My Dearest Dietrich: A Novel of Dietrich Bonhoeffer's Lost Love

My Dearest Dietrich: A Novel of Dietrich Bonhoeffer's Lost Love

A staggering love illuminating the dark corners of a Nazi prisonRenowned German pastor and theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer is famous for his resistance to the Nazi regime and for his allegiance to God over government. But what few realize is that the last years of his life also held a love story that rivals any romance novel.Maria von Wedemeyer knows the realities of war. H...

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Title:My Dearest Dietrich: A Novel of Dietrich Bonhoeffer's Lost Love
Author:Amanda Barratt
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My Dearest Dietrich: A Novel of Dietrich Bonhoeffer's Lost Love Reviews

  • Rachel McMillan

    One of the most impeccably researched books I have ever read in any genre in my reading life.

  • Rebecca

    "Always remember. It is only space that separates us."

    It takes an extraordinary writer to pen a story whose ending is eternity and whose beginning brings it back to life for all the world to see. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who arguably possessed one of the most brilliant theological minds of the last century, fought bravely and loved deeply. Who knew? Through letters written back and forth to his young fiance, Maria von Wedemeyer, we glimpse Bonhoeffer's passionate faith, a faith that pervaded his ver

    "Always remember. It is only space that separates us."

    It takes an extraordinary writer to pen a story whose ending is eternity and whose beginning brings it back to life for all the world to see. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who arguably possessed one of the most brilliant theological minds of the last century, fought bravely and loved deeply. Who knew? Through letters written back and forth to his young fiance, Maria von Wedemeyer, we glimpse Bonhoeffer's passionate faith, a faith that pervaded his very being and overflowed into his heart.

    "What was faith if it was not living fully and completely in all of life - its joys and sorrows, burdens and blessings? . . . . . 'I have given you so little, but if my unending love is worth anything, then it is yours. Know that what ever comes, it is and always will be . . . yours.'"

    Yes, this story is filled with times and places, events and circumstances; recounts of lives that were snuffed out prematurely at the whim of a diabolical regime, but mercifully it paints a picture of loveliness and light in the midst of darkness and inconceivable brutality, so that we may proclaim with boldness, "Auf Wiedersehen" our dearest Dietrich and Maria. "It is only space that separates us."

    I received a copy of this book from the author and publisher. The opinions stated above are entirely my own.

  • Renee

    “I hold your picture in my hand every night, and tell you lots of things—lots of ‘do you remembers,’ and ‘later ons’—so many of them that I finally can’t help believing that they’re only a small step away from the present. And then I tell you all the things that can’t be put into writing—certainly not if other people have to read my letters—but things you already know without my writing them down.” ~from Maria von Wedemeyer to Dietrich Bonhoeffer~

    As a fan of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, I applaud Amanda

    “I hold your picture in my hand every night, and tell you lots of things—lots of ‘do you remembers,’ and ‘later ons’—so many of them that I finally can’t help believing that they’re only a small step away from the present. And then I tell you all the things that can’t be put into writing—certainly not if other people have to read my letters—but things you already know without my writing them down.” ~from Maria von Wedemeyer to Dietrich Bonhoeffer~

    As a fan of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, I applaud Amanda Barratt for making his story available and relatable to all readers through this beautiful historical fiction novel!

    Through her writing, Bonhoeffer’s admirable qualities—his bravery, commitment, eloquence, kindness, faithfulness—shine, yet we also see him as a man in love, hoping for a happy future surrounded by wife and children. This makes his willingness to risk his life and personal happiness in order to stand against evil even more poignant and powerful.

    If you’re not familiar with the story, during WWII, Bonhoeffer, “a balding bachelor of thirty-six” fell in love Maria von Wedemeyer “a beautiful eighteen-year-old who could take her pick among any aristocratic young man she fancied.” Perhaps what made an impression on him was that the first time he met her, she was disheveled and mud-covered from taking a stand against the neighborhood bully to protect an innocent. Maria was a “muddy, Goethe-quoting girl who’d swept into the room, disordering it—and him—in a matter of seconds.”

    As a man who “didn’t have a regular income, lived with his parents in Berlin and his aunt when in Munich” and had “written few books, preached lots of sermons, and now worked daily in a conspiracy that could just as easily get him killed as not,” Dietrich had little to offer her. Yet Maria found herself drawn to him.

    Wise beyond her years, she at first believed: “Though she didn’t yet love him in the way of a woman on her wedding day, she knew beyond anything that she would.” However, through letters and visits to Dietrich while he was in prison, their bond grew. Maria claimed: “Is there a limit to how much one heart can miss another? If so, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, I haven’t found it.”

    Their relationship shows how friendship can grow into love.

    This is a thoroughly researched story of love, sacrifice, courage, family bonds, duty, romance, and—above all—faith. At times gripping, at times sweetly romantic, it’s a great read!

    I’ve already started giving hard copies of this book as gifts. Can’t wait to share this story with my students!

