Once I started reading “Snow on the Tulips”, I had to do some research on the Dutch resistance during World War 2. I knew about *some* of the Resistance fighters in Europe and the activities they engaged in in wartime, but Ms. Tolsma’s novel brought home to me what it *could* have been like to live in the occupied Netherlands during this time.
The story-behind-the-story can be read here. What an amazing set of circumstances!
It is April, 1945 (almost to the end of the war!) Cornelia’s brother Johan is curious about the gunshots he hears nearby, and once it’s safe, he goes to investigate. He finds a survivor of a German execution (and yes, that *really* happened), and brings him home to hide him. Cornelia is reluctant at first to take the risk (the punishment for harboring an escaped prisoner is all too real), having already lost her husband to the war.
“Mem and Heit should never had died. I should have gone out and gotten the medicine for them.”
“There was no medicine to be had.”
“You don’t know what I would have found.”
“Doctor Boukma would have had the medicine if there had been any. It’s not your fault and it’s not mine. Risking your life won’t bring them back.”
“And mourning will never bring Hans back.” Her brother sounded far older than his years and not at all like the kid who came home a couple of months ago.”
A few quibbles: the food shortage seems to be somewhat glossed over. There is mention of the bakery having only very small loaves of bread left and ration books, and some mention of coffee and tea substitutes (some of the characters resort to drinking hot water)….but somehow I thought the difficulties were not portrayed as realistically as they could have been (if you go for months and years without sufficient food, wouldn’t it be on your mind daily?)
Another situation that seemed a bit unrealistic to me was the impersonation of a German soldier in the dark of night in the middle of a building…. I have a hard time believing the sentry would have let that one go! However I did some homework and read up on the Dutch Resistance, and they did some very daring and courageous things!
There were questions brought up that were good to mull over; how far does one go to survive during wartime when your village is occupied by enemy soldiers? do you just ‘get along’ as best you can, or do you try to help those who are unjustly persecuted? what if it means imprisonment or death? What is the Christian’s response to occupation by a conquering nation whose values seem utterly godless?
“He summoned the strength to tap the code Gerrit had taught him. Three knocks, pause, two knocks, pause, three knocks.
He dropped the knocker against the door and held his breath.
Steps sounded from inside and stopped. “Who is it?” a masculine voice asked.
At first, his words squeaked and cracked. He cleared his throat and tried again. “I have come with a delivery for you.”
“Bread or milk?”
“I have some vegetables.”
He didn’t know what it all meant – Gerrit hadn’t explained – but the man on the other side of the door must have understood the code. “Good. Carrots, potatoes, or beets?”
“Green beans? Are you sure?”
Johan thumped his head with his fist. Had he made a blunder?
… After a very long minute, the door creaked open and a hand pulled him inside.”
The dilemma that Corrie faced was realistic enough, as we all have trouble moving forward from a loss like hers (and really happened in the author’s family! to lose your husband the day after your wedding? unbelievable!) However, I did think that the romance between Gerrit and Corrie could have had less focus in the middle of the book. Although I like a little romance in a novel, I did think the romance in this one was a bit too overdone (maybe, just ‘dragged out’ a bit much).
On the whole, this novel was a good read. It is written from a Christian perspective. The characters pray, remember Scriptures to encourage them as they head out into dangerous territory, and make decisions based on what they feel the Lord would have them do. I am looking forward to reading Liz Tolsma’s next book, another WW2 novel, “Daisies are Forever” to see how her writing has developed.
“Snow on the Tulips” was an enjoyable read overall for me, as I found myself unable to forget the characters, and had to keep going back to read the next part of the story! and that (in my eyes) is the best recommendation a book can have : )