A Story of War and Family, Lost and Found
The enthralling story of a man's search for the truth about his family's past.
The Costa Book of the Year 2018
The last time Lien saw her parents was in the Hague when she was collected at the door by a stranger and taken to a city far away to be hidden from the Nazis.
She was raised by her foster family as one of their own, but a falling out well after the war meant they were no longer in touch. What was her side of the story, Bart van Es - a grandson of the couple who looked after Lien - wondered? What really happened during the war, and after?
So began an investigation that would consume and transform both Bart van Es's life and Lien's. Lien was now in her 80s and living in Amsterdam. Reluctantly, she agreed to meet him, and eventually they struck up a remarkable friendship. The Cut Out Girl braids together a powerful recreation of Lien's intensely harrowing childhood story with the present-day account of Bart's efforts to piece that story together. And it embraces the wider picture, too, for Holland was more cooperative in rounding up its Jews for the Nazis than any other Western European country; that is part of Lien's story too.
This is an astonishing, moving reckoning with a young girl's struggle for survival during war. It is a story about the powerful love and challenges of foster families, and about the ways our most painful experiences - so crucial in defining us - can also be redefined.
Superb. This is a necessary book - painful, harrowing, tragic, but also uplifting (The Times Book of the Week)
Deeply moving. Writes with an almost Sebaldian simplicity and understatement (Guardian)
Astonishing. Van Es has created a masterpiece of history and memoir, concluding on a note of reconciliation, hope and great love (Evening Standard)
Deeply moving, this is a remarkable memoir (Sunday Times)
Publisher: Penguin Books