The Netherlands, Spring 1943. When her glittering career as a ballerina is cut short by a dancing injury, Elise Van Thooft-Noman, rebellious daughter of a powerful Dutch Nazi, flees to an isolated island off the coast of Holland. Here she meets Pieter Goedhart, reluctant village schoolmaster and Resistance fighter. A dangerous affair is kindled between them. Meanwhile Elise’s Nazi family and the terrifying brutality of war are closing in, threatening to destroy all she holds dear…
New York, September 2008. Uncomfortably overweight, single and scraping thirty, Jenni Malarkey is summoned to a mysterious party to celebrate her estranged grandmother’s glamorous life. Her journey through Elise’s secret history will force her to confront a legacy of guilt and shame… Past and present intersect, as unlikely hearts connect to seek love and redemption, in this haunting time-shift novel set in wartime Holland and contemporary New York.
The Nazi’s Daughter by Tim Murgatroyd is the story of Elise and Jenni, two women, generations apart inked by blood and history. Jenni is Elise’s granddaughter. The story begins with the death of Elise. Jenni attends a celebration of her grandmother’s life although it is clear from the start that the two didn’t really know each other. However, at this ceremony, she decides to get to know her grandmother. She starts searching for answers and asking questions to find out who she was.
The story is narrated in two timelines. The past is set in 1943 with Elise growing up as the Nazi’s daughter. She suffers an injury and goes off to live at the coast where she meets Peter. Peter is in the resistance. In his house, there are people hiding in the attic including Jews, a man wanted by the Nazi and black pilot. Peter and Elise meet and over time, friendship turns to something more. However, their identities pose a threat to the relationship and to the lives of those around them. If the resistance finds out about Peter’s relationship with Elise, they could eliminate her based on the fear that she will reveal their secrets. If the Nazis find out about the relationship and take a closer look at Peter, they may find the people in his attic and that would mean death to them and Peter. In addition, one of the Nazi officers, Cornelius has an interest in Elise and is determined to marry her. This poses another challenge to the relationship. Although both are hiding secrets and fears about the relationship, Peter and Elise can’t fight the feelings that they had for each other.
I liked the past narrations. The 1943 timeline was interesting. The author developed the setting to reflect the realities of the time. The conflict between the Nazi, resistance and Jews was vividly portrayed through the pages. I know this shouldn’t shock me but I still can’t believe that there are people who were once loyal to Hitler. In the book, the Nazis determination is evident. They believe in Hitler and his ideologies. They are so dedicated to their leader that not even family can deter their commitment. On the other hand, I liked the description of the resistance. These are people who decided not to support the Hitler madness and risked their lives to do so.
Elise stands out in the narrative. She was rebellious, strong and determined. Her family name haunted her wherever she went but in a way, she was determined to establish her own identity. On the other hand, her granddaughter was different. I don’t have much to say about her apart from the fact that I admired her resolve to find answers. However, thinking about her now, I don’t think her character was as well developed as Elise’s. I didn’t connect with her and I actually found myself more interested in her grandmother’s story.
This book is tragic and certain events broke my heart. However, the story was addictive. I especially wanted to know Elise and the events that took place in her life. The writing has an easy flow to it. The only thing that bugged me a little bit was the amount of details. I could skip a paragraph and find out that I hadn’t missed anything. Nevertheless, I think that this book will appeal to lovers of historical fiction.
22 thoughts on “The Nazi’s Daughter by Tim Murgatroyd”
I love a good WWII book. Will definitely be on the look out for this one. I have read on based in Holland.
Which one did you read?I’m trying to read more historical fiction lately so I’m always looking for good ones.I hope that you will enjoy this book as much as I did.
More recently, I have really enjoyed The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas (yes it does live to the hype though I am yet to watch the movie), Salt to the Sea and Between Shades of Grey. Which surprisingly are all Middle Grade and YA books. The Book Thief (both book and movie) are really good. I have watched Suite Francaise movie but the book along with All the Light that We cannot See have been on my shelves for close to two years now. Oops! I wrote post about them here: http://wp.me/pPlWe-1fd
But on my Netgalley queue, I have ‘The Prague Sonata’ by Bradford Morrow. I think it should still be available. More recently, booktube has been hyping ‘The Gustav Sonata’, I think it was nominated for Man Booker Prize or something Plus I found ‘The Pianist’ at an inama bookshop recently.
