Skip to main content

Tamar by Mal Peet

This one's been sitting on my TBR shelf for awhile now, waiting for me to work my way around to the right mood. When I finally did, I was sucked in by the first line.
In the end, it was her grandfather, William Hyde, who gave the unborn child her name. He was serious about names; he'd had several himself.
One day, out of the blue, William Hyde asks his son to name his daughter Tamar. He explains that when he was a Dutch resistance fighter working for the British during WWII, their code names were taken from rivers in England. His son assumes it was his father's code name and agrees to name her Tamar.

After this brief introduction, the story jumps back in time to follow two young Dutch secret agents, code names Dart and Tamar. The two friends parachute into the occupied Netherlands in the dead of night. Tamar is charged with organizing the fragmented resistance efforts. Dart is his wireless operator. When they arrive, Tamar finds he is based out of the farm where a young woman named Marijke lives. It turns out the two met and fell in love a year ago but never thought they'd see each other again after Tamar was sent back to England. As they rekindle their romance amid the terror and starvation gripping the country, Dart is not so lucky. Based out of an insane asylum, he poses as a doctor, making trip after treacherous trip into town to relay encrypted messages and receive directions from headquarters in England. The events that overtake these two friends combine to create a web of deception and anger that reaches out to cover three generations.

This story is bleak. The focus is on the horrors of war and what they do to the men and women involved, the indelible mark left on their lives long after the guns are silenced and the violence is over. In the WWII chapters, the writing is coolly objective. It is impossible not to sympathize with Dart and Tamar and Marijke, though it is difficult to really feel like you know them. The war obscures everything. However, their story is broken up periodically by excerpts from the future. A future in which William Hyde dies suddenly, leaving a box of strange items to his granddaughter Tamar. Tamar's father disappeared years ago, her grandmother is in a home for the elderly, and her mother knows next to nothing about the family history. With the help of her quirky "cousin" (but not really) Yoyo, Tamar sets out on a journey to the river that shares her name to discover why and what her grandfather left her. These chapters are told in first person and come across a bit warmer than the rest of the tale. They show up more frequently as the novel comes closer to its conclusion and, I admit, I would have liked a few more of these present-day chapters throughout the book. Nevertheless, it is a harrowing and fascinating read. I wanted to understand the characters and their motives. I wanted Tamar to understand. In the end, Mal Peet leaves it up to the reader to determine which of them deserves forgiveness and which of them achieve peace.

Bookgoddess Review
The Guardian Review
New York Times Review


Popular posts from this blog

Angie's 2018 Must Be Mine List

It's time for a clean slate and a brand new list of titles I can't wait to get my hands on. Behold, my most anticipated titles of 2018:

 And no covers on these yet, but I can hardly wait, all the same:
The Comfort Zoneby Sally Thorne
A Court of Frost and Starlightby Sarah J. Maas
Making Upby Lucy Parker
There Will Be Other Summersby Benjamin Alire Saenz
Off the Airby L.H. Cosway
Fall Boys & Dizzy in Paradiseby Jandy Nelson

Which ones are on your list?

Review | Hunted by Meagan Spooner

I'm just going to start off by saying I cannot stop thinking about this book. I finished it weeks ago, but this lovely Beauty and the Beast adaptation will not leave my mind. This is the first book I've really read by Meagan Spooner. I gave These Broken Stars a bit of a go awhile back, but we sort of drifted apart halfway through. Not the case here. The gorgeous cover caught my eye and the early glowing reviews reinforced my conviction. Having finished it, I immediately ran out and purchased copies for a number of the relevant readers in my life. And despite having pushed on and read several books since, Huntedis the one I find my mind and heart returning to over and over again.

Yeva holds a lot of things in. She loves her family—her father, her sisters—and so she sits obediently in the baronessa's chambers. She pretends to make small talk and embroider bits of cloth with the other ladies. She smiles politely at the young man who is said to be courting her (and doesn'…

Angie's Best Books of 2017

Somehow it's New Year's Eve again, and here we are. I don't especially feel like getting into what this bloody year was like and how I thought it couldn't get worse than last year, but then 2017 came and was all . . . ahem. Well, you know the rest. 
Suffice it to say, I feel like my favorite reads of the year reflect what I needed and what all you wonderful writers and readers had and needed to give. Just ten titles this year, you guys. A literal Top Ten, which I don't believe I've ever actually achieved. It is the last day of the year, and I present you with one highly distilled list of impeccable reads.

(in the order in which I read them)
Pretty Faceby Lucy Parker A Season of Daring Greatlyby Ellen Emerson White A Conjuring of Lightby V.E. Schwab Thick as Thievesby Megan Whalen Turner Huntedby Meagan Spooner A Court of Wings and Ruinby Sarah J. Maas No Limitsby Ellie Marney All the Crooked Saintsby Maggie Stiefvater Speak Easy, Speak Loveby McKelle George A Conspiracy…