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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Elegant and Elegiac
This emotive story begins on a hot August afternoon in the 1980s, when the body of Christaan Dudok, a Dutch businessman is found in his study after taking an overdose that has ended his life. There is no suicide note, but next to him is found a newspaper from 1942 which carries a report on the bombing of the German town of Lubeck and with it a list of names, one of which,...
Published 18 months ago by Susie B

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars 'Death by his own hand. "Painless." Still, there must have been a fair amount of pain before getting this far.'
The novel opens with a chauffeur finding the body of his elderly boss next to a bottle of pills and a 1942 newspaper. The succeeding chapters move between Dudok as a young man,working in Lubeck in the late thirties, and his last day on earth now. As Germany teeters on the brink of war, Dudok meets the love of his life, Julia, a spirited young woman who refuses to be swept...
Published 12 months ago by sally tarbox


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Elegant and Elegiac, 23 Dec. 2013
By 
Susie B - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Julia (Paperback)
This emotive story begins on a hot August afternoon in the 1980s, when the body of Christaan Dudok, a Dutch businessman is found in his study after taking an overdose that has ended his life. There is no suicide note, but next to him is found a newspaper from 1942 which carries a report on the bombing of the German town of Lubeck and with it a list of names, one of which, has been highlighted.

We then move back in time and the story is told from the perspective of Christaan, who when young and working in Lubeck in 1938, meets and falls in love with the beautiful Julia Bender, a talented German engineer. From the first moment he sees her, he is irresistibly drawn to her and somehow knows that their meeting will hold great significance for him. Both Julia and her actor brother, Andreas, are talented, courageous and value their freedom, but, when Andreas flouts the authority of the Nazi regime and Julia supports him, Christaan realizes that their days together are numbered. When the authorities arrest Andreas, and Julia just manages to escape, she tells Christaan that he must leave her and return to Holland otherwise he will jeopardise her safety and his own. Although Christiaan fears he is making a mistake in leaving, he listens to Julia's pleas and allows her to persuade him to catch the next train out of Germany and return to his homeland.

This beautifully written novel moves forwards and backwards in time and, in spare, impressionistic and poetic prose the author relates what happens to Christaan after he leaves Julia. As time passes, and we follow Christaan through his life, we come to see that he simply cannot forget Julia and how his love for her lives on. This is an elegant and elegiac novel that shows us that it is not always what we do that causes us regret, but what we fail to do that can cause us even more sorrow and remorse.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A miniature masterpiece, 8 Sept. 2013
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This review is from: Julia (Paperback)
I had never heard of this author, prior to reading a tiny review in a Sunday newspaper. But I thank my lucky stars that I was led to this book, which is a delightful and deeply touching piece of writing. There are times when the prose soars into the realms of pure poetry. A very short novel, its brevity and simplicity conceal the power of its emotional impact. One of the most affecting love stories I have ever read, it touches on the deepest predicaments of passion, loss and and guilt. A word is not wasted in painting a touching picture of a doomed relationship which ignites against the backdrop of Nazi Germany and continues to reverberate through the decades that follow. A masterful and realistic account of what it is to be a man forever scarred by lost love.
I have recommended this book to a number of friends and am so enthusiastic about it that I wanted to do the same to Amazon readers. I am amazed that this is the first review of Julia that has been posted here but feel quite privileged to be the one to do it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, 19 Mar. 2014
By 
Sofia (Bristol, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Julia (Paperback)
Otto de Kat's "Julia" begins with a driver, Van Dijk, turning up unexpectedly at his boss's house ostensibly to check out the car. He can't find his boss, Christiaan Dudok, so he looks around the house for him. What follows next is a perfectly constructed almost poetic little story of love and loss in the midst of Nazi Germany.

This is such an engaging little book, right from the first chapter, that it's hard to put down. Dudok's story is the everyman story, that poses questions about what to do in extraordinary times and that weighs the cost of regret. It is a book about love, but also about responsibility, courage and cowardice, fate and fatalism. It's a brilliant little read, one that I can't recommend enough and I for one will be looking up de Kat's other work.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars 'Death by his own hand. "Painless." Still, there must have been a fair amount of pain before getting this far.', 30 Jun. 2014
By 
sally tarbox (aylesbury bucks uk) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Julia (Paperback)
The novel opens with a chauffeur finding the body of his elderly boss next to a bottle of pills and a 1942 newspaper. The succeeding chapters move between Dudok as a young man,working in Lubeck in the late thirties, and his last day on earth now. As Germany teeters on the brink of war, Dudok meets the love of his life, Julia, a spirited young woman who refuses to be swept along with the herd mentality that embraces Nazism.
Their ultimate destinies leave Dudok with a 'perennially supressed, deeply buried sense of yearning.'...
I found this rather a forgettable novel, despite the subject matter.
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3.0 out of 5 stars A missed opportunity for greatness, 14 Dec. 2014
By 
Ms. A. Brooke "Anne Brooke" (Godalming, Surrey) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Julia (Paperback)
The first chapter of this novella was utterly brilliant – I loved the chauffeur, Van Dijk, and his discovery of and reaction to his dead boss. I thought he was a wonderful character and was instantly gripped by his voice and story.

It’s a shame then that from the second chapter onwards and for almost the rest of the book, we are given instead the story of Chris, the dead boss, and the events both in the war and leading up to his death. I’m sorry to say that Chris was a very irritating character and one of the most indecisive and weak literary men I’ve ever had the displeasure of meeting. This may be in part due to the fact that a large portion of his story is told to us rather than being shown to us, so I felt very disengaged indeed from what is happening to him. How I longed to return to that first chapter.

I also didn’t believe in Chris’s deep and abiding love for Julia, the woman he loses in the war. Indeed, Julia, like Chris, also tells us a great deal of things and becomes very quickly wearisome as a character. Really, the two of them deserved each other, but were of little interest to me as a reader. That said, the prose is very nice, but this factor is nowhere near enough to make a book sing. And Chris takes far too long in getting (at last!) to the moment of death, alas …

So it was with great relief that the final chapter brings us back to that wonderful chauffeur once more, and the ending is very powerful indeed. Van Dijk very much deserves his own book and is wasted in this one.

3 stars: a missed opportunity for a great character who is forced to remain on the sidelines
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Julia
Julia by Otto de Kat (Paperback - 3 Jan. 2013)
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