Sep 28, 2015

Dutch Days: Book Reviews - The Angel Maker by Stefan Brijs & The Twins by Tessa de Loo

Reviews by Eline

When Suze asked me to write something for the Dutch Days, I immediately started thinking what I could do. Something YA related in Dutch should be possible, right? But the more I thought about it, the more I realized YA and Dutch don’t go together. At all. About 95% of Dutch YA books you find in the bookstore are in fact translations, either translated from English or German. I don’t think I’ve read more than five Dutch YA books in my entire life. So that is why I have decided to do something completely different. In this post I want to cast a spotlight on two novels that I absolutely adore, both for very different reasons. They have been translated into English, so who knows, maybe you’ll pick them up and love them as much as I did!

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The Angel Maker by Stefan Brijs

The Angel Maker is with ease one of the most intriguing and fascinating books I have ever read. It’s a story about a well-acclaimed doctor who moves back to the town where he grew up to start a small practice there. Needless to say, that is not all that is to it. With him, the doctor has three seemingly identical children. The children are kept inside, never to be seen by anybody, and the people of the town start talking. Who is this strange doctor really, and why did he give up a good career to come back here? Are these children his, and if so, who and where is their mother? And most of all, what is so incredibly wrong with them that the doctor can’t bear to let them go outside? 

The book is divided into three separate parts. The present, that shows the situation as it now is. The past, which slowly gives you more information. And then the present again, to tie it up in a way you simply can’t even imagine. This is one of the most clever endings of a book I have ever seen, and that says a lot. The characters are well-rounded and surprising, and the writing is beautiful. Most of all, though, this book makes you think. It searches for ethical boundaries, and goes beyond them. Even after finishing, this book simply wouldn’t leave me alone. I still think about it sometimes, and it has been a little under two years ago that I read this. Another added bonus is that it reads and feels like a YA, whilst it very much is a novel in its themes and language. It is the perfect marriage of the two, and I certainly would recommend it to young adult fans too.

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The Twins by Tessa de Loo

If you are only going to read one WWII novel in your entire life, make it this one. The Twins tells the story of Anna and Lotte, two young German girls who are twin sisters. Their mother has died, and when their father dies too, the family argues over who gets to take them in. Lotte, who is ill, goes home with the Dutch side of the family to get better, whereas Anna stays with German relatives. The two grow up separately and very differently. This difference is only increased when the second World War breaks out in their early twenties. There is a falling out between the two, and they don’t speak at all until they run into each other when they are both in their seventies at a spa treatment in Belgium. Lotte wants nothing to do with her estranged twin sister, but Anna won’t give up. Over many shared cups of coffee and pastries, Anna and Lotte tell their stories and prove once again how war comes between people.

If I’m being honest, I must say that I usually avoid books about the second World War. I find it depressing, and since I already know how it ends, I feel like I don’t have to read about all the cruelties in it. I made an exception for this book, and I am very glad that I did. Not only did it give insight into the way of life in the Netherlands, an occupied country, but also into the life of the average German. Even though it is very hard to morally justify this sympathy, you feel for Anna and her tough life. There is so much depth to this book, and the story progresses so naturally and beautifully. It feels as if a lot of research has been done before writing this novel, and it clearly shows. Despite not having read many others to compare with, The Twins is my favorite WWII novel. The movie adaptation is also one of the finest in its genre I have ever seen. The German characters actually speak German throughout the movie, and everything is so incredibly accurate and well done. It is a Dutch film, but if you can get it with English subtitles I would definitely recommend checking it out alongside the book. It is in my top ten favorite movies ever, after all.

Giveaway

24 comments:

  1. I like both books but if I had to choose, I would take "The Angel Maker" because it just sounds really interesting.

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  2. Both books sound very intriguing, but I'd rather read The Angel Maker and watch The Twins. Reading about it would be way more painful than watching it for me. And your review of The Angel Maker made me so interested in it that I'm sure I'll read it whether or not I win it now.

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    1. Ooh, good choice. The Twins movie is absolutely stunning, you should watch it for sure. And I'm so glad that you like the sound of The Angel Maker! Not many people have heard of it, not even in the Netherlands, so I love to raise some awareness for it! :D

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    2. I haven't read it either and bought it for myself immediately :).

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  3. THE ANGEL MAKER sounds intriguing!

    --Trix

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  4. maybe The Angel Maker- premise sounds interesting

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  5. The Angel Maker, because the cover looks so spooky :)

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  6. The Angel Maker sounds really interesting!

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  7. The Twins sounds amazing! Thanks for the chance, Suze!!

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  8. I think I want the Angel Maker but I am so torn. I have been reading books about the second WW so I want The Twins. But The Angel Maker has a great ending, as you say, and I'd love to read that. Oh...... so hard to choose.

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    1. The Angel Maker's ending. Woaaaaaaaah. It's not often that you read an ending like that, it was very special! :D

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  9. THE TWINS: I love stories set during WWII.

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  10. The Twins by Tessa de Loo because the story captures my impression.

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  11. They both sound so good but I think I would choose The Angel Maker. I like books of mystery and concerning the lives of "odd" people. It sound amazing! Thank-you. :)

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  12. Any, because I have`t read neither yet :)

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  13. It's tough because I've seen the Twin Sisters movie and liked it very much, but I think I'll go with Angel Maker because it's a new story and it sounds intriguing.

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  14. they both look good but would love to read the Angel Maker first xx

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  15. I would choose the Angel maker simply because I already have "The Twins" =)

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  16. The Angelmaker is very intriguing!

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  17. the angel making sounds sooooo interesting!

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  18. The Angel Maker as it sounds absolutely intriguing and I want to find out more and what happens in the end.

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  19. The Twins by Tessa de Loo sounds amazing - and I love books set in WW2.

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  20. abrennan09@hotmail.com
    Always looking for my next read - these look like good ones to curl up with.

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