Amsterdam, May 1943. As the tulips bloom and the Nazis tighten their grip across the city, the last signs of Dutch resistance are being swept away. Marijke de Graaf and her husband are arrested and deported to different concentration camps in Germany. Marijke is given a terrible choice: to suffer a slow death in the labour camp or—for a chance at survival—to join the camp brothel.
On the other side of the barbed wire, SS officer Karl Müller arrives at the camp hoping to live up to his father’s expectations of wartime glory. But faced with a brutal routine of overseeing executions and punishments, he longs for an escape. When he encounters the newly arrived Marijke, this meeting changes their lives forever.
Woven into the narrative across space and time is Luciano Wagner’s ordeal in 1977 Buenos Aires, during the heat of the Argentine Dirty War. In his struggle to endure military captivity, he searches for ways to resist from a prison cell he may never leave.
From the Netherlands to Germany to Argentina, The Dutch Wife braids together the stories of three individuals who share a dark secret and are entangled in two of the most oppressive reigns of terror in modern history. This is a novel about the blurred lines between love and lust, abuse and resistance, and right and wrong, as well as the capacity for ordinary people to persevere and do the unthinkable in extraordinary circumstances.
Marijke and her husband are political prisoners of the Third Reich. Marijke stays alive by becoming one of the many women in the camp brothel. This is where she encounters Karl Müller, an SS officer. He falls in love with this Dutch beauty. This could ultimately be the death of her.
There is another story line weaving through this novel. Luciano has been kidnapped by the Argentine Army. He struggles to maintain his sanity and his strength while being tortured and starved. The reason for this tragedy is not revealed to the reader till the very end of this tale.
This story is hard to read in places. It is difficult to read about man’s inhumanity to man! When Marijke becomes a lady in the brothel, I cringed. I can’t imagine going through what these people went through to survive. Then there is Luciano’s hardship. It is along the same line and is definitely cringe worthy. But, the whole time I am wondering what the devil this has to do with Marijke? Why is this even part of this book? I figured it out before the author let me in on the why…it is a big WHY!
I wish the characters were a little more well-rounded. They seem a little detached and unfeeling. And this is a novel which gives you all the feels. The horrors, the torture, the relief when it is all over create a fantastic story. One not soon forgotten.
I received this novel from Netgalley for a honest review.