I'm always in the mood for a good World War 2 historical fiction novel, even more when it's a different location or event than the typical novels. The Orphans of Amsterdam definitely fit the bill, being based on a true story of women saving young Jewish children in occupied Holland.
About The Orphans of Amsterdam:
Amsterdam, 1941. My hands are so shaky I’m fumbling. Where to hide? I pull open the dresser, throw aside the blankets, put the baby in and push the drawer shut, just as the nursery door swings open. The German officer marches into the room, yelling over the crying downstairs: ‘You! Grab all the children – now!’
Based on the heart-wrenching true story of an ordinary young woman who risked everything to save countless children from the Nazis.
My name is Betty. Until a few months ago, I was just like every other nursery teacher in the city… then the Nazis came and began to take our children away. Now, the nursery is part of a German deportation centre. Little ones and their families are being forced across the border, to a place called Auschwitz. No one comes back.
So when I hear there’s an underground network to save the children, I know I have to help. Sometimes the parents won’t be parted from them, and sometimes we can’t get to them in time – there are spies everywhere. But each time I smuggle the warm, innocent bundle of a sleeping baby past the Nazi guards and into the arms of the resistance, I know it’s worth the risk.
Tonight, in the pitch black, we are readying five little ones to escape ahead of a transport tomorrow. We don’t know where they’re going, and they may never see their parents again. As I button their coats and smooth their hair, my hands trembling, I hear the nightmare sound of heavy army boots on the stairs. My breath catches and my blood runs cold…
The Orphans of Amsterdam is another amazing novel that I am so glad to have been a part of the book tour. As the author herself is Dutch, I'm not sure it is a novel I would have easily discovered on my own and that would have been quite the loss. Van Rijn's writing style held my interest, especially with the fact based information that was interspersed within the novel. The book itself covered an area I knew virtually nothing about and it definitely kept me turning the pages to find out more and more. The risks Betty and her coworkers took to save the children in the care were unbelievable, and knowing it was based on a true story made it really hit home.
Elle van Rijn is a Dutch actress, screenwriter of series and films, and author of columns, although her greatest passion lies with writing novels.
Find the author on social media