The Dutch Wife, by Ellen Keith


This book was lent to my by a client… just another reminder about how amazing it is to be surrounded by bookish people. This person also shares a love of great stories, and good writing… so I trusted that this book would be worth reading. THEN, a couple days later, my Dad had told me he had recently read a great book… when I asked him what was it, after a couple minutes of pondering, he said… The Dutch Wife. Two trusted book opinions later, I picked this book up ASAP.

The Dutch Wife is a historical fiction, dual timeline novel based around three different perspectives from the experience of WW2. You have first introduced to Marijke, who with her husband Theo, lived in Amsterdam and were convicted of some illegal activity by the Germans. They were both arrested and shipped off to different concentration camps as political prisoners. When the beautiful Marijke is noticed by the guards, she is selected to work in the brothels that serve the prisoners. Caught between the need to survive, and the morality of her situation, she meets Karl MΓΌller. Karl is a high up German officer, who falls in love with Marijke. The other timeline is Luciano’s story, a young man, who is in Argentina in the ’70’s and being held captive and being tortured. Slowly as these stories are being told, you realize how intertwined they are and you are rushing through this story to see what will happen.

Father, you once said that nobody in this world is truly evil, that it’s all a matter ofΒ circumstance. I wonder if you tell yourself that so you don’t have to come to terms with what happened in your own country.

I LOVED this book. It was a perfect historical fiction novel for me. With my dutch roots being satisfied, and also having such an interest in WW2, learning about this side of the war was extremely interesting, and equally upsetting. What the through line for historical fiction for me is that I found myself so fascinated with humans, and their willingness to survive. I fell in love Marijke’s character. I felt like she was such a conflicted woman who wanted nothing more than to survive and find her husband. Alternatively, I also loved Luciano. His story was heartbreaking for a whole other reason… which I won’t give away. But there are some words that he had written for his father that were just perfect. They made you understand just how deeply the mental effects of a trauma can be like a ripple in the pond, growing bigger and more complicated the further it gets away. So often we are told that time will heal things, and this part of the story just really made you challenge that old adage.

One more thing, this author is Canadian… just another reason why I loved this book. So enough of me gushing, just go read this one. You will love it!

Until next time, happy reading!



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