- Hardcover: 168 pages
- Publisher: MacLehose Press (27 Oct. 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0857050559
- ISBN-13: 978-0857050557
- Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 1.9 x 19 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,300,220 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Julia Hardcover – 27 Oct 2011
|New from||Used from|
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
'A masterpiece' Peter Henning, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung)
'An excellent storyline ... vivid descriptions and easy poetic language' Historical Novels Review. (Historical Novels Review)
'Extraordinary ... It is as chilling as it is sad and familiar' Irish Times. (Irish Times)
'Julia is a book that goes straight to the heart' Vrij Nederland. (Vrij Nederland)
About the Author
Otto de Kat is the pen name of a Dutch publisher. His prize-winning previous work is published in Holland, Germany and France.
Top Customer Reviews
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.
Still there must have been a fair amount of pain before getting this far.
The key to that pain is lying on the desk in front of him: a German newspaper from 1942 with a list of names on the front page circled in red. There is also has Dudok's diary, left on the backseat of the car the night before when he asked to be dropped off early so that he could walk the rest of the way home (this in itself might have been a warning sign from a man who would have been driven 'right into his study, had that been possible.') From this end point de Kat then goes back to tell Dudok's story in three different times. We go back to Lübeck, Germany in 1938 where Chris is sent by his father to gain some factory experience before taking over the family business back in Holland. He's sees the native fervour with an outsider's eye.
'The spirit of the times seized him by the throat. Crazed masses rallied on a whim, marching and parading with soldierly discipline, Lübeck thrumming with excitement for the leader's new teachings. There was no getting away from the man. He appeared not to be taken so seriously in Holland, as though his ravings were put through a strain at the border. But the artist from Vienna was crafty, in his opinion, barking mad, but very clever. The radio seemed invented expressly for him, forever blasting into people's sitting rooms. Nobody thought to switch him off.Read more ›
The theme isn't new: Dutch boy falls for German girl on the wrong side of the Nazis and regrets what happened. But it isn't yet another Holocaust tale (please, we want to keep the subject alive but it is just too easy for novelists) and you don't feel as if it is a historical fiction author just doing time again...it is sparse and real with the detail added, correctly, as an aside.
Just a joy to read. Effortless.
This is elegant. It also moves us. Even if we know what's going to happen from the start. The ONLY reason I don't give 5 stars is because a) going back and forth got confusing and its too easy as a plot device b) it was short and so plot was also short on the ground.
I'd read any of his books again. Please: publishers take note. This is what we want more of.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Their ultimatel destinies leave Dudok with a 'perennially supressed, deeply buried sense of yearning.'...
I found this rather a forgettable novel, despite the subject matter.
We feel the hand of another Rilke, Rainer Marie, whose poetry and images suffuse Julia. The novel concerns a reluctant Dutch industrialist, Chris Dudok, who returns to his homeland after a year working in Lubeck where he has encountered and fallen in love with Julia Bender, an engineer and colleague. He returns to the Netherlands to avoid danger but, most pointedly, at the urging of Julia. She saves him by insisting that he will endanger her if he remains in Germany. She stays to oppose the Nazis and in the hope of assisting her brother, Andreas, who is sent to a concentration camp for political activities. Ultimately, Dudok loses Julia to the war and his timidity, "the impotence of the self-respecting bourgeoisie" (though De Kat uses this phrase not to describe Dudok but rather the German middle classes under Hitler).
We first encounter Dudok dead, on the day of his suicide, following a lifetime of yearning and regret. The story is a sort of remembrance told on the evening and morning of his suicide: in other words, a reflection on his life as he contemplates death. De Kat borrows images from Rilke's poem, Autumn Day (the wind, the sundial, the leaves). Julia is carrying The Book of Images, the collection in which Autumn Day appears, when they meet in a cafe shortly before their separation. Although De Kat includes this nod to RM Rilke early in the book, the poem has more weight as a fragment that Dudok pens at the moment of his expiration: "Whoever has no house now will never build one, whoever is alone now will remain so for a long time." How do we read this? I am inclined to see it as a plea for courage of many kinds; the courage to live a life worth living and to grasp love firmly and never release it. This interpretation is tempered by the inherent uncertainty about the path not taken. Consider the central character in "Man on the Move"; he did not take the safe path and yet was crushed by events. Julia is a "must read" unless you cannot bear to contemplate how your decisions have shaped your life.