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Penguin: Adult Hardcover & Trade Paperback Summer 2019

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The Cut Out Girl
A Story of War and Family, Lost and Found
By (author): Bart van Es
9780735222267 Paperback, Trade English General Trade BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY / Personal Memoirs Aug 13, 2019
$23.00 CAD
Active 5.5 x 8.3 x 0.7 in 304 pages 35 B/W PHOTOS THROUGHOUT Penguin Two Penguin Books
The extraordinary true story of a young Jewish girl in Nazi-occupied Holland, who finds both refuge and pain in an underground network of foster families, one of them the author’s grandparents

One story from Bart van Es’s Dutch childhood never left him. It was a mystery of sorts: a young Jewish girl named Lien had been taken in during WWII by relatives and hidden from the Nazis, handed over by her parents to protect her. The girl had been raised by Bart’s relatives as one of their own, but then, well after the war, there was a falling out. What was the girl’s side of the story, Bart wondered? What really happened during the war, and after?

So began an investigation that would consume Bart’s life, and change it. After some sleuthing, he learned that Lien was now in her 80s and living in Amsterdam. Somewhat 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 with the present-day account of Bart’s efforts to piece her story together, including bringing some old ghosts into the light.

It is a story rich with contradictions. There is enormous bravery and generosity—from Lien’s parents, giving up their beloved daughter, and from the Dutch families who face great danger from the Nazi occupation for taking Lien and other Jewish children in. But tidy Holland also must face a darker truth: it was more cooperative in rounding up its Jews for the Nazis than any other Western European country, and that is part of Lien’s story too.

The Cut Out Girl is an astonishment, a deeply moving reckoning with a young girl’s struggle for survival during war, a story about the powerful love of foster families but also the powerful challenges, and about the ways our most painful experiences define us as we define them. A work of great subtlety, decency, and unflinching observation, The Cut Out Girl is a triumphant blend of many keys of writing into an extraordinary new harmony and a deeper truth.

Story Locale: The Netherlands

TIMELY ON THE SUBJECT OF REFUGEES: In this time of heightened awareness of the question of what we owe to the world’s neediest refugees, Lien’s story is a piercing reminder of what truly heroic generosity under much more dangerous circumstances looks like.

A NEW WINDOW ON THE HOLOCAUST: We all know of Anne Frank’s fate; much less well known are the stories of other Jewish children in Holland who were taken in and hidden by a network of good Samaritan foster families.

A WORK OF REMARKABLE LITERARY POWER: This extraordinarily skilled mélange of history and memoir benefits from the author’s experience having a foster daughter himself.

Bart van Es is a Professor of English Literature at the University of Oxford and a Fellow of St. Catherine’s College. He is the author of Spenser’s Forms of History, Shakespeare in Company, and Shakespeare’s Comedies. He was born in the Netherlands and now lives with his family in England.

Author Residence: Oxford, UK

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New in paperback

“Quite remarkable—the story of one traumatic childhood, deeply moving, and told with great dexterity, allowing the wisdoms of today to run parallel with the absorbing narrative of wartime events. The surviving photographs provide an intimacy—bring these families to life—as does the author’s determined concern.” —Penelope Lively, winner of the Man Booker Prize

“Luminous, elegant, haunting - I read it straight through.” —Philippe Sands, author of East West Street: On the Origins of Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity

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