For fans of bestselling WWII fiction comes a powerful novel from Lynn Austin about three women whose lives are instantly changed when the Nazis invade the neutral Netherlands, forcing each into a complicated dance of choice and consequence.
Lena is a wife and mother who farms alongside her husband in the tranquil countryside. Her faith has always been her compass, but can she remain steadfast when the questions grow increasingly complex and the answers could mean the difference between life and death?
Lena’s daughter Ans has recently moved to the bustling city of Leiden, filled with romantic notions of a new job and a young Dutch police officer. But when she is drawn into Resistance work, her idealism collides with the dangerous reality that comes with fighting the enemy.
Miriam is a young Jewish violinist who immigrated for the safety she thought Holland would offer. She finds love in her new country, but as her family settles in Leiden, the events that follow will test them in ways she could never have imagined.
The Nazi invasion propels these women onto paths that cross in unexpected, sometimes-heartbreaking ways. Yet the story that unfolds illuminates the surprising endurance of the human spirit and the power of faith and love to carry us through.
Ans was my favorite character and plotline in this book. At first, I didn’t think I would like her—the “rebellious” teenager who wants to see more of the world has been so overdone and isn’t that true to life, I’m finding. But as the book went on, she developed into a sympathetic character. I loved that her plotline didn’t end with pat answers, that it changed it up a little bit. She struggled with real questions in very real ways and found real answers.
Lena was my second favorite. Because who can’t relate to wanting control when everything is nose-diving?
Miriam was my least favorite. Her story was just something that happens in so many novels. Girl meets guy, they fall in love, get married, have a baby, are separated for some reason, and spend the rest of the book crying and searching for each other. That being said, I loved the connection of her violin. And the emotion she worked through while giving her child up was very real and raw, giving a good glimpse into what mothers of the time actually would have been feeling.
The prologue did exactly its job! It makes you want to figure out how the characters got there, but doesn’t give away how it ends.
I also loved the inclusion of Ans’ friend who is fighting depression. It is a topic that needs addressed more in fiction and often gets glossed over or sensationalized in historical fiction.
The book felt a little detached from the characters sometimes. This may have been just part of the writing voice of this one, but I would have liked to get inside the heads of the characters some more.
There were also some of the spies that worked with Lena that I would have loved to know more about. In fact, the ending seemed a tad bit on the rushed side. But there were also three plotlines to be closed up and only a few pages to do it in. Honestly, the author did fantastic juggling those three plotlines.
Chasing Shadows is definitely worth a read. While it doesn’t dive into the characters’ heads too much, it does provide a realistic glimpse into what life in the time was like.
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