Welcome to today’s stop on the blog tour for Hidden in the Shadows by Imogen Matthews, the second in the author’s ‘Untold WW2 Stories’ series and the sequel to The Hidden Village. (By the way, if you haven’t read The Hidden Village and think you might want to, I’d recommend skipping the About the Book section of this post as the blurb mentions key events in the earlier book.)
My thanks to Anne at Random Things Tours for inviting me to participate in the tour and to Amsterdam Publishers for my digital copy of the book. You can read my review of Hidden in the Shadows below.
About the Book
Escape from the hidden village is just the beginning…
September 1944: The hidden village is in ruins. Stormed by the Nazis. Several are dead and dozens flee for their lives. Instead of leading survivors to safety, Wouter panics and abandons Laura, the love of his life. He has no choice but to keep running from the enemy who want to hunt him down.
Laura must also stay hidden as she is Jewish. Moving from one safe house to another, she is concealed in attics and cellars. The threat of discovery is always close at hand.
On the run with no end in sight, the two young people despair of ever seeing each other again. As cold sweeps in signalling the start of the Hunger Winter, time is running out. Wouter’s search now becomes a battle for survival.
Where can Laura be? Will they ever be reunited?
Format: Paperback, ebook (286 pages) Publisher: Amsterdam Publishers
Publication date: 1st December 2019 Genre: Historical Fiction
Find Hidden in the Shadows on Goodreads
In my recent review of The Hidden Village, I commented that its ending left me with unanswered questions about some of the characters and what happened next. It seems the author felt the same as, in the introduction to Hidden in the Shadows, Imogen writes, “Sometimes, a story doesn’t end on the last page of the book. Sometimes, there’s another story still waiting to be told”.
The story of ‘what happened next’ is revealed in chapters told from the points of view of Wouter, Laura, and occasionally Else (surely everyone’s favourite tante from the first book and who played such an important role in maintaining the hidden village). Perhaps because Laura’s story is written in the first person (whereas Wouter’s is in the third person) I found myself more engaged in her experiences. I have to say, however, that even Laura seemed at times overly preoccupied with her predicament – ‘passed around like some unwanted baggage’ as she describes it – rather than considering what a risk the people sheltering her and others like her were running.
For me, by far the most compelling aspect of the book was not so much the romance between Laura and Wouter, but the details about the network of people involved in transporting and offering shelter to those in need. It was fascinating to read about the ingenious hiding places and inspiring to witness people’s willingness to put themselves at risk and share their scarce resources with complete strangers. I also thought it was clever of the author to introduce characters such as Emil and Friedrich to demonstrate there were Germans, even amongst those forced to serve in the army, who were just as keen as the population of the countries they had overrun for the war to end.
Do Wouter and Laura find each other? Will it be ‘happily ever after’? Was forester Henk hero or villain? You’ll have to read the book to find out.
Hidden in the Shadows is described by the publishers as “an unforgettable story of bravery and love, inspired by historical events” and, like The Hidden Village, it certainly sheds a light on the courage, ingenuity and community spirit that helped people like Laura and Wouter escape the clutches of the Nazis. If you’d like to find out more about how Imogen came to write The Hidden Village, check out this guest post from July 2017 hosted by Sonia at A Lover of Books.
In three words: Dramatic, authentic, immersive
Try something similar: War Girl Ursula by Marion Kummerow
About the Author
Imogen Matthews is English and lives in the beautiful University town of Oxford. Before she wrote The Hidden Village, she published two romantic fiction e-novels under her pen name, Alex Johnson. The Hidden Village is published by Amsterdam Publishers, based in the Netherlands.
Imogen has strong connections with the Netherlands. Born in Rijswijk to a Dutch mother and English father, the family moved to England when Imogen was very young. Every year since 1990, Imogen has been on family holidays to Nunspeet on the edge of the Veluwe woods. It was here that she discovered the story of the hidden village, and together with her mother’s vivid stories of life in WW2 Holland, she was inspired to write her novel.