When fifteen-year-old Minke van Aisma travels to Amsterdam to care for the dying wife of an older, wealthy man named Sander DeVries, she has no idea what awaits her. Within hours of his wife’s death, Sander proposes marriage, and within days the couple sets sail for the burgeoning oil fields of Argentina.
But the future that seemed so bright takes a dark turn the morning their son, Zef, is kidnapped. Dire circumstances dictate that Sander immigrate to New York at once, leaving Minke little choice but to wait for their new baby’s arrival, follow Sander to America, and abandon her firstborn.
What follows is a triumphant turn-of-the-century saga of love, betrayal, and redemption that takes readers from the opulent life in Amsterdam during the 1900s to rough life on the Argentine coast to the impoverished life of a recent immigrant in New York.
An indelible portrait of one woman’s struggle to steer her own fate, A Young Wife is a powerful journey that will stay with readers long past the final page.
In her third novel, loosely based on the life of her grandmother, Lewis (Perfect Family) delivers an exuberant protagonist whose adventures begin when she immigrates to Argentina in 1912. When 15-year-old Minke van Aisma leaves her small Netherlands village to care for the dying wife of well-to-do businessman Sander DeVries in Amsterdam, she does not expect a marriage proposal, but when his wife dies, that's exactly what she gets. Sander asks Minke to be his wife and go with him to Comodoro Rivadavia, an oil boomtown in Argentina. On the long sea voyage Minke discovers her inner strength and sense of adventure, and she grows close with Sander's longtime friend Cassian, a steerage boy named Pieps, and a Dutch couple also hoping to get rich quick. This group makes up Minke's world in Comodoro Rivadavia, a lawless town full of men and booze. Within her first year there, Minke has a baby boy and becomes pregnant again, learns to ride a horse and speak Spanish, and discovers that her husband is far from perfect. An attack on Cassian and the kidnapping of Minke's son set in motion life-altering events as Minke moves to New York and deals with such problems as infidelity, drugs, and gambling. Despite anachronisms in the voice, the unexpected twists in Minke's story and her feisty appeal will keep readers eager to turn the page.