Monday, April 3, 2023

The Lioness of Leiden by Robert Loewen

How do you fight the Nazis right under their noses? With cunning and courage.

When the Germans invade the Netherlands, Leiden University student Hetty’s boyfriend goes missing. But she has little time to grieve when she volunteers as a courier for the Dutch resistance, joined by her roommate, the beautiful Mimi, and seventeen-year-old Maria, the daughter of a slain resistance fighter. At great personal risk, the three women carry documents, secret messages, and cash to protect Jews, downed pilots, and others hiding from the Nazis.

During five years of war, Hetty is challenged by a gauntlet of spies and betrayal. She heroically fights back as she and her friends accept increasingly dangerous assignments. All the while, Hetty worries about her family. She tries to forbid her younger brother from volunteering for combat in the resistance and argues with her father about becoming too cozy with the Nazis.

As the Gestapo closes in, can Hetty and her family and friends make it through the war, free to live and love again?

Inspired by true events, Robert Loewen’s debut novel pays tribute to the heroism of his mother-in-law, who served as a courier in the Dutch resistance during World War II.

Kindle, 276 pages
Expected publication April 4, 2023
by Greenleaf Book Group
4/5 stars

I was attracted to this book because of the location, The Hague in the Netherlands, is where my parents grew up and lived during the war.

The author does not hold back as he describes some of the atrocities the Dutch endured as the Nazis endeavoured to take over. However, this book shows they did not take this invasion lightly and fought back. 

There is a lot of people to keep track of, especially at the beginning, even though I had wished I had kept notes it didn't take long to become absorbed. The Lioness of Leiden is a well researched, raw story centring around Hetty as she worked with the resistance.  She endured terrible losses, heartache, and danger. There are a number of different POVs which gave a vivid picture.   The only thing I found lacking was a timeline to indict the progression of time.

The author notes at the end made this book all the more compelling with a final chapter that was emotional and a fitting end.  Given this book is loosely based on the author's mother-in-law made the story all the more interesting and sad for the things her family lived through.

My thanks to Greenleaf Book Group (via Netgalley) for a digital arc in exchange for a honest review.

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