    Thanks to Amanda Barratt, NetGalley, and Kregel Publications for giving me the opportunity to read this book.

    Quotes I like:

    “I admire anyone seeking to defend the defenseless. Even if she did go about it in a rather … interesting manner.”

    “‘Only from a peaceful, free, healed heart can anything good and right take place.’ A beautiful sentence. She wanted to own it for herself, to be peaceful, free, and healed when everything around her was at war, constrained, and broken.”

    “We have been silent witnesses of evil deeds; we have been drenched by many storms; we have learnt the arts of equivocation and pretense; experience has made us suspicious of others and kept us from being truthful and open; intolerable conflicts have worn us down and even made us cynical. Are we still of any use? What we shall need is not geniuses, or cynics, or misanthropes, or clever tacticians, but plain, honest, straightforward men…. There remains for us an experience of incomparable value. We have for once learnt to see the great events of world history from below, from the perspective of the outcast, the suspects, the maltreated, the powerless, the oppressed, the reviled—in short, from the perspective of those who suffer.” ~Dietrich Bonhoeffer~

    “Fear had imprisoned her. And she wanted nothing more than to rip off the chains . . . she wouldn’t withhold herself from contacting her fiancé any longer. If danger came to her, so be it. She was ready for it. They all faced danger daily. Wasn’t it right and good to meet it with those who mattered most?”

    “She tilted her head to look at him. How different he seemed now, simply a man walking beside her instead of the great pastor in the pulpit. And she, no longer the little girl relegated to playing with her brothers and sisters, could be free to converse with him on equal terms. Tonight had the texture of hope in it, brought on perhaps by the presence of this man who seemed to emanate it. As if the fragrance in the air and the shades of the sky gave them permission to temporarily forget about all that went on in the world outside Klein-Krössin.”

    “There was this church I attended. Abyssinian Baptist. Church in America is an entirely different experience than here in Germany . . . It was there that I learned, perhaps for the very first time, what it was to be not just a theologian but an actual Christian. Someone who took the gospel out of dusty pages and ancient cathedrals and applied it to day-to-day life and everyday people, while still maintaining the truth of that gospel, without attempting to dilute it into something weak and popular.”

    “Their country was being destroyed. Not only by battle and bombs, but by an all-encompassing allegiance to a regime that spread its poison like a toxin through the country’s veins. Lethal. She didn’t want any part in it. Though she may be forced to continue her national service, she’d not let the Vogels rule her. She’d continue to feed Boris, tell the little girls bedtime stories about a Lord other than Adolf Hitler. She’d resist. Even in the small ways.”

    “I don’t believe in allowing another to do what I cannot, simply to absolve myself of guilt. You asked if I would be willing to take up arms and assassinate Adolf Hitler?” Dietrich swallowed, throat suddenly dry. “I know I would have to resign from any position I held in the church. But ja, I would. Guilt must not be left to others, but taken upon ourselves.”

  • Melissa Tagg

    Oh my goodness, this book!

    First of all, can I just say how amazing 2019 has been for books that blow me away? I mean, I read a lot. And I'd say each year, there are quite a few books I really, really like...and maybe 10 or 12 that make me think, wow, that was even better than expected...and 1 or 2 that I just can't stop talking about for the rest of the year. This year, I think there's been 3 or 4 already that are in the latter category.

    And this is one of them!

    My Dearest Dietrich is gorgeously w

    Oh my goodness, this book!

    First of all, can I just say how amazing 2019 has been for books that blow me away? I mean, I read a lot. And I'd say each year, there are quite a few books I really, really like...and maybe 10 or 12 that make me think, wow, that was even better than expected...and 1 or 2 that I just can't stop talking about for the rest of the year. This year, I think there's been 3 or 4 already that are in the latter category.

    And this is one of them!

    My Dearest Dietrich is gorgeously written and impeccably researched. It makes Dietrich Bonhoeffer--a man I've read enough about to admire greatly--into a "real" man rather than just a pretty sweet historical figure. And it makes Maria a real and vibrant and lovable person, too. She's not just part of Bonhoeffer's narrative...she has her own rich journey. This history is vivid and heartbreaking. I'll admit I kept putting off reading the ending because I knew enough of Bonhoeffer's story to know where it was going...but once I got there, once I turned the last page, I knew the story was far from over—in reality and in my own heart. I can't possibly recommend this highly enough. A poignant and thoughtful masterpiece from Amanda Barratt!

    Just a side note - I also really appreciated the author's addendum at the end, giving updates on what happened to various characters and letting us know which pieces of the story were fact (the majority were) and which were author liberties. She did a truly outstanding job not just incorporating real events, but making those events the story while weaving in just enough fiction to make this truly feel like a novel (and a romantic one, at that) versus, well, a recapping of history.

  • Jocelyn Green

    As beautiful as it is brave, My Dearest Dietrich is an illuminating novel that both exposes the darkness and chases the shadows away. This is a multi-faceted story of the highest stakes and the deepest loves, and Amanda Barratt has proved herself worthy of its telling.

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