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The Twins

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Two elderly women, one Dutch and one German, meet by chance at the famous health resort of Spa. They recognize in the other their twin sister they believed to be lost. They begin to tell each other their life stories - the last chance to bridge a gulf of almost seventy years. In this monumental novel, Tessa de Loo compellingly weaves the story of two twin sisters separated in childhood with that of two countries opposed in war, and depicts, in a simple yet harrowing prose the effects of nature and nurture on the individual.
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Originally published in the Netherlands in 1993, De Loo!s first novel to be translated into English explores the enmity that existed between Germans and the rest of Europe after World War II. This moving tale addresses notions of guilt and responsibility in a sensitive, thought-provoking manner, without exonerating or condemning. Twins Anna and Lotte Bamberg are born in Cologne but orphaned and separated when they are five. While Lotte is taken in by Dutch relatives, Anna is raised by her grandfather in rural poverty. With the advent of war, their lives take very different turns: Lotte!s family hides an assortment of refugees, while Anna finds love with a soldier of the Reich. Besides two unsuccessful brief meetings, they have no contact until a chance encounter in the Belgian resort town of Spa about 40 years after the war. Anna is eager to reestablish their relationship, yet Lotte is more reluctant. As she gradually comes to understand that not all is black and white, she is able to find her sister again. While some may sense (and resent) an apologist tone to the novel, readers are asked to look deeply into themselves and others before making blanket judgments. Highly recommended for academic and public libraries."David W. Henderson, Eckerd Coll. Lib., St. Petersburg, FL Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

"'Completely original. A fiction whose poise, compassion and breadth take the reader's breath away' - Joan Smith, Sunday Times; 'This excellent novel spans the entire twentieth century. De Loo interleaves the twins' story with that of two countries locked in bloody conflict. A moving read about humanity's darkest hour' - Sebastian Shakespeare, Evening Standard; 'Details of time, place and atmosphere are acutely evoked, and the characters are presented with a generous sympathy that stops short of special pleading. Already a best-seller in the author's native Holland, the book deserves to become one here' - The Times"

Historical and human perspectives clash in this cool, compassionate psychological novel centered around the 1990 chance meeting of two elderly women at Spa, the Belgian health resort. Each woman has come for the famously curative waters. But not by chance does each suffer from debilitating arthritis. The women are twins, separated in childhood by the death of their parents. Anna stays in their native Germany, while Lotte is taken in by relatives in the Netherlands. Consequently, they lose touch with each other and live through the rise of Hitler, the Second World War and the postwar era from opposed positions. The clanking machinery of young Dutch novelist de Loo's premise is at first off-putting, yet in the end she offers a novel of considerable substanceÄone that is historically acute and richly imaginative. Lotte despises the Germans and feels disconnected from them, believing that in her sister's place she would have acted differently, since her husband was a Dutch Jew. Anna, meanwhile, though certainly a good woman who harbors only feelings of contempt for the Nazis, married an SS officer from Vienna. What was the degree of her complicity in Nazi horrors? Both sisters lost their husbands in the war, one to random Allied bombing, the other to an Austrian concentration camp. The narrative unfolds through a series of often thorny conversations, as the sisters probe these and other points of contention. De Loo artfully weaves two fully developed fictional personalities into an expertly realized historical background. Overarching questions of guilt and complicity, of good and bad luck, remain unresolved, but the novel subtly illuminates the ambiguities of national identity and family love. (Aug.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

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