Saturday, November 2, 2013

Snow on the Tulips by Liz Tolsma

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Obtained from: Netgalley
Read: October 30, 2013

In a time of unprecedented darkness and fear, Cornelia must decide if saving a stranger’s life is worth risking her own. In the twilight of the Nazi occupation of The Netherlands, the Germans have taken everything Cornelia had to give, even what was most precious to her. Now Gerrit Laninga—a man who puts God and country above all else—arrives at her house, needing help. She is terrified for herself and terrified for her family, but most of all, terrified of the pain she might feel again if she allows herself to love Gerrit. Her hope is to be free from her paralyzing fear. Gerrit is a known and hunted Dutch Resistance member. When he comes to Cornelia’s home for shelter, he’s drawn to her strength and kindness. When he asks her to contact the local Resistance on his behalf, she refuses. Gerrit is determined to find a way to continue his underground work without putting Cornelia or her family in harm’s way. When things start to unravel and Gerrit’s life depends on her actions, she must summon her courage and learn to depend on the perfect love that drives out all fear. But will her new love be snatched away before it has a chance to bloom?

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WWII propaganda poster
Most reviewers have a niche and WWII fiction is mine so it's really no surprise that I jumped when offered the chance to read Liz Tolsma's Snow on the Tulips. Set during the German occupation of the Netherlands, the book should have been a slam dunk which is why I am a little surprised at my halfhearted reaction to it.

Inspired by family history, I really liked the basic premise of this story. The inherent truth in the circumstances each character faced made Snow on the Tulips a very relatable and down to earth piece. Stark and at times bleak, Tolsma doesn't shy away from the grim realities of life under occupation and I found her candor an admirable aspect of her work.

Now if I found the subject matter so great, why am I going with only three stars? Despite my appreciation for the history Tolsma incorporated into this piece and the realistic character portraits she created, I had a lot of trouble getting into the story. There a moments of action, but most of the book is emotionally driven and though I can respect what the author was getting at, I found the relative lack of momentum difficult to get lost in. 

The relationship between Cornelia and Gerrit presented a second hurdle for me. Tolsma really delves into their individual struggles to open themselves to one another after being burned by loss and betrayal, but I don't feel their relationship with one another read as strongly as the ones that had come before. I expect that kind of contrast author to author, but to see it in single volume was a bit of a letdown. 

One last note for those secular readers who dabble in inspired lit. Snow on the Tulips is Christian fiction and though the blurb downplays the content, the plot is interwoven with moderate to strong religious themes, similar to the work of Tricia Goyer and Tracie Peterson. Personally, I don't care one way or the other, but if this is the kind of thing that prevents your enjoyment of a story, consider this fair warning and please, don't take out your frustrations out of Tolsma or her work. 

A solid debut, Snow on the Tulips is a heartwarming wartime romance, sure to appeal to fans of A Distant Melody and While We're Far Apart.

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“Maybe revenge, maybe not. I am asking you to quit acting like a tulip covered in snow. Don’t hide in this house until the Allies free you. They may not come for a while.”
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