I love reading books that are picked for me by other people such as my family. I was given this book one Christmas by my beloved Grandmother. She used to always send me piles of books for Christmas knowing how much of a bookworm I am! This is one of the books she picked out for me.. and honestly its outstandingly brilliant.
Tamar is a historical novel, which is probably my favourite genre. Set during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands in the second world war, the book follows Tamar, the code-name of a Dutch man who lived in England before the war began, and is sent to his home country in 1944. He has one mission; to help re-organise the Dutch resistance and undermine the German authority. Tamar also has a companion, a radio operator named Dart who reports their every movement back to London. However the story runs parallel to a story set in England during the 1990’s. Tamar is a fifteen year old, who’s Grandfather, a spy during WW2, has committed suicide following his wife’s dementia. However her grandfather has left a clue; a box to guide her. Tamar uncovers a story that goes back to the wartime period of which her Grandfather refused to speak of and discovers a story that she could never imagine!
The historical half of the story, rather than focusing on the political or military history, focuses most heavily on the social side of WW2. I loved learning about the Dutch resistant movements, where danger lurked at every corner. The book however does include significant historical events, for example ‘The Hunger Winter during 1944 which adds to the authenticity of the book. Additionally the present day storyline is just as engaging, with the mystery constantly unfolding before our eyes . The structure was brilliant and I found myself racing to read more and more of the book, this was because the stories were so brilliantly interwoven between present and past that it was impossible not to want to read on. The interweaving of the stories was further seen in the long term impact that the horrors of the war have on the ‘present day’ Tamar, and how it has directly influenced and affected her life also. Additionally there is the complexity of Tamar’s family and the war is part of the reason why. After her father disappears when she is only a child she is raised almost entirely by her Grandparents. This has a significant affect on Tamar, with her Grandfather seeming emotionally unavailable, as the story continues their relationship grows; this only increases the pain of his suicide.
The ending is a brilliant, finale of excitement and mystery. The complex ending means that we as a reader cannot come to easy answers, and instead we have to face the ending as a piece of history, just like Tamar has to in the story. I loved the drama, excitement, romance all encased in this historical drama. Definitely worth a read!
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