I sense a musical theme here. lol!
I have a copy of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. I need to read that. Yeah, I absolutely love The Book Thief(book plus movie). Like you, I need to read All The Light We Cannot See. I have heard good things about it. Thanks for all the recommendations and for the link 🙂
I feel like there are SO many WWII books out right now. Have you noticed that? I wonder why. What is it that draws you to WWII books in particular?
Yeah, I have been seeing more of historical fiction lately. I wonder if its an increase in the books or is it that more people are interested in the genre. I started reading more of the genre this year in March. WWW11 books appeal to me because its not a period that I know a lot about.Its not something that we learned in school in detail apart from general facts and of course, Kenya’s role. Its the same thing with the Civil Rights Movement. I learned about the period from books that I read on my own. Each new book brings more information. For instance, I didn’t know about the resistance movement until reading this book. I knew that there were anti-Nazi Germans but not about the movement. So I read these books because they tell stories about a period that I know little about. A dark period that shaped the world as it is now. Even in fiction, most authors use reality in setting the background of the story.
Ahhh, that makes sense. Plus, I tend to remember history better when it’s broken down and humanized in fiction.
Hey Grab the Lapels. I am drawn to the resilience of the survivors and wondering what I would survive if I was in a similar situation. Also being a reader gives a broader picture so I always feel a lot of ‘shoulda-coulda-wouldas ‘ for the characters that I particularly get attached to but this also serves as a reminder to live more intentionally.
Another historical fiction to mark for my TBR then 🙂
Yay.I hope that you will like it as much as I did when you get a chance to read it.
I could skip a paragraph and find out that I hadn’t missed anything.
I’m reading lots of books these days where I feel this way… glad you liked this one, the blurb is really intriguing!
Thanks Annie. I feel the same way of late. There are many books that have been written like that so they end up being longer than they really should. Yeah, this really was a wonderful read 🙂
Was there a lot about dancing in the book? I’m not really interested in WWII books, but the cover made me stop and read this review carefully.
Actually no. The dancing come in the background story of the main character. She was a ballerina and in a way, her dancing is what led her to meet Peter and hence it influenced a lot of the things that happened in the book. However, it was not the main part of the story.
That stinks. I bet the cover artist only got a synopsis.
I don’t entirely agree dance was background. There were the scenes with the village folk dances and of course the Nazi propaganda film where Cornelis tried to make out the Dutch folk dances were Ayran. Plus all the ballet references too but Elise is injured so it is not going to feature too much dancing! I think the cover represents the different elements of the story and the main heroine but no, it isn’t a book primarily about ballet per se. It is an original book and beautiful story (sad too) and many images will stay with you (in a good way!) after reading.
Hi Catherine,I agree with you.I loved the story and thought it was moving and quite memorable.
I said dance was in the background since it was present in the entire story but it wasn’t the main storyline.Mel thought it was a ballet book based on the cover so that’s what I was responding to.
I like what you said about the cover though and it does capture the idea of the story.
Thanks for stopping by and commenting 🙂
This story line sounds intriguing. I have wondered about family members of Nazis, absolutely insane sometimes that so many people fell in line with Hitler and those beliefs. They totally lost sight of others’ humanity.
You are so right. I have always wondered how he was able to convince so many people. Like the Germans who worked in the concentration camps, were they just following orders or did they really believe that they were doing the right thing. About the families, it must be hard to have that history. I
This sounds like a good book! Also I guess a bit different idea for the plot. Usually we have a lots of fiction about survivors/Jews but here it’s Nazi’s daughter.
It definitely took a different approach by telling the story of a girl born into a Nazi family although she didn’t share in their beliefs which led to a number of conflicts. I am glad that the author decided to give a different angle to the story. Thanks for stopping by 🙂