Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Author: Jan de Hartog

One day I was watching TCM with my mother and this movie came on, "Lisa," about a Holocaust survivor whose burning desire is to get to Palestine, and a Dutch policeman who helps her achieve her dream. 

The movie stayed in my head for a few days, so I googled it to find more information about it. It was based on a novel called The Inspector by Jan de Hartog.
As I read on, I was touched by the knowledge that Hartog's family hid Jews during the war. Despite my principles, I decided to take out one of his novels. 

Why is it against all I hold dear? 

I don't do World War novels. My usual cut-off date for historical fiction is around 1900, before half the world population died. There is something futilely depressing about the Great War, and as for World War II, it cuts too close to home. I can't bear to read about survivors, as a grandchild of them myself. 

What I was pleasantly surprised by is that even though Distant Shore takes place most firmly during the war years, it was hysterically funny. Jan de Hartog is a riot. While he does delve into his anti-violence beliefs (he was a Quaker) more graphically in The Captain, I was cracking up in public reading the sequel, The Commodore. I can count how many books have made me laugh out loud on one hand.

You make me laugh, I love you. 

Not only is de Hartog a riot, his prose is quite exquisite. Funny and poetic? He's won my heart. 

On to The Centurion!   

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