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At the Wolf's Table

A Novel
Narrated by: Polly Stone
Length: 10 hrs and 35 mins
Categories: Fiction, Historical
4 out of 5 stars (4 ratings)

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Summary

A provocative and moving historical audiobook based on the true story of a young woman who moved to a village near the Wolf's Lair, Hitler's secret headquarters, and became one of his food tasters. 

Germany, 1943. Twenty-six-year-old Rosa Sauer’s parents are gone, and her husband, Gregor, is far away, fighting on the front lines of WWII. Alone, she has little choice but to leave war-torn Berlin behind and live with her in-laws in a village near the Wolfschanze, the Wolf’s Lair, Hitler’s hidden headquarters. Convinced the enemy wants to poison him, Hitler conscripts 10 women, including Rosa, to be his food tasters. Even though food is a luxury, eating the decadent feasts Hitler will soon be served is an act of torture - after each meal, the women must wait an hour to see if they will die. 

Every minute seems like an eternity. None of the women are allowed to meet Hitler, none can enter the Wolfschanze, but the führer is a constant presence. He is in every conversation, in Rosa's thoughts, and forever on the radio. He looms large above them all, like some kind of deity. 

As the war outside goes from bad to worse, so do the lives of the 10 women trapped in the tasting room, forced to eat what may kill them. Rosa's friends are keeping explosive secrets, the vindictive SS officer put in charge of the tasters takes a special liking to her, and Rosa must figure out how she can stay alive as it becomes clear she and her friends, her Hitler, everyone she knows, are on the wrong side of history.

©2018, 2019 Text copyright Rosella Postorino, translation copyright Leah Janeczko (P)2019 Macmillan Audio

Critic reviews

"Narrator Polly Stone gives us a believable depiction of Rosa Sauer...The story is compelling, and the performance memorable." (AudioFile Magazine)

"[Postorino's] ability to beautifully convey feelings of guilt, shame, love, and remorse in a single gesture is a sign that we will be hearing more from her." (New York Times Book Review)

What members say

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Polly Stone

Having being infatuated with The Nightingale and that genre I started this book with a tad of disappointment but as the story progressed it's depth did appear and I started to enjoy the story Brilliant audio

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Disappointing - never quite takes flight

I'd been looking forward to this book coming out as the premise interests me - another view on the Nazi machine. But this book, doesn't really get past it's premise.

Possibly my expectations were too high (I'd imagined some Hans Fallada, Nightmare in Berlin expose) - this had moments of being extremely evocative, particularly the first moments describing the food tasting. And then the rest of the background was never truly filled out. Characters acted without real volition and there were gaps that didn't make a lot of sense (without spoiling much, how did she get off that train?)

The most annoying part was that the narrator had a very strange accent. I know this is an Italian author writing about Prussian, Germany - but for some reason the narrator chose an odd mix of both accents. Her name is polly stone, which implies a native english speaker, so this odd half italian/half german/completely odd accent is presumably intended to add to the story - it was instead extremely distracting.

The book wasn't awful - just rather meh. Read Fallada instead. That's riveting and terrifying on how brutalised a population can be whilst still just about functioning.

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  • Heather
  • 26-03-19

Fascinating - I loved this!

So I read some of the other reviews and I think I get why people didn't like this as much as I did. There's no redemption arc for the main character. She basically just lives her life and she does what she does for survival. Period. But I think that's what I loved about it so much. This isn't a story that's going to justify the actions of her (or the other tasters) during WWII or give her a happy ending because I think that would defeat what the author is trying to convey. She's this ambiguous character the whole way through because she ISN'T a great hero. But she also isn't a full-tilt villain with malice in her heart or anything. She's just a real person.

So real, in fact, that I had to keep checking to see if this was a memoir. While it is based on real events and there's a woman who had a life VERY similar to Rosa's, I can see where the author took creative liberties.

All in all, I enjoyed this story. I loved the narrator's accent and appreciated hearing about an aspect of WWII that was less known and explored.

