Release Date: October 2013
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
My Rating: 4.5/5
Source: Received for review from author/publisher
Cover: Thumbs up. I like that it’s clean and simple.
In a riveting exploration of the power the past wields over the present, critically acclaimed author Antoinette van Heugten writes the story of a woman whose child's life hangs in the balance, forcing her to confront the roots of her family's troubled history in the dark days of World War II.
It's the stuff of nightmares: Nora de Jong returns home from work one ordinary day to find her mother has been murdered. Her infant daughter is missing. And the only clue is the body of an unknown man on the living-room floor, clutching a Luger in his cold, dead hand.
Frantic to find Rose, Nora puts aside her grief and frustration to start her own search. But the contents of a locked metal box she finds in her parents' attic leave her with as many questions as answers—and suggest the killer was not a stranger. Saving her daughter means delving deeper into her family's darkest history, leading Nora half a world away to Amsterdam, where her own unsettled past and memories of painful heartbreak rush back to haunt her.
As Nora feverishly pieces together the truth from an old family diary, she's drawn back to a city under Nazi occupation, where her mother's alliances may have long ago sealed her ownand Rose's—fate.
Before starting the review I want to give a small introduction to my history with Antoinette van Heugten and her books. Back when I was still running P.S. I Love Books I was given the chance to review her first title Saving Max. It quickly became one of my favorite reads because of her simplistic yet addicting story telling. It was hard to put the book down because the pacing and plot snatched up my attention. With life constantly getting in the way for me and reading I absolutely love when I find a book that refuses to let me go. So to make a long story short I was super excited when I received a Goodreads message from Antoinette simply thanking me for requesting to be her friend. Before I knew it she had offered me a chance to review her newest title The Tulip Eaters. I was beyond happy because as you all know I’ve only recently gotten back into reviewing. I’ve missed interacting with authors terribly and “meeting” Antoinette (via internet) has made me one happy clam! So enough blabbing… let me give you my thoughts on The Tulip Eaters.
The Tulip Eaters starts out very fast-paced with Nora de Jong coming home from work one day to discover her mother murdered, a dead man not far from her mother’s body, and her infant daughter missing. Like the author’s first novel, I had some problems with the reality of certain situations. I found a number Nora’s actions somewhat implausible. Granted, Nora is an extremely distraught mother who is on the brink of losing her mind with grief. I admire her determination to find her daughter. I admire her courage to ignore the authorities and go off on her own search. But realistically, many things happen in the novel that just stretch a bit too far for me. But on the same token, without Nora’s rashness the mystery of her family’s history and Rose’s disappearance would probably never have been investigated fast enough or at all. The judicial system, be it international or not, is a slow moving giant that sometimes may never even come through for a victim.
Despite Nora’s daring recklessness, the history of her family is something to journey through. I, like many others my age (or any age probably), forget how recent WWII was. Yes it’s 2013 but the 1940s was the time of my grandparents. It’s a shame I’m not close to my family because I would love to know their thoughts on living through the very things I learned in school. Nora’s Dutch lineage and history is woven so thrillingly into the plot that I had to keep reading at every spare moment I had. That’s what I love about Antoinette’s writing. I’ve read some reviewers think the writing in this novel is juvenile or that it lacks depth. But I have to disagree. I like that I don’t have to swim through so much depth to understand the most basic point of the plot. I like that I don’t have to over think anything and that I can just relax and enjoy a thrilling story.
A plus side to The Tulip Eaters is that the historical part of the novel is more like an introduction to readers who may or may not be familiar with the Dutch history surrounding WWII. Antoinette doesn’t bog the reader down with tons of historical facts. She provides enough facts to leave the reader either satisfied or inspired to go find out more, like myself. I know I’ll be reading more books about this fairly recent time in history.
While the characters may come across a little flat or predictable it doesn’t change the fact that The Tulip Eaters was a very addictive read. The story had its fault but it didn’t fail in reeling me in until the very last page. Antoinette is now on my automatic buy list with two novels that I really enjoyed already on my shelf.