Sherri Stewart brings a wealth of research to her novels, and I’m especially excited to read about the Netherlands in World War II. She’s offering an e-book giveaway to one commenter this week. Here are some pics of the country she loves–and now, sit back and enjoy more about her book and the Netherlands.
What I love and hate about the setting of my book, A Song for Her Enemies
By Sherri Stewart
My book mostly takes place in Haarlem in the Netherlands—the original Haarlem—not the one near Manhattan. The story develops between the fall of 1943 and the end of 1948, but most of it occurs over the span of one year.
Here is a bit about the plot: After Nazi soldiers close the opera and destroy Tamar Kaplan’s dream of becoming a professional singer, she joins the Dutch Resistance, her fair coloring concealing her Jewish heritage. Tamar partners with Dr. Daniel Feldman, and they risk their lives to help escaping refugees. When they are forced to flee themselves, violinist Neelie Visser takes them into hiding.
Tamar’s love for Daniel flowers in hardship, but she struggles with the paradox that a loving God would allow the atrocities around her. When Tamar resists the advances of a Third Reich officer, he exacts his revenge by betraying the secrets hidden behind the walls of Neelie’s house. From a prison hospital to a Nazi celebration to a concentration camp, will the three of them survive to tell the world the secrets behind barbed wire?
A Song for Her Enemies is the story of a talented young opera singer and the bittersweet love that grows amid the tyranny and fear of World War II. Set against the backdrop of neighbors willing to risk their lives in the German-occupied, war-torn Netherlands, A Song for Her Enemiesis an inspiring and beautiful novel celebrating the resilience of the human spirit and the determination of Christians in the face of persecution. It is a novel for everyone seeking to understand the pain of the past and be inspired to embrace hope.
My son Joshua and I visited the Netherlands in September 2019, just a few months before COVID-19 kept us isolated in our house. And we fell in love with the country. Haarlem is a short train trip from Amsterdam and a perfect place to set up camp. We stayed a block from the center market place, in the shadow of St. Bavo’s cathedral.
I love the ways Nederlanders embrace life. During the day, the sidewalks are full of people—shoppers stopping to browse and sit in outdoor cafés. This is true for nighttime cafés as well. Weather doesn’t stop them. Nederlanders love to sit and talk with their friends. Yet they are very fit. A plethora of bicyclists zoom by to the point that it is dangerous to step out in the street for fear of being run over by a bike! Age doesn’t matter. Quantity of bodies on a single bike doesn’t matter. Weather or lack of light doesn’t matter. Be careful stepping over the red line!
Another blessing in the Netherlands is the fact that everyone seems to speak English. In fact, it was rare to see Dutch menus. I asked the owner of creperie why there wasn’t a word of Dutch in the restaurant. He said that most of their customers hailed from England, so there was no need for the native language. Really? Can you imagine that ever happening in our fair country?
Having counted the many blessings of the Netherlands, there is something about the country that breaks my heart—in a word, it is tolerance. This is also true for most of Europe. Now tolerance is a mighty important value—do not get me wrong. I value tolerance, but I do not worship it.
This is what I see in the Netherlands and the rest of Europe and creeping into the US. People have extended tolerance to the point that there are absolutely no absolutes. Everything is right, whether it was considered wrong at one time. In the process of creating a tolerant society, they’ve wiped out faith in God because God has set up standards that some would deem intolerant. So God has to go. In other words, God is not tolerated. Ironic, huh? And the beautiful old cathedrals sit empty.
There are so many wonderful things about this beautiful post card of a country with its canals and tall houses, its gouda cheese and pancakes, its windmills and tulips. Pray for the Netherlands that its people will find a balance between tolerance and the absolutes that God has set. There is a balance between the two.
Sherri Stewart loves a clean novel, sprinkled with romance and a strong message that challenges her faith. She spends her working hours with books—either editing others’ manuscripts or writing her own. Her passion is traveling to the settings of her books, sampling the food, and visiting the sites. She loves the Netherlands, and she’s still learning Dutch, although she doesn’t need to since everyone seems to speak perfect English. A recent widow, Sherri lives in the Orlando area with her lazy dog, Lily, and her son, Joshua, who can fix anything. She shares recipes, tidbits of the book’s locations, and pix in her newsletter. Subscribe at http://eepurl.com/gZ-mv9