On the topic of exploration, I really wish Rosa's and Alfreida's relationship had been developed more. I felt like there was potential for a lesbian relationship or at the very least a much more satisfying friendship between the two. The way the ending happens leaves you in such a state of "what the heck!" and never gives you any resolution for a relationship that made up a large part of the book and Rosa's character.

I also agree that the ending felt rushed and left you unsatisfied. We go from a very linear story line to a very cut-scene type of writing. That being said, that final scene in the cafeteria is beautiful in its subtlety. The experience with the green beans where she's looking around before biting makes your gut twinge. It's that final note of trauma right at the end.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Lu Worrell
  • 08-02-19

Not my favorite

I enjoyed the story as I do all world war 2 books but it was boring and the narrator was monotonous.

3 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Schmoopyslove
  • 01-02-19

Sadness on a platter!

Sure war is sad. But this is a story with no smiles, no comrades, no friendships, no hope.
The main character never learns her lessons in life.
She goes from one scene to another with baggage, infidelity and no gratitude for anyone or anything. She makes mistakes but never learns
Where she could have become a person that could see joy in a flower, she doesn’t take the time to do so. Many people suffered much much worse than she did. Yet she walks through life, even after the war, alone by choice. I got tired of waiting for her to stop feeling sorry for herself.
She chose to keep her feelings to herself, chose to be closed off emotionally when she had every opportunity to be open and let the world in.
Even when life could have been good after the war, she would not reach out to those who were reaching out to her.
I felt nothing for her but pity. Such a miserable life and make no mistake about it, it was her undoing herself.
Such a waste. I could never be proud of this woman. If I knew her in person I could never befriend her.
There are glimpses in the story of what other people thought of her. And by the end you realize those people’s opinions were accurate. She was self serving , selfish, always thinking about herself. Yuck.

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Cheri Skomra
  • 18-01-20

Realistic portrayal

This book shows that German's also suffered under Hitlers region including many of the soldiers including those in the SS who couldn't bear the attrocities Hitler demanded. the reader makes Rosa come to life. this is an excellent book.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • mary
  • 14-11-19

Beautifully written and read.

Outstanding. A memorable story. Beautifully written and read. I am so glad I bought this novel.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • shopper
  • 12-11-19

LOVED IT!

Just loved this story. Well written, intelligent, intense and thoroughly entertaining. Wonderful narration. Highly recommend.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Jo Page
  • 11-09-19

Based on a True Story and Well Worth Knowing

The fact that this was based on an actual woman wasn't clear to me until I did a little internet probing. And that makes the story even more resonant than it would have been otherwise--and it still would have been compelling, as well as well-written.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • GreenEyes
  • 22-06-19

What happened? The wolf’s table is where some are eaten and some taste.

What happened between part two and part three? I’m going through a hard time but apparently I’m worse off than I knew. Overall a good book. I’m having nightmares about it. It has an effect on this reader. I guess that does make it a good book. I feel as though I missed a large segment. I didn’t. I read it all...or listened. I seldom have a book bother me as this one did.

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Chuck Harland
  • 26-05-19

Like a Bad Taste in the Back of Hitler's Mouth

A well performed read of an unfortunate tale about a German woman who has several opportunities to speak up, but stays silent. The book's poses an interesting premise of Hitler's taste-testers, but instead leads the listener/reader down a fractured love story between an self-centered narrator and a Nazi f*** boi. Enjoy hypothetical daydreams of heroic scenarios that would make for a more interesting read, only to be devastated by the realities of cowardice and fear. It only takes a taste of a few chapters before the listener/reader can discern whether this book is worth the price of Hitler's safety.

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  • Jennifer
  • 07-03-19

wonderful.

narrator was hard at first but she turned out to be perfection for the story. I got lost a bit at the end and felt a rush to the finish line. it was a different style than the whole book had been but overall it was a great read and I was just engulfed by the story and the historical aspect to it made me more curious about them, their lives, that time, Hitler, the people during the war, the times around the war and to be honest it has sparked some interesting conversations. wonderful.