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 r...

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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 perv

    "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.

  • Susan

    This is a hauntingly beautiful tale- the kind that haunts the reader long after the last page has been read. It is a poignant love story of two people who become extraordinary during a dark time in history. It is a story of faith and how that faith becomes a beacon of light within such darkness.

    Amanda Barrett, a new to me author, has landed a spot on the top of my author list. Her prose is poetic and historical research is impeccable. Her skill in weaving the two into a story that wi

    This is a hauntingly beautiful tale- the kind that haunts the reader long after the last page has been read. It is a poignant love story of two people who become extraordinary during a dark time in history. It is a story of faith and how that faith becomes a beacon of light within such darkness.

    Amanda Barrett, a new to me author, has landed a spot on the top of my author list. Her prose is poetic and historical research is impeccable. Her skill in weaving the two into a story that will impact the reader is that of a master storyteller! Bravo!

    A couple of my favorite quotes:

    "God will give us the strength at the time we require it. Not a minute before."

    "Death is not the end...It's the freedom and light and promise. Its grace...Ours to accept of our own free will. Without Christ it is cold and dark and empty, but with Him.....death is beautiful. He transforms it."

    "Ultimately it wasn't about him. It was about submitting to the will of One greater than himself, seeking that will more than he sought anything else. Valued anything else. Even his own life."

    I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book from the author/publisher. I was not required to write a review. All opinions expressed are my own.

  • Kailey

    “Nein, Maria. Nothing is ever godforsaken. He is in everything ... In the giving and taking of life. In all of our moments, even this one.”

    It’s so hard to find the words to do this book justice. It’s such a wonderfully beautiful and haunting story of love and loss. Amanda Barratt did such a great job telling the love story of Dietrich and Maria. Their story came to life right on these pages. There was so much going on. It’s best to read this book slowly so you can savor each moment.

    “Nein, Maria. Nothing is ever godforsaken. He is in everything ... In the giving and taking of life. In all of our moments, even this one.”

    It’s so hard to find the words to do this book justice. It’s such a wonderfully beautiful and haunting story of love and loss. Amanda Barratt did such a great job telling the love story of Dietrich and Maria. Their story came to life right on these pages. There was so much going on. It’s best to read this book slowly so you can savor each moment. This book filled my heart and challenged me. I found myself asking if I could stand strong in my faith if it gets tested. I definitely recommend this book!

    I received a complimentary copy from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine alone.

  • Susan Snodgrass

    'It was what it all came down to in the end. He wanted to live, to see his parents and marry Maria, but ultimately it wasn't about him. It was about submitting to the will of One greater than himself, seeking that will more than he sought everything else. Valued anything else.'

    How in the world do you start to read a book you know is going to end in tragedy? I could not bear to start for a while because I knew what was going to happen. It was going to break my heart. I have long admir

    'It was what it all came down to in the end. He wanted to live, to see his parents and marry Maria, but ultimately it wasn't about him. It was about submitting to the will of One greater than himself, seeking that will more than he sought everything else. Valued anything else.'

    How in the world do you start to read a book you know is going to end in tragedy? I could not bear to start for a while because I knew what was going to happen. It was going to break my heart. I have long admired Dietrich Bonhoeffer. He was one of the greatest theologians of the last century and gave his life for Christ. Bonhoeffer refused, in the face of Nazism, to compromise the values of the Bible and of Christ to Hitler's evil machinations. And he paid with his life. He knew that was a distinct possibility, yet he forged on, knowing that he was following the right path.

    Amanda Barratt took on an admirable task when she made the decision to write about Bonhoeffer's life. And she gave us a deeper look at his life, concentrating on not only his incredible faith and bravery, but his love for his fiancé, Maria von Wedemeyer. The fiancé he would never be blessed to marry, but who he would carry in his heart all the way to the gallows. And Barratt writes this so well, so well indeed, that the reader's heart just weeps with what they know is to come. Her research is impeccable and she manages to convey such deep emotion that I nearly weep every time I just look at this book. Well done!

    And one quote from Bonhoeffer just stirs my soul: 'Whoever I am, Thou knowest, O God, I am Thine.' May we all have this view.

    *My thanks to the publisher for a copy of this book. The opinions stated here 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 ap

    “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!

  • Sarah Sundin

    Beautiful and inspiring! Amanda Barratt brings these two historical figures to life in truly lovely prose, and the description of life in Nazi Germany is well-researched and harrowing, highlighting the heartrending choices faced by people of conscience. If you’re already familiar with Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the novel will illuminate a soft side of this greater-than-life man. And if you aren’t, you’ll want to learn more. Either way, don’t miss it. This is a powerful novel, and I highly recommend it

    Beautiful and inspiring! Amanda Barratt brings these two historical figures to life in truly lovely prose, and the description of life in Nazi Germany is well-researched and harrowing, highlighting the heartrending choices faced by people of conscience. If you’re already familiar with Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the novel will illuminate a soft side of this greater-than-life man. And if you aren’t, you’ll want to learn more. Either way, don’t miss it. This is a powerful novel, and I highly recommend it.

  • 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.

  • Susie Finkbeiner

    Review to come. I'm too wrecked and amazed to write one now.

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