The Cut Out Girl: Book summary and reviews of The Cut Out Girl by Bart van Es

The Cut Out Girl

A Story of War and Family, Lost and Found

by Bart van Es

The Cut Out Girl by Bart van Es X
The Cut Out Girl by Bart van Es
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' rating:

     Not Yet Rated
  • Published in USA  Aug 2018
    304 pages
    Genre: Biography/Memoir

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this book

Book Summary

The extraordinary true story of a young Jewish girl in Holland during World War II, who hides from the Nazis in the homes of an underground network of foster families, one of them the author's grandparents.

Bart van Es left Holland for England many years ago, but one story from his Dutch childhood never left him. It was a mystery of sorts: a young Jewish girl named Lientje had been taken in during the war by relatives and hidden from the Nazis, handed over by her parents, who understood the danger they were in all too well. The girl had been raised by her foster family as one of their own, but then, well after the war, there was a falling out, and they were no longer in touch. What was the girl's side of the story, Bart wondered? What really happened during the war, and after?

So began an investigation that would consume Bart van Es's life, and change it. After some sleuthing, he learned that Lientje was now in her 80s and living in Amsterdam. Somewhat reluctantly, she agreed to meet him, and eventually they struck up a remarkable friendship, even a partnership. The Cut Out Girl braids together a powerful recreation of that intensely harrowing childhood story of Lientje's with the present-day account of Bart's efforts to piece that story together, including bringing some old ghosts back into the light.

It is a story rich with contradictions. There is great bravery and generosity--first Lientje's parents, giving up their beloved daughter, and then the Dutch families who face great danger from the Nazi occupation for taking Lientje and other Jewish children in. And there are more mundane sacrifices a family under brutal occupation must make to provide for even the family they already have. But tidy Holland also must face a darker truth, namely that it was more cooperative in rounding up its Jews for the Nazis than any other Western European country; that is part of Lientje's story too. Her time in hiding was made much more terrifying by the energetic efforts of the local Dutch authorities, zealous accomplices in the mission of sending every Jew, man, woman and child, East to their extermination. And Lientje was not always particularly well treated, and sometimes, Bart learned, she was very badly treated indeed.

The Cut Out Girl is an astonishment, a deeply moving reckoning with a young girl's struggle for survival during war, a story about the powerful love of foster families but also the powerful challenges, and about the ways our most painful experiences define us but also can be redefined, on a more honest level, even many years after the fact. A triumph of subtlety, decency and unflinching observation, The Cut Out Girl is a triumphant marriage of many keys of writing, ultimately blending them into an extraordinary new harmony, and a deeper truth.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Book Awards

  • award image Costa Book Awards, 2018

Reviews

Media Reviews

"A nuanced, moving, and unusual 'hidden child' account." - Publishers Weekly

"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

"In this graceful memoir, van Es artfully intertwines two narrative threads, telling Lien's story and his own, as he struggles to discover the specific reasons for the breach - and to heal it. He bridges the complexities of his account with writing that is fluid and clear, and readers will find themselves swept along on his journey." - Forward

"The narration of the war years has a novelistic feel ... [Lien's] voice and the story of her survival, not just of the war but also of the decades after­ward, come through clearly." - Bookpage

"Quite 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. The surviving photographs provide an intimacy - bring these families to life - as does the author's determined concern." - Penelope Lively, winner of the Man Booker Prize
 
"Luminous, elegant, haunting – I read it straight through." - Philippe Sands, author of East West Street: On the Origins of Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity

"With painstaking research and impeccable prose, Van Es has crafted 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

This information about The Cut Out Girl shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Author Information

Bart van Es

Bart van Es is a Professor of English Literature at the University of Oxford and a Fellow of St. Catherine's College. He is the author of Spenser's Forms of History, Shakespeare in Company, and Shakespeare's Comedies. He was born in the Netherlands and now lives with his family in England.

More Author Information

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

More Recommendations

Readers Also Browsed . . .

more biography/memoir...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Join BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten.

Find out more


Today's Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: The Women of Troy
    The Women of Troy
    by Pat Barker
    Set in the liminal days following the Trojan War, The Women of Troy follows Briseis, who the reader ...
  • Book Jacket: The Magician
    The Magician
    by Colm Toibin
    Thomas Mann — the subject of this biographical novel by Colm Tóibín — is ...
  • Book Jacket: Cloud Cuckoo Land
    Cloud Cuckoo Land
    by Anthony Doerr
    Anthony Doerr's Cloud Cuckoo Land may be even more remarkable than his Pulitzer-prize winning work ...
  • Book Jacket: The Turnout
    The Turnout
    by Megan Abbott
    'We grew up together,' Dara finally repeated. But Marie only looked at her and said quietly, '...

Book Club Discussion
Book Jacket
Morningside Heights
by Joshua Henkin
A tender and big-hearted novel about love in the face of loss, from the award-winning author of The World Without You.

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Flesh & Blood
    by N. West Moss

    This beautifully written memoir offers insight, understanding, and joy.

Win This Book!
Win Sisters of the Great War

Sisters of the Great War by Suzanne Feldman

A powerful novel of two unconventional American sisters who volunteer at the front during World War I.

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

L Said, S M

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.