book cover of The Dutch Wife
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The Dutch Wife

(2018)
A novel by

 
 
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.

Genre: Historical

Praise for this book

"In The Dutch Wife, Ellen Keith illuminates an important but little known piece of history from World War II: the concentration camp brothels. Keith's portrayal of Marijke's courageous yet unfathomable choice is sensitive, graceful and unflinching - and in itself brave. Readers of The Nightingale will be rewarded by this original and unforgettable tale." - Pam Jenoff

"I'm so impressed by the ambition and bravery of this novel. It confronts the very central ethical concerns and questions about what it is to be human in the world today, what good and evil are, what can be forgiven and what cannot. Literature at its very best tasks itself with these questions, and The Dutch Wife places itself in that noble tradition." - Annabel Lyon


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