The Nazis have control of the Netherlands but they cannot stop the spirit of humanity as the Dutch community work together to protect Jews and outcasts. A village is built in the woods but the hidden people continue to rely on their friends for survival…
The Hidden Village is an historical novel set in the 1940s. It is based on real life events from the war and I feel that the author has researched the plot in depth.
Jan, a boy of 11, is the main character, determined to prove himself as his childhood swiftly ends under Nazi occupation. The narration style is quite simple, almost replicating the youthful simplicity of the main characters.
The brutality of the Nazis is understated and insidious for the majority of the book, with little violence. However, the threat of danger overshadows all of the characters until the ending where it becomes more overt and unpleasant. I found that the end of the book was rather abrupt, suddenly skipping on 20 years and still not fully resolving some plot threads in my opinion.
I enjoyed the sense of community and family which are powerful themes through the book. Friendships and the bravery needed to protect loved ones, a combined purpose and the endurability of human nature also permeate across the plot.
The Hidden Village is an enjoyable novel, well researched and subtly emotive. I have previously reviewed The Girl Across The Wire Fence by Imogen Matthews.
The Hidden Village: An absolutely gripping and emotional World War II historical novel (Wartime Holland Book 1) by Imogen Matthews
A Nazi soldier slams his rifle into her father’s head. From her hiding place, Sofie stifles a scream as tears roll down her face. Suddenly she can’t take it any more. ‘Stop, stop!’ she sobs, rushing out and pushing the soldier away. And then freezes, as he snarls and whips the gun round to point at her…
Holland, 1943: the Nazis are in occupation. German soldiers patrol the streets, and each week more families disappear without trace, never to be seen again. So when armed soldiers storm Sofie’s house and threaten her father at gunpoint, she knows their time – and luck – has run out.
Fleeing in the middle of the night to hide in a neighbour’s secret attic, the constant threat of a German raid means they can’t stay long. So Sofie’s parents make the heart-rending decision to send their daughter away. Concealed in the woods is a secret village, built by the town as a haven for Jewish families like Sofie’s. Remote, cold and bleak, yet filled with the hopeful laughter of children playing, it is the one place Sofie has the chance to live.
But rumours of the hidden village have been swirling, and the Nazis are determined to find it. As soldiers patrol the woods in ever-greater numbers, snow cuts the villagers off from the outside world and starvation sets in. Sofie knows what she must do, even though it means putting herself in danger. And when the worst happens, Sofie is faced with a terrible decision – save the village, or save herself…
An absolutely heart-breaking and gripping WWII historical novel based on the true story of an entire town who put themselves in danger to keep strangers safe. What happens will restore your faith in humanity. Fans of Fiona Valpy, The Tattooist of Auschwitz and The Choice will never forget this incredibly moving tale and the real-life heroes who inspired it.
Imogen Matthews writes novels based on true stories about the Netherlands during the German occupation in World War 2. Some stories she discovered by chance, others are based on her Dutch mother’s own experiences of hardship and survival during the Hunger Winter of 1944-45.
Her first novel, The Hidden Village, is set in the Veluwe woods, a beautiful part of Holland that Imogen has visited frequently over the past 30 years. It was in these woods that she discovered the story of the real hidden village which provided shelter in underground huts for Jews during WW2. Imogen retells the story of the hidden village with characters drawn from real life and from her imagination.
Within weeks of publication in 2017, The Hidden Village became an international bestseller, ranking at the top of a number Amazon’s most-read book lists.
Following on from The Hidden Village comes Hidden in the Shadows, which has the pace of a thriller yet is also a love story. It tells the story about two young people who are brutally torn apart and must find a way to be together against all odds.
Imogen’s third WW2 novel, The Girl Across the Wire Fence, is set in Amersfoort, Netherlands, and is based on the unforgettable tale of two young lovers who risked everything to keep hope alive in the very depths of hell – the little known Dutch concentration camp called Kamp Amersfoort.
Imogen’s WW2 novels are published by Bookouture, a digital imprint of Hachette.