Harper Muse; 1st edition (October 18, 2022) Publication date : October 18, 2022
Set in 1941 in the Philippines, three nurses from different backgrounds (a US Army nurse, a US Navy nurse, and a Filipina nurse) become friends. Each author took a character, but honestly you can’t tell. The story is well blended with one voice.
While the circumstances were dire, each nurse ended up being imprisoned by the Japanese in different places and witnessed horrifying things not to mention starvation, there were signs of hope to hold on to. It all seemed very real. Not surprising since the fictional characters were based on real women, the first female POWs.
Each of the women experienced hurt in their previous lives that needed healing. Caring for others while still being held as prisoner delayed their ability and capacity to heal those wounds. After their releases they saw each other briefly but not the three of them together. Their ultimate reunion would have to wait. While no longer the women they were before the war due to their experiences, they still had to deal with the things they had try to avoid by becoming nurses. The way they manage to face what they’d previously avoided is inspiring, and not easily predictable. Nothing is rushed. No artificial happy conclusions, which is what I like about how these authors write their stories. But like I said, there is hope and a satisfying ending.
Historical fiction buffs will enjoy this one. Highly recommended.
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The Ways We Hide features the protagonist Ida Vos, a woman we first meet as a magician, having designed and created illusions for the stage in the early 1940s. This alone is interesting but as we get to know her we learn that she carries with her a sense of loneliness and independence due to bringing raised in an orphanage after her alcoholic father dies. Prior to his death she experienced a trauma that only the young boy, Arie, who suffered it with her understands. She ends up living with his family. As she grows up Arie is her stability and the two of them practice magic tricks together.
Without giving away too much, I’ll tell you that they are separated and then during the war their paths cross again in London. He is in intelligence, and she’s been recruited to help develop tools that can be hidden to help Allied Forces, maps, knives, and all sorts of things a soldier behind enemy lines might need.
Ida ends up pushing herself into a mission that she thinks will help save Arie in Nazi occupied Holland. Nothing ends up as she imagined. Ida is confronted with the horrors of war and she and Arie must save a young girl who lives with a Nazi officer but who has Jewish roots that may soon be discovered. How Ida manages to overcome the trauma from her childhood that still haunts her, danger from being discovered by the Nazis, her natural distrust of strangers that she now must depend upon (the Dutch resistance during WWII was incredible and deserves attention), grief that continues to find her, together make for a thrilling tale that once I got halfway through the book kept me intrigued as though I watched it unfold on a screen.
The author does a superb job with descriptions and characterizations. Her notes at the end are not to be missed as so much is explained and examined. An incredible amount of research was put into this novel and it shines because of that effort. I thoroughly enjoyed this one and recommend it to all who enjoy historical fiction.
I received an advance complimentary copy of the novel from the publisher through NetGalley without obligation of any review.