Tamar by

24 January 2011

Call no:
Genre: ,
Rated :

ISBN: 9781406303940

In the end, it was her grandfather, William Hyde, who gave the unborn child her name.

It is World War II and two Dutch men are in England learning everything they can about the Dutch resistance. Dart and Tamar will be parachuted into the Netherlands where they will be assigned roles in the resistance. Those aren’t their real names of course, they are the names of English rivers, designations that the British military have given them. Tamar has already been on assignment, this will be Dart’s first mission.

tamarIn modern day England Tamar is a young girl whose grandfather has recently died. And left her a box of maps and codes and puzzles. A box that leads to her following a path along the riv Tamar, and also into the part and her grandfather’s role in the resistance.

This was well reviewed by Nymeth way back in June of last year. I did order it back then, but have only just got around to reading it this week.

There are aspects to this book that I figured out right from the get go, or at the very least suspected. But that doesn’t take away anything from this book. It was a really interesting and entertaining read. In alternating narrations we visit the past and Nazi occupied Netherlands[1] and in the other we are with Tamar as she follows her grandfather’s hints and clues. It is a Young Adult book, but in many ways it is simply a novel about war, love, and secrets. I’m not saying that to be negative about the YA genre, but because some people think that a YA or Juvenile book has something intrinsicly different about it from an adult’s fiction book. And I suppose those aimed at the younger age group tend to be written in a more simplistic manner, but many simply have a teen as a protagonist and that means they are downgraded in some people’s eyes. This could very easily be marketed to adults who look down on YA books.

But enough about some people’s preconceptions and prejudices, back to the book!

It is a book all about how history isn’t just something that happened to people long long ago. Actions have repercussions and the past influences the present in so many ways that we might not think. Tamar, born in 1979, is a product of the past, and of the actions her grandparents took in the war. Her father’s actions are directly influenced by his father’s role in the war. It is a fascinating book, and, unusually both narratives kept me interested. Normally in these books with two different story lines one is more engaging than the other. In this case while at first I was more interested in the WWII plot, but as the 1990s developed I was just as interested in that one too.

It is also a book all about secrets, love, betrayal, and trust. But to say much more than that might be to spoil some aspects of the story, and we couldn’t be doing with that! The other thing that I really enjoyed about this book was that I knew very little about The Netherlands during the war. I mean, I was vaguely aware that they were an occupied country but I knew nothing else about them, and certainly didn’t know about their resistance. I do remember reading some post about the Hunger Winter on Metafilter, unfortunately I didn’t do much further reading on the topic.

Other reviews: Things Mean a Lot ; Writing Wrongs ; Book Monkey


  1. through QI I have learned that Holland is only an area in the Netherlands and so should not be used to describe the whole country

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6 Responses

  1. Kailana says:

    I had forgotten about this book. I had it out from the library last year and really wanted to read it, but never got a chance. Must remedy that this year because I am curious!
    Kailana´s last blog post ..Nightschool- The Weirn Books – Volume 1 by Svetlana Chmakova

  2. Caroline says:

    This does sound intriguing, will have to check it out. I start to get tired about people’s prejudice of YA novels. I have a feeling, as soon as I mention it in one of my reviews the book is dead. Quite sad as there is such a lot of original writing labelled YA and I enjoyed so many of the books. Yeah well…
    Caroline´s last blog post ..Susan Hill- Howards End is on the Landing 2009 A Bookish Memoir

    • Fence says:

      Yeah, sometimes you don’t want to say anything about it being YA in case you put people off. But you also want to recommend it to them because it is such a good example of a well-written YA book :)

  3. Kathleen says:

    I have no prejudice against YA novels. One of my favorite reads last year was a YA book. This book is very appealing to me in that there is a WWII element to the story and having studied history in college, this is something that always interests me. I also like the idea of legacy and this book seems to spend some time on this as well. Thank you for a thoughtful and compelling review.
    Kathleen´s last blog post ..The Death Instinct by Jed Rubenfeld