“ A depiction of the horrors of the second world war. . . World War II has been the subject of more scholarly monographs and works of literature than readers could ever consume in a lifetime. In her debut effort, however, van Houten effectively plumbs the war’s meaning from a more personal perch. She pieces together letters between her mother and father, along with their diary entries, which were written while the conflict separated them…. The author’s running commentary helpfully provides historical context, but she always allows the letters themselves to take center stage in the narrative . . . As a result, this is both an informative and an affecting tale … A testament to the human spirit of perseverance in the face of danger and dislocation.”
Papa's War: From the London Blitz to the Liberation of Holland
THERESE VAN HOUTEN, author
It’s September 1939 and England has declared war on Germany. Jan van Houten, a Dutch journalist, living and working in London, bids farewell to his wife Marie when she and their infant daughter are evacuated to the countryside. Jan and Marie write each other daily during this and subsequent separations: in 1940, during the 9-month-long London Blitz, and again in 1944 when Jan, now a member of the Dutch government-in-exile, travels to war-torn Holland. Jan’s letters provide an eyewitness account of the bombing of London, and, later, of the gradual liberation of The Netherlands. Anchored by the couple’s letters, the narrative --written by their daughter Thérèse-- provides a historical overview of the resilience of the British, and the suffering and courage of the Dutch during World War II.