Set in Holland during the Second World War, author Lena Scholman’s debut novel for adults relates the stories of men and women struggling to survive under Nazi occupation.
Hilde is the 15-year-old daughter of a vegetable grower. Papa’s one purpose in life is to keep Hilde and her older sister Loti safe, a promise he had made to his wife over a decade ago, just before she died. When Hilde protests that Papa shouldn’t give the Nazis their food and must stand up to them instead, Papa tells her, “You know nothing about war, daughter. There’s no resistance without blood.” But Hilde doesn’t agree that they must make the best of things, acquiescing to the enemy’s demands. Instead, she follows the young man she loves by joining the underground resistance movement, endangering her own life and causing an irrevocable rift with the father she deeply loves.
Lady Astrid is fiercely dedicated to her two children and to Soelenkasteel, a castle that has been in her family for centuries and stood the test of time. Astrid longs to ignore the war and the Nazis, but when Soelenkasteel is requisitioned as lodging for the occupiers, she can no longer look the other way. When a mysterious refugee arrives at the castle, Astrid is swept up into events that will change her life forever and irreversibly alter how she views her home and heritage.
Lena Scholman deftly and sensitively explores a period in history when many people lived double lives, taking great risks to save others and experiencing unfathomable horrors. She masterfully explores the moral complexities people faced—“In the beginning, it had all seemed so clear: Right and wrong. Dutch and German. Occupiers and Resistors. Now, everything was murky.” Intriguing, well-developed characters, meticulous research, realistic depictions of faith struggles, profound insights into familial bonds and the events that sever them, and a riveting plot make Between Silk and Wool an emotionally rich and satisfying reading experience. (Carpe Diem Writing House)