.”
The story line is divided into three very unique perspectives. You have Ian, a British journalist who documented the war and now works to persecute Nazis. You have Jordan a Bostonian girl of 18, who is coming to a cross roads in her life and is stuck between doing what she wants and what she should do. And you have Nina, a women Russian pilot who only has one fear.
The additional story line that falls into the novel, though it’s a main POV, as well is of Anna, who was the mistress of a high ranking Nazi official who has now hidden herself within the home of Jordan and her father, in an effort to have a new, in-hunted life. The stories each of these folks bring to the table are utterly different and complex. They remind us that being human is hard and that the world isn’t such a big place after all.
The biggest thought this book produced for me though is the concept of, who is actually right in something such as World War II. Hear me out. Victors are the ones that write history, right. They are the ones who say who on the losing side are criminals, but isn’t that a little skewed? Now I do not by any means want to understate or say the holocaust wasn’t a big a factor during World War II, but it wasn’t the only by-product of the war. I also never want anyone to think that the holocaust and what happened there was anything other than horrific and a huge stain on humanity. But at the same time can we blame the general population for the actions of the it’s leaders?
The main reason I bring this topic up is that Ian and his partner Tony are Nazi hunters. After the big names were arrested, put on trial, or killed they were the ones to continue hunting Nazis, no matter how small of an impact they had. I’m not saying what some of these folks did was necessary right but many of them were probably your average everyday citizen who were doing what they could to survive during a war. Is it really up to people on the winning side to decide what happens to them? I don’t agree with everything Congress passes but I would still stand with my country, how do we know that some of those accused weren’t doing the same?
War changes people. It changes their environment and their day to day, which leads to changes in their personalities. Who people are in war are not who they are in peaceful times. Our urge to self preserve is to great to continue staying the same. This book does a great job challenging our thoughts around who people really are and addressing the question of, ‘can you still love someone, even thought they’ve done terrible things.” The relationship we see grow between Anna and Jordan is a perfect representation of this. Does Jordan agree with what Anna has done, no. But is she wrong for still loving a women who has cared for her and pushed her to be more than just a housewife? absolutely. We are allowed to have multiple emotions, more often than not they’re going to conflict, and we need to accept that life isn’t black and white.
This book makes you think.
On a lighter note, Quinn points out some less than known facts. My favorite being I had no idea the Russian’s had three regimen of women pilots during World War II, one which was a bombing squad called the ‘Night Witches’ because of how efficient and deadly they were. Nina, who is my favorite storyline by the way, is one of these pilots and to get inside her head a bit is fascinating.
“I married a bloody madwoman, Ian thought. As if she could hear him, Nina reached up behind head and touched his cheek. This time he heard her when she said, ‘We won’t crash’ “
This book is long, and I personal think it needed to be this long in order to articulate the extremely diverse level of experiences each of the main POV’s had during World War II and post the war. Each of them have lost something, each of them have found something, and each of them are learning to live again. The one thing I’ll mentioned as well, is that this book covers the holocaust at a surface level, which I like because it draws your attention to things that are usually overlooked at the War and post-War life. I would highly recommend it and if you do read it, come back here and talk to me about it because I’m obsessed. Get it HERE!
“That cheap Kodak snap was the best picture of Jordan McBride ever taken, in its subject’s opinion. Blue jeans and a ponytail, caught in motion alway up a staircase, slinging the Leica casually over one should as she looked back at the camera. A woman on the move, with a gleam in her eye like a lens.
It was the photo most used by J.Bryde, in her byline.”