The Cut Out Girl

The Cut Out Girl : A Story of War and Family, Lost and Found: The Costa Book of the Year 2018

4.17 (471 ratings by Goodreads)
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'Luminous, elegant, haunting - I read it straight through' Philippe Sands, author of East West Street

'Superb. This is a necessary book - painful, harrowing, tragic, but also uplifting' The Times Book of the Week

The last time Lien saw her parents was in the Hague when she was collected at the door by a stranger and taken to a city far away to be hidden from the Nazis. She was raised by her foster family as one of their own, but a falling out well after the war meant they were no longer in touch. What was her side of the story, Bart van Es - a grandson of the couple who looked after Lien - wondered? What really happened during the war, and after?

So began an investigation that would consume and transform both Bart van Es's life and Lien's. Lien was now in her 80s and living in Amsterdam. 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 story with the present-day account of Bart's efforts to piece that story together. And it embraces the wider picture, too, for Holland was more cooperative in rounding up its Jews for the Nazis than any other Western European country; that is part of Lien's story too.

This is an astonishing, moving reckoning with a young girl's struggle for survival during war. It is a story about the powerful love and challenges of foster families, and about the ways our most painful experiences - so crucial in defining us - can also be redefined.

'Deeply moving. Van Es writes with an almost Sebaldian simplicity and understatement' Guardian
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Product details

  • Hardback | 288 pages
  • 144 x 222 x 29mm | 407g
  • Fig Tree
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0241284996
  • 9780241284995
  • 1,655

Review quote

An extraordinary, harrowing story of loss, survival and love * Guardian * Powerful . . . extraordinary * Irish Times * An extraordinary story, harrowing, deeply affecting. This fascinating story is guaranteed to haunt you * People * The Cut Out Girl is a reminder of the extraordinary richness of archives and the treasures released by scholarly research * TLS * Harrowing and beautiful * Bookseller * Fascinating, beautifully written. Van Es carefully salvages Lien's story and creates a deeply moving and complex book about war, atrocity and human suffering * The Oldie * A nuanced, moving, and unusual "hidden child" account * Publishers Weekly * 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 * Penelope Lively * Compassionate and thoughtfully rendered, the book is both a memorable portrait of a remarkable woman and a testament to the healing power of understanding. A complex and uplifting tale * Kirkus * Brought to life with family photographs and diary entries that add further impact to Lien's harrowing memories and testimony - this deeply affecting and fascinating story is guaranteed to haunt you * Sunday Mirror * Deeply moving, this is a remarkable memoir * Sunday Times * An awe-inspiring account of the tragedies and triumphs within the world of the Holocaust's "hide-away" children, and of the families who sheltered them * Georgia Hunter, author of We Were the Lucky Ones * Astonishing. Van Es has created a masterpiece of history and memoir, concluding on a note of reconciliation, hope and great love * Evening Standard * Deeply moving. Writes with an almost Sebaldian simplicity and understatement * Guardian * Superb. This is a necessary book - painful, harrowing, tragic, but also uplifting * The Times Book of the Week * Luminous, elegant, haunting - I read it straight through * Philippe Sands, Author of East West Street *
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About Bart Van Es

Bart van Es was born in the Netherlands and is bilingual in English and Dutch. He now lives with his family in England. He is a Professor of English Literature at the University of Oxford and a Fellow of St Catherine's College.
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Rating details

471 ratings
4.17 out of 5 stars
5 43% (203)
4 38% (181)
3 13% (61)
2 4% (18)
1 2% (8)
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