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4.6 out of 5 stars
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4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 11 September 2011
I bought this book following a recommendation from a friend - and how right she was. I just could not put it down! The writer's in-depth research and family connection with the area of Friesland bring the locations and characters to life. I truly felt the emotions of the Van der Meer family as they struggled with the horrors of the German occupation of Holland during World War Two and was amazed by the sheer scale of courage demonstrated by them and other members of their community in helping those less fortunate than themselves. I recommend this book most highly, especially to those interested in this particular period of history.
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on 3 June 2012
I have thoroughly enjoyed reading this fantastic novel, which has opened my eyes to plenty that I did not know about the effects of WW2 upon the Dutch nation.

I previously had almost no sense of the appalling calamity which befell the Dutch people when the Nazis, without warning or provocation, invaded the Netherlands. I never knew about the awful bombing of Rotterdam, or the treacherous NSB faction within their own number, who terrorised their own countrymen, and the sheer scale of the deportation of the Jewish people from Holland had never really sunk into my conciousness. (Anne Frank almost seemed like a one-off instance - shame on me!) I have learned much as a result of reading this book, and I have also uncovered a desire to learn more about those times.

As for book's story, I have to say that I was entirely engrossed by the rapidly moving chain of events, which at times had my nerves painfully placed on a knife-edge by the constant threat of danger and the ghastly pain of the reality of life under a tyrannical occupation, and at other times soothed by the simple beauty of the Van der Meers and their ever hopeful, ever persevering friends and family. The characters are immensely real and I found that I was deeply attached to them and their fortunes throughout.

This book brings highs and lows which in contrast with each other are at times shocking at other times almost a taste of Heaven.

I highly recommend this marvellous novel. The next one is already on my Kindle - I can't wait to read it! Thank you Alan Clegg.
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on 2 October 2011
This book gives a great insight into the struggles and atrocities inflicted upon the people of The Netherlands. Before reading this book, I never realised the lengths to which the dutch resistance went to protect their friends and fellow countrymen.

The story of the Van de Meer family is heart wrenching and heartwarming at the same time. It shows the best and worst of mankind, side by side all the while thrilling the reader with pulse racing plotlines and twists and turns.

All in all a great read. I can't wait to read book number two.
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on 18 June 2012
This book entered my radar whilst searching available titles to fill my shiny new Kindle Touch, and I am so glad that it did!

I bought it initially because it was set in Holland during World War II, and covered events not often addressed - the invasion and subjugation of the Dutch people. I also have a personal interest in the subject as my Mother was born in Holland in 1926 and was a young girl when the German invasion took place and lived through the events so graphically described. She would have been about the same age as Aukje in the book. She spent the war living in Utrecht in the mid/north of Holland and, although she did not talk about her experiences very often, over the years I put together a picture of the extreme hardships, constant fear and deprivation everyone in Holland suffered during the occupation. Some storylines in the book rang all too true. She spoke about the constant hunger, in her case somewhat alleviated because she had family who farmed near Zwolle who she and her parents used to cycle to visit and where there was always some food to be shared. My one regret is that my Mother never got to read this book as she died 4 years aged 82. Maybe the memories it stirred up would have been too traumatic for her, but I am grateful to Alan Clegg for writing such an evocative and enthralling book of the conditions under which my Mother and the Dutch people suffered in wartime Holland, and the bravery of those who fought back in the resistance and others who could only endure and hope. With his skill and expertise I feel that I now have a better understanding of the early (untold) life of my beloved Mother, for which I will be eternally grateful. One final point, my parents met on the liberation, when my father (in the British Army Reconnaissance Corp) met my Mother as his unit entered Utrecht to a rapturous welcome. It was love at first sight!

I would recommend this book to all readers, whether or not they have a link to Holland. It is exciting and fast-paced from the beginning, and I could not put it down. I was delighted to find that it was part one of a trilogy and have now downloaded part two "Where Birds Don't Sing", and can't wait to start part three when it becomes available.
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on 4 October 2012
A gripping novel one finds difficult to put down. This book is clearly based on facts, and leaves one to suppose the author accessed, digested, and produced a seamless, well-written agglomeration of 'true' stories.
The book is a regreshingly 'natural' read, telling of of simple, run-of-the-mill people, caught-up in the greatest man-made disaster of our times.
It underpins a story that must never be forgotten. Set in a province of the Nederlands, it paints a wonderful scene of rustic folks in an era that (like James Herriot's Yorkshire)has been sumbmerged by 'progress'.
The scenery has not been 'rendered': it is really there, to be seen, now: if you care to visit.
All-in-all demanding of 5-stars; a thoroughly worth-while purchase. I recommend it, and look forward to more of this author's work.
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VINE VOICEon 7 April 2013
Having family connections with the Netherlands, and having visited many of the places mentioned in this book, I desperately wanted to like it. However, it was so badly written that I could not. The characters are all one dimensional and wooden, and the language is the most cliche-ridden I have ever come across. The general historical and geographical framework may be accurate, but the details are unbelievable. The story centres around a Frank van de Meer and his family who are too good to be true. It follows their exploits and experiences from just before the German invasion of the Netherlands until after its liberation by allied forces in 1945. Our hero manages, Forest Gump-like, to be present at just about every significant place and event in the country throughout those years. This is very unconvincing. I am surprised at the number of positive reviews the book has garnered. I feel that two stars may be a little generous, but my wife enjoyed it, so maybe I'm just an old curmudgeon.
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on 4 September 2013
This book tells of the invasion of the Netherlands from the view of the ordinary people who suffered it. It is a subject I knew nothing about and being able to read about it from the prospective of those ordinary civilians made the 5 years of invasion seem very real. I really enjoyed the book and learned a lot from it about the reality of that war. Some of the characters, one or two of the Nazis for example, were a bit one-dimensional and here and there the tone verged on the sentimental but it did not detract from the overall sense of the characters being well-drawn and of being an engaging read. I look forward to reading the two other books of the trilogy. A criticism would be with the editing: there were several typos and unevenly spaced sentences and paragraphs.
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on 29 September 2014
Excellent fast paced read, great story if a little simplistic. You feel the torture of the Dutch people, the murders, the starvation the degradation but also the hope, and genuine bravery of most of them. That the Dutch managed to save as many of their Jewish compatriots is nothing short of amazing. I read this book over two days and loved it, can recommend!
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on 18 April 2014
I enjoyed this book very much. At first the story seemed to skip from one scene to another one but afterwards I realised why it was like this. Some of the scenes presented were very harrowing but I understand that this was necessary. Once again I realise what a dreadful time the poor Jews and other races were put through. The arrogance of the leaders and guards was absolutely appalling.
Realising that this is so true to history I am so pleased that I have read it and thank you for the opportunity.
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on 17 February 2013
I have read many books on this subject but not in the form of a novel.
This is a superb thriller based on factual experiences by the Dutch
people and the Jewish community under the Nazi jackboot.
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