It’s 1943 and Magda Ritter is sent to live with her aunt and uncle in Bavaria. While Magda is German, she is not part of the “party” and has no interest in joining. Nevertheless, she is expected to do her part as a German girl and manages to become employed at the Berghof, Hitler’s mountain retreat. Not knowing what her job will be, Magda shows up on her first day only to learn she will be risking her life every day as one of Hitler’s tasters – young women who taste Hitler’s meals before he eats them to guarantee they haven’t been poisoned.
I had such high hopes for this book but it just didn’t work out.
I felt the story was engaging and I enjoyed this new perspective on World War II. The life that Magda lives during the war is so different than many of the other characters I’ve read about in other WWII books. She is far from the realities of the war, well-fed, has plenty of money, and lives in a mountain retreat where the guards and employees are treated to movies, dances, and tea parties. Magda even becomes friends with Eva Braun.
However, even though I liked the storyline, I felt the characters were a little flat and thought some scenes could have been fleshed out more. The book is written in the first person point of view, and I thought there could have been much more details into what Magda was thinking and how she felt. Some scenes are completely glossed over and I never really connected to the characters. There is a lot of telling in this book, but not much showing.
Magda’s story is loosely based on a real woman named Margot Woelk who was one of Hitler’s tasters. She chose to keep her real-life story a secret until she was 95 years old. In some of the articles I read online, she talks about how her and the other tasters would cry every time they sampled the food because they thought it might be the last thing they ate. Her descriptions of her job and life were intriguing but I can’t even imagine what it would be like to be in her position.