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Well, that was intense.
Ellen Keith’s WWII novel The Dutch Wife is a dramatic multi-point of view story about a Dutch woman taken to a Nazi concentration camp brothel and the Nazi who falls for her. The third POV is an Argentinian protestor who is held captive in the 1970s. The connection between the three characters isn’t immediately clear but gradually revealed like a slowly-drawn curtain.
Something that struck me as I listened to the audiobook was how fast it begins. Keith wastes no words plunging the reader into the misery of the events, so much so that I thought I was hearing one of those “skip ahead” prologues and not the first chapter. The reader learns about the characters while watching them act and react, rather than doing a sleepy, formal character introduction first. I loved it. For this novel, it was especially effective.
Keith’s details of the camp, the brothel, the unbalanced relationships and the mysterious Buenas Aires prison are dark, troubling and left me uncomfortable—and I mean that in the best way. This book will definitely not leave you feeling happy or light but it’s one hell of a journey.
Hard to put down, despite the darkness of it, The Dutch Wife by Ellen Keith is a must-read for fans of WWII historical fiction.
RATING: 5/5 stars