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Book Review of Swan Song: A Novel by Elizabeth B. Splaine

Swan Song: A Novel by Elizabeth B. Splaine

Ursula Becker’s operatic star is on the rise in 1933 Nazi Berlin…until she discovers that she is one-quarter Jewish, a mischling of the second degree. Although Hitler is aware of her lineage, her voice and resemblance to his niece with whom he had an affair protects her from persecution. Ursula’s violin-prodigy half sister comes of age, and she comes to the attention of the Führer, who begins a relationship with the awestruck teenager.
Adolf’s nephew, William Patrick Hitler, arrives in Germany and is offered employment by his doting Uncle Adolf. A chance encounter with Ursula leads to a romantic relationship that further shields the young diva from mistreatment. But for how long?
Restrictions on Hitler’s perceived enemies tighten, and Ursula is ordered to sing at Hitler’s Berghof estate. There she unknowingly throws down a gauntlet that unleashes the wrath of the vindictive megalomaniacal leader. Fearing for her life, Ursula and Willy decide to emigrate to England. But as the ship is about to sail, Ursula vanishes.
Desperately hoping that Ursula is still alive, Willy crosses the globe in an effort to find her, even as his obsessive uncle taunts him, relishing in the horror of the murderous cat-and-mouse game. 
Featuring historical events, places and people, Swan Song of a Jewish Diva is a devastatingly gripping love story wrapped in a dramatic war thriller that will have you hooked from the first tantalizing chapter.

Swan Song: A Novel Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I was compensated with a small amount for my time and effort in reading the book and writing this review. However, all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own and are based on my honest personal experience reading the book. Nor did the publisher in any way shape or form ever pressure me to give a positive review.

Swan Song: A Novel take place in Nazi Berlin during the 1930s, as budding opera singer Ursula Becker learns she is half Jewish. Hitler knows about it, but her fame keeps her safe from punishment. When Ursula’s half-sister attracts the Führer’s attention, a fortuitous meeting with William Patrick Hitler results in a love partnership that protects Ursula. But when the rules became more stringent, Ursula is forced to sing at Hitler’s Berghof estate, which sparks a potentially explosive altercation.

Ursula and Willy decide to immigrate to England out of fear for their lives, but just before they set sail, Ursula vanishes without explanation. Setting out on an international hunt for her, Willy must play a dangerous game of cat and mouse with his obnoxious uncle. Splaine shows the resiliency of people caught in the turbulent period of World Conflict II by weaving a compelling story of control, love, and conflict.

Romance, music, and history are all expertly combined in this book to create a compelling story that will appeal to readers who are familiar with or especially interested in these three subjects. Immersion worldbuilding is based on the historical context, which was formed by the ongoing conflict. Throughout the narrative, music—which is deeply ingrained in Ursula’s identity—becomes a potent instrument for self-expression and growth. It is a means through which Ursula expresses her ideas, feelings, and messages. Beyond just an aesthetic background, music turns into a powerful ally and a tool for Ursula to take back control of her story, giving her character’s journey more nuance inside the gripping storyline.

As a history enthusiast, I found the historical details in the setting exceptionally well-executed. The portrayal felt authentic and realistic, aligning seamlessly with my knowledge of the period and the historical events involving the Jewish community during World War II. The integration of real-world circumstances with fictional characters was skillfully executed, avoiding any awkwardness. Ursula’s introduction into the narrative felt natural and fitting, providing an excellent channel for readers to experience the unfolding events through her perspective and eyes.

Even though I’m not as knowledgeable about music as I am about history, I was still able to appreciate the level of passion and attention to detail that went into the book’s use of music. I found the level of detail to be so intriguing that I had to read more. I was shocked to learn that Elizabeth was a former classical singing instructor, which gave the narrative’s musical components more realism.

Reading the book, I became deeply involved and invested in the plot because of the characters and their interactions. This dynamic helps to create a masterful balance between the romance aspects and the main story. The relationship and the storyline are not distinct elements; rather, they are deeply entwined, amplifying the effect of each other. It’s obvious that the two work well together; they complement one another and merge in a way that makes reading more enjoyable overall.

Even though it covered serious and important topics, this book was never “difficult” to read or get through. I never felt like I was struggling to finish it; instead, I was constantly interested and really excited to read more. This show’s smooth transitions and ongoing entertainment value are noteworthy features, particularly in the face of difficult subjects. It enhanced my whole reading experience in a fascinating way, making the book both thought-provoking and engrossing.

Readers become active players in a symphony where each page turn adds a note to the profound melody of human experience as they navigate the colorful landscapes of Nazi Germany and beyond. Swan Song serves as a poignant reminder that, even in the most difficult circumstances, the human spirit can shine through the darkness and leave a lasting impression on history, much like the song of a swan.

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About the Author of Swan Song: A Novel

Elizabeth B. Splaine wrote the Dr. Julian Stryker series of “Blind” thrillers (Blind Order and Blind Knowledge), as well as Devil’s Grace, the winner of the When Words Count writing competition, released through Greenwriters Press. Her next book, Swan Song, an historical fiction novel, was released in October 2021 through Woodhall Press and was voted one of the “2021 Top 35 Impressive Indie Releases” by Her next novel, called Steel Butterflies, is Young Adult and was released in April 2023 through Van Velzer Press. She also has a children’s book called Tyrone the Tenor Mouse, a story about a mouse who lives in an opera house and has great dreams of one day being on stage.
Prior to writing, Elizabeth earned an AB in Psychology from Duke University and an MHA from University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. She spent eleven years working in health care before switching careers to become a professional opera singer and voice teacher.
When not writing, Elizabeth teaches classical voice in Rhode Island where she lives with her family.

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