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The Beast’s Garden

The Beast’s Garden by Kate Forsyth is a meticulously researched historical fiction set in Germany during the rise and to the final days of the Third Reich. The protagonist for the novel is Ava, a German singer of gypsy heritage and daughter of a prominent Berlin academic and psychiatrist. Ava’s life-long and closest friends are siblings Rupert and Jutta from a Jewish family. Beginning in the underground scene of the gypsy jazz movement, Ava, her circle of friends and her family are increasingly constricted by the growing political and social conservatism of the Third Reich. Through the developing intrigues and resistance movements against the Third Reich, Ava finds herself in a desperate situation and an unlikely ally in Leo, one of Hitler’s intelligence officers. In desperation to save herself and her father, Ava marries Leo for the political protection he can grant her. Yet Ava mistrusts her husband and his secrecy. Unwittingly, Ava’s one involvement in the underground resistance movements planning to assassinate Hitler, Ava accidentally brings about Leo’s own incrimination in plans by Hitler’s Secret Intelligence Office to assassinate him.Leo flees Berlin but is soon captured and Ava finds herself without Leo’s presence and protection, struggling to survive in Berlin during air raids and growing deprivation. Determined to try to find Leo, Ava and Jutta escape Berlin. Ava intends to save Leo from execution and Jutta hopes to find Rupert, long-since taken prisoner to Birkenau concentration camp. As the Third Reich falls, prisoners of extermination camps are left to die or escape and among these desperate escapees is Rupert who is soon reunited with his sister Jutta. Ava rescues and is reunited with Leo, bearing the physical and psychological scars for betraying the Third Reich.
The Beast’s Garden is a tale of resilience, love and determination in the face of war. The title is taken from the Brothers Grimm folk tale, the iconic Beauty and the Beast, which the characters of Ava and Leo are clearly connected to the original Grimm tale ‘The Singing, Springing Lark’.