Friday, February 23, 2018

"The Taster" by V. S. Alexander

Summary: Magda Ritter, a young woman in Nazi Germany, goes looking for a job, and a well-connected uncle helps her get one of the most interesting (and dangerous) occupations ever, serving as a personal taster for Adolf Hitler, even though she's not a Nazi party member and is by no means sold on Nazi beliefs. And without spoiling some of the storylines in the book, let me just say that the teacup on the cover represents quite a few pivotal scenes in this book. I was surprised!

My thoughts: Oh, I hope some of you have read (or will read) The Taster, because I found it thoroughly fascinating. I can't exactly say I "enjoyed" it, because I have always been and forever will be so appalled by the monster that was Hitler, but this book gave me lots of food for thought. I can't recall ever before reading a novel in which Hitler was a character, so it was intriguing to view him through the eyes of a young German woman who gets a job of making sure his food hasn't been poisoned. In some scenes, Hitler is actually nice to the people (and animals) around him, and I found myself thinking, "Could that have been possible?" The author certainly made it seem so. Magda gets involved with an SS officer who, like her, is no fan of Hitler, and it soon becomes clear that not everyone in Hitler's orbit is enamored with him. Although we all know how the story turned out, I found myself lingering over one part of the book about a failed assassination attempt on Hitler and thinking, "Oh, if only …" The Holocaust is referred to only briefly—and somewhat obliquely—and that is perhaps the book's greatest weakness.

Also, while I usually love to learn about any famous tea houses in history, I was bothered to learn that Hitler enjoyed a tea house, simply because I'm sorry to know that he ever enjoyed anything. The fictional Hitler had a fondness for tea and loved his apple cake, two things that are apparently true of the real Hitler.

The judgment: I highly recommend this book for some enlightening reading and discussion. The well-written book is an easy read, but it also is thought-provoking for anyone who wonders whether fascism is alive and well today. I used to think that "nationalist" thinking died with Hitler, but then I watched those awful videos from last year's white nationalist rallies in Charlottesville and realized that, tragically, such evil thinking is still with us. The book was a sobering reminder of what happens when evil leaders and beliefs are blindly accepted by the masses.

For discussion: Did you learn some new things about Hitler from this book? Do you have difficulty imagining him treating people or animals well? What did you think about Hitler's tea house and tea parties?

Next Month's Book: Whew! This month's book had such a heavy theme, I need some lighter fare and can't wait to get the new Laura Childs book, Plum Tea Crazy, as our Tea Lovers Book Club read for March. See you "back in the book club" on March 30!


  1. I didn't read this one, in fact I may have missed the post last month where you mentioned it - my January was kind of crazy - but it does sound interesting, if not enjoyable. I am, however, looking forward to reading Plum Tea Crazy!

  2. Haven't read your book of the month his month, but did finish Darjeeling from the month before. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Now I would love to get my hands on this new Laura Child book.


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