A new historical fiction book by Paulette Mahurin, The Girl From Huizen, caught my attention. Her inspiring novel follows two women who are friends in the 1940s during the German occupation of the Netherlands. Here is the book synopsis, two excerpts, and more about the author. I have known Paulette for several years through our blogs. I appreciate how she balances writing with supporting bloggers and her advocacy work with dogs.
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About The Girl From Huizen
The German occupation of the Netherlands brings with it food shortages, harsh treatment for resistants and deportation of Jews. The changes dramatically affect Rosamond Jansen’s life on her family’s farm on the outskirts of Huizen.
When she finds herself under constant surveillance and oppressive treatment in her government typist job and the Nazis deport her best friend, her resentment turns to fear and a deepening hatred. Verbal cruelty, belittlement and emotional turmoil take their toll on her until a man arrives at the farm who, along with her uncle from Amsterdam, enlist her father into resistance work. When her father does not return home, Rosamond, too, is drawn into resistance activity. As more people disappear from her life, her involvement goes deeper, bringing her to a villa in Huizen where a woman named Madelief has a secret. As Rosamond becomes close to Madelief and the secret is revealed, her life starts to unravel.
Based on actual events at the villa, The Girl from Huizen tells the story of how Rosamond, working with Madelief, dared to defy the SS and their collaborators. But this is no ordinary Resistance versus Nazi story, rather it is a story of a shocking and unexpected unfolding where flames of tension ignite the page, as loss and grief consume and drive the girl from Huizen. It is a powerful story about the trusting friendship between two women. Ultimately The Girl from Huizen is a homage to the brave resistance members who risked everything to fight against Nazi oppression. Their efforts saved thousands upon thousands of lives.
Book excerpts from The Girl From Huizen
This excerpt is from Paulette Mahurin’s new book, The Girl From Huizen. Reprinted with permission from the author.
Another visit from my mother relaying news from Mr. Kesel lifted our spirits. Madelief and I listened to my mother tell us that the Allies had bombed the dykes on Walcheren Island flooding German positions. We toasted the news, raising our glasses of water.
News also got out about the unimaginable numbers of deported. Like with every other attack, the counterattacks were harsh throughout Holland. Locally, the SS in collaboration with Meijer banged down doors and dragged Jews and resistance members out of safe houses. Not all made it beyond the driveway where they were beaten or shot. Those who witnessed it or heard reports secondhand commented that the bloodletting had become atrocious. The verbal cruelty despicable. Men in uniforms and collaborators in civilian clothing laughingly bragged about their numbers. “Eight in one house,” a local plumber boasted to his neighbor who happened to be a resistance member. The plumber received a commendation from Meijer, who relished the numbers. Word was that the larger Meijer’s statistic the more favor he gained from his SS higher-up and that meant notice from Hitler. It was a sick game of follow-the-leader.
Huizen was rapidly turning into a cemetery inhabited by the ghosts of human beings the Nazi regime deemed undesirable. In addition to Jews, Gypsies, mentally ill or disabled, homosexuals, and anyone politically opposed to the regime, innocent people in the wrong place at the wrong time became suspect and brought in. ‘Brought in’ was a one-way door to a camp.
When rumors got really bad and the onslaught of deportations and deaths seemed never ending, the news in reports grew more lethal. News leaked from camps. A report that was sent from the Dutch administration to Himmler stated over a hundred-thousand Jews had been deported to concentration and extermination camps.
Madelief relayed information she’d received and when she got to the part about extermination camps, she asked, “Are you sure you want me to continue?”
Speechless at that point, sickened, I nodded.
“Of the thousands of Jews transported to Westerbork and from there to Auschwitz… word is not many are still alive.”
I gasped, clenching my fists. I wondered how many would live to come home. I had heard Auschwitz mentioned a couple of times before, when Mr. Kesel was over. Those were the conversations that my mother truncated, switching the topic to something more palatable. My stomach turned when Madelief spoke of the way the imprisoned were worked to death, but before dropping dead from exhaustion and lack of food they had to live in squalid infested conditions with virtually no latrines or washrooms, breathing in fetid air filled with rodent droppings and crematorium ash.
