Book Review: A Mother’s War by Helen Parusel

I am so pleased to be welcoming Helen Parusel to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for her novel, A Mother’s War.

A forbidden romance in occupied Norway…

Narvik, 1940. After Laila awakens to the sight of warships in the fjord, it isn’t long before she turns resistor to the brutal Nazi regime. She is horrified when local girls begin affairs with enemy soldiers, yet against her own principles, she finds herself falling in love with German soldier, Josef.

Josef is not like the others. He becomes involved in helping her and the locals with resistance activities, risking his life on more than one occasion.

But then Laila finds out she is pregnant. With Josef sent to the Russian front, and Laila cast out by her family, she turns to a home for women which promises to care for her and her unborn child. But instead, she finds herself caught in a system of evil far beyond what she thought possible…


Laila has watched her hometown of Narvik in Norway fall under German occupation. As the locals adjust to the new rules, Laila meets Josef, a German solider. He seems different to the others, but she’s determined not to get close to him. Instead, she wants to do what she can for the resistance.

However, she is pulled to Josef and soon they are in love but with what consequences?

This novel. Wow.

I knew this book was going to tackle some hard themes and I feel this is done well. The subject matter is an aspect of the war I knew nothing about and it’s heart-breaking.

Laila is a character that grows from a naive teenager to a strong, resilient woman who wants to be with her baby.

The supporting characters are a mix where some are likeable and others not so much.

The author does well to show many aspects of the war. For example, how Josef is a man who is a long way from home and doesn’t agree with why he is there or what his country is starting to stand for.

I was so engrossed in this novel, I pretty much read it in one sitting. I wanted to know the fate of these characters.

This debut is a compelling, hard hitting, emotional rollercoaster of a book. Despite having finished it, I’m still thinking about it. If you’re a fan of historical fiction or looking for a book that really gets you thinking, this book is perfect.



About Helen Parusel–

I am from London but now live in Hamburg, Germany with my husband and daughter.

I gave English lessons to retired Germans for twenty years and became intrigued by many of their wartime stories.

My mother comes from Linz, Austria and I spent my summer holidays there for years which inspired my next novel. I have always loved reading and writing, and now finally have the time to devote to writing.

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A Mother’s War was released by Boldwood Books on 17th May 2023. Click to buy on Amazon UK and Waterstones


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I’m Laura. I started Novel Kicks in 2009. I wanted a place to post my writing as well as give other writers like me the opportunity to do the same. There is also a monthly book club, a writing room which features writing prompts, book reviews, competitions, author interviews and guest posts.

I grew up by the sea (my favourite place in the world) and I currently live in Hampshire. I am married to Chris, have a cat named Buddy and I would love to be a writer. I’m trying to write the novel I’ve talked so much about writing if only I could stop pressing delete. I’ve loved writing since creative writing classes in primary school. I have always wanted to see my teacher Miss Sayers again and thank her for the encouragement. When not trying to write the novel or writing snippets of stories on anything I can get my hands on, I love reading, dancing like a loon and singing to myself very badly. My current obsession is Once Upon a Time and I would be happy to live with magic in the enchanted forest surrounded by all those wonderful stories provided that world also included Harry Potter. I love reading chick lit. contemporary fiction and novels with mystery.

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