Postcards from No Man's Land

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9780099408628: Postcards from No Man's Land

What happens to Jacob Todd when he visits his grandfather's grave at the annual commemoration of the Battle of Arnhem is paralleled in time by the events of the dramatic day in World War Two when retreating troops were sheltered by the family of Geertrui Van Riet. Geertrui, now an old lady, reveals secrets to Jacob in contemporary Amsterdam which completely overturn his view of himself and his country, and lead him to question his very place in the world.

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Review:

Two craftily interwoven stories, separated by 50 years in time, make upthis emotionally and intellectually challenging novel. Set in Holland, one story tells of the passionate love between a young Dutch woman and Jacob Todd, a wounded English soldier: "I filled the glass and gave it to the soldier who had not yet spoken, who now said, 'Thanks, miss, you're an angel of mercy.' He had eyes that made me melt."

The other story finds the English soldier's grandson visiting Amsterdam for the commemoration of The Battle of Arnhem. Before he knows it, he's way out of his emotional depth: "His arrival yesterday had been embarrassing. His visit to the Anne Frank house had been upsetting. His confusion of boy for girl unnerved him. The mugging had left him duff." The learning curve is steep and readers can't help becoming thoroughly engrossed in the powerful emotions as well as being confronted with questions which simply don't have easy answers. This is a riveting, thought-provoking and thoroughly worthwhile read. (12 years and over). --Tamsin Palmer

Review:

"Superbly crafted, intensely moving." --"Sunday Telegraph"

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