At the point I didn’t think I could take more of the abomination, she mentioned how inmates were sent to gas chambers. I lost my breakfast.
A second excerpt from Paulette Mahurin’s new book, The Girl From Huizen. Reprinted with permission from the author.
I crept outside to an area in the back where I could peer around to the driveway without being seen if I had to get back inside to warn Madelief someone had arrived. To look like I was gardening, I pulled a few weeds. My mind was more active than my hands. Every sound made my heart flutter, my head throb. Where a breeze wisped across a few leaves, I thought I heard a distant car approaching. When I did hear a car, I slammed the spade in my hand into the ground to steady my shaking. I couldn’t breathe until it passed and then my head really went off on me. Who was that? Where were they going? Not hearing it stop, I wondered if it was an SS emblazoned sedan cruising the area. Will they return to pounce on us?
Of all things, I became distracted from morbid thoughts when an earthworm popped its head out of a small mound of compost next to my gloved hand. It wiggled its broad, cylindrical body right onto my glove as if to tap me on the shoulder and say there’s someone here, someone not dangerous. Someone alive. Pay attention. That’s exactly what I did. For the next I don’t know how long I watched it lengthen and shorten its body segments as it moved across my hand and up my arm. The tickle it made was so much nicer than the itching I felt earlier when Madelief asked me to be a lookout.
I gave my new friend an identity and story, just like my father would have. I named my little worm buddy, Swan, after a character in my favorite childhood bedtime story, The Ugly Duckling. How odd that’s what came to me, a story about a creature who was shunned and perceived as ugly after his mother’s duck eggs hatched. Unable to endure a life of solitude, he threw himself at a flock of swans feeling it’s better to be killed by the beautiful birds than continue in misery. He was shocked when they didn’t hurt him until he saw his reflection in a lake and realized he was a swan.
I gently removed a glove and took Swan from my arm to place him in a safe area in the compost. A safe area where he will be with other earthworms. My thoughts about the little worm’s safety were interrupted by what sounded like a horse close by. What earlier might have startled me, no longer had that effect. That little worm taught me something, that being present to what is actually occurring is much less frightening than all the anticipatory thoughts about what could happen.
I also thought it interesting that the story I drew on was about rejecting someone because they look different. That was the plight of Jews under the Nazi regime. That shifted me back into a dark cavern of anticipation – worry over the arrival of the SS. As much as I tried to stay with the good feeling I had just experienced, I believed that it was only a matter of time, a short time, before they did come.
About author Paulette Mahurin
Paulette Mahruin is an award-winning, international bestselling author with twelve books to her credit, many of which have risen to #1 Amazon best seller lists in literary fiction and historical fiction. In 2006 she was listed as one of Amazon’s top 100 favorite author’s in literary and historical fiction.
Prior to taking up writing, having obtained a Master’s Degree in Science from UCLA, she practiced medicine as a Nurse Practitioner in the second busiest emergency room in Los Angeles County. She loves to write and when not involved in hours at the computer, she does pro bono medical consultation for women with cancer, works as a mediation volunteer in the Ventura County Superior Court in Ventura County, California, and along with her husband helps to rescue dogs from kill shelters.
Follow her blog to learn about her animal rights activist efforts with her husband, book news, and more.
See all of Paulette Mahurin’s books in one location on her Amazon Author’s page.
Get your copy of The Girl From Huizen today
The reviews for this book are incredible. Here are some of them:
“The bravery of all of the women in this book was inspiring, the story was quick paced, and the characters were memorable!” – MP NetGalley reviewer
“Great storyline about German occupation in Holland in the 1940s.” – AD NetGalley Reviewer
“An inspirational story that focuses on the lives of the heroes of the Dutch Resistance. Highly recommended.” – Readers Favorite
Get your copy of The Girl From Huizen through Amazon now. It is available in paperback or Kindle.