Even I, who had resisted kicking and screaming, had to admit defeat. Why would love be impressed by the protests of a simple bookseller?
Jakoba has had enough. It is 1999 and she looks back on her life that began at the start of the century. Her arrival was unexpected, but joyfully welcomed, by her middle-aged parents. In a time where a middle-class girl has one destiny, namely to become a wife and mother, Jakoba is allowed to start working at a bookshop. Books become one of the loves of her life. Later she will inherit the shop.
She values friendship, but romance has no meaning for her. She values her independence too much and knows all too well what price women pay for being married.
It is German army photographer Armin who will change the course of her life. Jakoba is forty when she meets him. Armin is almost thirty, and Germany has occupied Holland. It does not matter. For him, she’s the one, and despite her hesitation both because of the war and because she can’t understand what this handsome man sees in her—a plain woman—she has to admit her feelings for him.
Such love has consequences for both of them that will reach far beyond the war and in ways Jakoba could never have imagined.
The Bookshop is available at
A small taste
He kept visiting me, my photographer, as if he were not able to see the exit I kept wide open for him. I practically sent him away. Look, you and I don’t belong together. A middle-aged woman and a younger man? That is wrong. You are my enemy. I am a woman of the written word and you a man of the visual arts. Be sensible and accept reality.
He didn’t listen. He told me about Berlin while the fingers of his left hand lazily cupped a breast through the fabric of my nightgown and caressed the nipple. He mixed more and more Dutch words through his German conversations and he insisted I correct his pronunciation. He touched every part of my body and asked for their names in Dutch. “Talk your language to me,” he urged me. He even bought a dictionary—to what use, when my German was more than reasonable and he and his compatriots were sure to leave one day? He kissed me and I stopped talking about it.