A sweeping story of survival during World War II
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 labor camp or—for a chance at survival—to join the camp brothel.
On the other side of the barbed wire, SS officer Karl MŸller arrives at the camp hoping to live up to his father’s expectations of wartime glory. 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.
Keith's lackluster debut tells the stories of an SS officer in love with a married Dutch woman who's been forced into prostitution by the Nazis in 1943, and the disappearance of a student revolutionary some 30 years later in Argentina. After being arrested in Amsterdam, beautiful Marijke de Graaf is separated from her beloved husband, Theo. After learning that Theo has been taken to Buchenwald, she is sent to work at the camp's brothel. There, she catches the eye of Karl M ller, an officer on the rise who is ambivalent about Nazi ideology. This story dovetails with that of Luciano Wagner, a student in Buenos Aires in 1977, who's kidnapped by government officials who are trying to quash an uprising. Luciano is only tangentially involved with the movement, drawn to it mostly by his crush on his friend Fabi n, but he's nonetheless interrogated and tortured. With the help of Gabriel, a fellow prisoner, he's later assigned a job handling top-secret files, which he tries to smuggle out. On top of the uneven writing, Keith's characterization of Karl as a conflicted man trying to be two people is handled without nuance, as is Luciano's strained relationship with his disapproving father. The novel's two stories conflate in a poignant resolution, but it isn't enough to rescue an unsuccessful narrative. \n\nThis review has been revised to more accurately reflect the character Marijke's experience at the concentration camp.
The Dutch Wife
The title is misleading. It is more the story of Mueller, what he did and what he lost. The irony of losing his son and having the son being gay is not lost on the reader.
Theo would have known about the prisoner brothel so I think her secret would have been found out.
For a first effort it was good but too many loose ends.
The Dutch Wife
What a humongous waste of my time reading this book for my book club. One character, Luciano, was inserted for nothing more than sado masochism. You find there’s a tie in to another character in the final pages, but there’s no clarity as to what that relationship is. The lovers get together in the end like any true soap opera, but she’s probably going to spend the rest of her life dreaming about her perfect Aryan lover. The whole thing is just a depressing diatribe not worthy of the paper on which it is written.
The Dutch Wife
I hope you didn’t read the last review. It is a spoiler. I couldn’t put this book down. It gives the reader a great insight into life behind the barbed wire of a concentration camp, as well as developing the changes in a naive young man as he lost most, but not all, of his compassion. The title is a bit deceiving but it caught my eye at a bookstore and I’m glad it did. I recommend the Dutch Wife.