*If you are new here, WELCOME! For Code Name Edelweiss, I provide your book club with a brief summary, food ideas and a recipe, and discussion questions in that order!
Code Name Edelweiss is Stephanie Landsem’s newest novel about the rise of Nazi influence in 1930s Hollywood and one man’s mission to curtail the efforts.
Based on true events, the novel follows Leon Lewis (the real man behind the fight against Hitler in Hollywood) and one of his fictionalized spies.
If you love WWII fiction, you’ll likely love this historical spy novel based on events that occurred on American soil (an unusual setting for WWII fiction!). The tie-in to old Hollywood is also fun and interesting!
Code Name Edelweiss is a novel chosen through Book Club Bites’ collaboration with The Best of Women’s Fiction podcast. Don’t forget to check out the fabulous Best of Women’s Fiction podcast where Stephanie Landsem discusses Code Name Edelweiss and more: HERE.
I’ve provided book club questions and delicious food ideas for Code Name Edelweiss and Stephanie Landsem has a special recipe for you! So if you are looking for book club ideas and more, keep reading!
Here’s a brief summary of Code Name Edelweiss:
From the publisher:
“What I am looking for―what I desperately need, Mrs. Weiss―is a spy.”
Adolf Hitler is still a distant rumble on the horizon, but a Jewish spymaster and his courageous spies uncover a storm of Nazi terror in their own backyard.
In the summer of 1933, a man named Adolf Hitler is the new and powerful anti-Semitic chancellor of Germany. But in Los Angeles, no-nonsense secretary Liesl Weiss has concerns much closer to home. The Great Depression is tightening its grip and Liesl is the sole supporter of two children, an opinionated mother, and a troubled brother.
Leon Lewis is a Jewish lawyer who has watched Adolf Hitler’s rise to power―and the increase in anti-Semitism in America―with growing alarm. He believes Nazi agents are working to seize control of Hollywood, the greatest propaganda machine the world has ever known. The trouble is, authorities scoff at his dire warnings.
When Liesl loses her job at MGM, her only choice is to work with Leon Lewis and the mysterious Agent Thirteen to spy on her friends and neighbors in her German American community. What Leon Lewis and his spies find is more chilling―and more dangerous―than any of them suspected.
Code Name Edelweiss is based on a true story, unknown until recent years: How a lone Jewish lawyer and a handful of amateur spies discovered and foiled Adolf Hitler’s plan to take over Hollywood.
For Code Name Edelweiss Food Ideas:
Stephanie Landsem was kind enough to provide us with her grandmother’s recipe for German Brown Cake (or Old Fashioned Prune Cake) that she loves. Since the book examines German-American relationships, I think this a perfect pick.
If you love spice cake, then you’ll love this one. The cake is fluffy with a perfect crumb and easy to make (no bundt pan required!). The buttermilk icing is also smooth as velvet and delicious!
For more food ideas, keep reading to see the foods that inspired Stephanie Landsem while writing the novel!
Whether you choose something from this list or try your own option, I hope these ideas will get your creative juices flowing to host your book club for Code Name Edelweiss.
Code Name Edelweiss Book Club Recipe:
Old Fashioned Prune Cake (German Brown Cake)
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup white sugar
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- Pinch cloves
- 2 jars baby food prunes 6 – 8 ounces total
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 stick butter
- 1 tbsp corn syrup
- ¼ cup buttermilk
- Beat all cake ingredients together until smooth. Pour into a sheet pan with sides (about 26 by 18 inches) Bake at 350 degrees until center is set and toothpick test comes out clean – about 20 minutes.
- Optional: If you prefer, you can bake in a 9X13 pan for a thicker cake. Bake for 30-35 minutes, testing with a toothpick for doneness.
- While cake is baking, make the glaze. Stir all the ingredients together and heat to boiling. Boil 2 minutes.
- When the cake comes out of the oven, pour the hot glaze over it. Let cool before cutting into squares and serving.
More Fun from Stephanie Landsem:
Please insert a short description of your recipe and why it relates to your novel. Include any information you think readers would enjoy!
This is a cake that was passed down from my German Grandma Violet and is a favorite in our family. My adult children and their friends still beg me to to make it! Although the ingredient list seems rather ordinary, the combination of spices and prunes, along with the glaze, gives this cake a remarkable and surprising flavor and tender crumb. It’s a unique recipe that I’ve never seen in any cookbook or baking blog. (Sometimes, if I’m feeling guilty about the sugar, I use a half-recipe for the glaze. It’s still good, but not as sticky-sweet and wonderful as using all the glaze!)
One note: this can also be made in a standard 9 x 13 cake pan but will be thicker and take longer to bake. If you go this route, prick the cake with the tines of a fork after removing it from the oven, then pour on the glaze slowly to let it soak in.
If you would like to credit someone besides yourself for the recipe, please do so here.
Grandma Violet Wetzel
Good food and a good book go hand-in-hand. What is your favorite food to enjoy while reading?
I like to mix some popcorn with a few handfuls of peanut-butter M&Ms. My fingers stay relatively clean and so do the pages of the book!
Did you sample any interesting food while researching this book? Or experience anything exciting while researching?
Since Code Name Edelweiss is set in a German-American neighborhood in Los Angeles, the research reminded me of a lot of the German foods I’ve enjoyed as a child and when visiting Germany. Writing about Liesl made me crave wursts, schnitzel, good German bread, and apfelküchen! I also did a lot of research on recipes struggling families relied on during the Great Depression. One of them was called Hoover Stew and was basically macaroni, cut-up hot dogs, and whatever vegetables you had on hand. Filling and cheap was what many families needed during the difficult economic times of the 1930s.
Code Name Edelweiss Book Club Questions:
*WARNING: May contain spoilers!
These book club questions were kindly provided by the author and/or publisher. Please use only for your book club and do not reproduce them.
- Liesl believes her husband—who she thought was happy and loved her—has left her and their children. This makes her question everything in her life that she thought was true. Has anything like this happened to you, where an event shattered your trust in yourself and what you believed?
- Liesl says early in the story, “If what was happening in Germany was true—and I wasn’t certain it was—of course I felt terrible for those people. The Jews.” Who are “those people” in your life? People you may have sympathy for but who are not “your” people and therefore not your problem? Has God ever called you to stand up for someone you think of as not your own, other,” or “them”? How did you respond?
- Liesl wonders, “How could children as young as Hildy Grundbacher already be poisoned by hate? Her mother and father had taught it to her and been taught the same by their own parents.” Are there biases or preconceptions you maybe have toward others because of the way you were raised? What are some ways parents can try to break the cycle of passing along inappropriate prejudices to their children?
- Wilhelm observes that people are mostly concerned with their own problems and often don’t see the injustices happening around them—or don’t know what to do about them. How can we discern when God is calling us to step outside our own lives and address larger problems in the world with our specific gifts?
- 5.) All that is needed for evil to flourish is for good men to do nothing” is an oftquoted statement. We frequently equate it with the evils of Hitler and the horrors of WWII, but it can also be applied to our everyday life. Where in our day-to-day do we see this played out? What part can we play in either letting evil flourish or standing against it?
For more book club questions and the entire book club kit from the publisher, click HERE!
Find Stephanie Landsem:
Stephanie can be found online!
Have you read Code Name Edelweiss ? What did you think? Did it satisfy you or were you left wishing for more? What are some similar books you’ve read?
Until next time, Happy Reading!
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