A POW's secret wife inspires brave WWII story

“A man must know his destiny … if he does not recognize it, then he is lost. By this I mean, once, twice, or at the very most, three times, fate will reach out and tap a man on the shoulder … if he has the imagination, he will turn around and fate will point out to him what fork in the road he should take, if he has the guts, he will take it.” — George S. Patton Jr.

Sometimes we come across a story that we can’t quite forget. The sentiment or the events stick with us, because of the heightened emotions we connect with it. Our latest read was inspired by a true story of strangers banding together to protect a woman disguised as a man during World War II.

The Prisoner’s Wife by Maggie Brookes

When Maggie Brookes stepped onto an elevator, a man told her an unbelievable story about how when he was in a POW camp he helped protect the wife of a fellow prisoner during World War II. The author, whose father was also a POW, was drawn to the story and was inspired to write a fictional account of how a woman could have ended up in a POW camp.

Czech farm girl Izzy wants more from her life. She craves adventure and longs to join the resistance against the Nazis, even though her older brother and father forbid her from putting herself at risk when they left to aid the resistance. When a group of POWs are brought to her family’s farm one day to provide additional labor during the harvest, she meets Bill, a British soldier and the two fall deeply in love.

When the two hatch a scheme to get married in secret and flee, the couple is caught on the run while Izzy is disguised as a man and they are both sent to a POW camp, where Bill enlists some of his fellow prisoners to aid him in keeping Izzy’s secret.

“The Prisoner’s Wife” depicts the horrifying conditions and hunger POWs experienced during World War II, as Brookes tells Izzy and Bill’s courageous love story. This heartrending tale of hope reaches through the pages, reminding readers that with love and friendship even the darkest and most unbearable nights will eventually end. While “The Prisoner’s Wife” is a love story, it is also a narrative about humanity’s intrepid drive to survive, even when it seems that all hope is lost.

From the book jacket…

In the dead of night, a Czech farm girl and a British soldier travel through the countryside. Izabela and prisoner of war Bill have secretly married and are on the run, with Izzy dressed as a man. The young husband and wife evade capture for as long as possible — until they are cornered by Nazi soldiers with tracking dogs.

Izzy’s disguise works. The couple are assumed to be escaped British soldiers and transported to a POW camp. However, their ordeal has just begun, as they face appalling living conditions and the constant fear of Izzy’s exposure. But in the midst of danger and deprivation comes hope, for the young couple are befriended by a small group of fellow prisoners. These men become their new family, willing to jeopardize their lives to save Izzy from being discovered and shot.

If you enjoy…

For readers who enjoy falling into the World War II era love stories, consider picking up “The Tattooist of Auschwitz” by Heather Morris. The book is based on interviews with Holocaust survivor and Auschwitz-Birkenau tattooist Ludwig Sokolov.