Cover image for The twins
The twins
Loo, Tessa de.
Personal Author:
Uniform Title:
Tweeling. English
Publication Information:
New York : Soho Press, [2000]

Physical Description:
352 pages ; 24 cm
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Twins who were orphaned at six and sent to live with different relatives on opposite sides during World War II are reunited by chance seventy years later at a Belgian health resort. This international bestseller, a powerful novel, is both a European allegory and a poignant story of family ties.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Twin sisters in prewar Germany are separated when their parents die. Anna, the stronger, is taken in by relatives on a farm in Germany; Lotte, consumptive like their father, is adopted by a Dutch branch of the family. At this point, their lives undergo an inevitable and irreversible change. After nearly 70 years, they meet by chance at a health resort where Anna, hoping for some understanding and reconciliation, forces Lotte to listen to her story and, in turn, tell her own. Their vastly different upbringing and the hardships of the war dominate their recollections, but more than anything, the barrier of having been on opposite sides of a war has made Lotte firm in her opposition to reconciliation. Their stories are those of hunger and fear and the daily ordeal of civilians; but the lack of gory battle scenes makes the war no less horrific, and in fact makes the experience very personal to the reader. This novel was enormously popular in its original Dutch and should fare well in this excellent translation. --Danise Hoover

Publisher's Weekly Review

Historical and human perspectives clash in this cool, compassionate psychological novel centered around the 1990 chance meeting of two elderly women at Spa, the Belgian health resort. Each woman has come for the famously curative waters. But not by chance does each suffer from debilitating arthritis. The women are twins, separated in childhood by the death of their parents. Anna stays in their native Germany, while Lotte is taken in by relatives in the Netherlands. Consequently, they lose touch with each other and live through the rise of Hitler, the Second World War and the postwar era from opposed positions. The clanking machinery of young Dutch novelist de Loo's premise is at first off-putting, yet in the end she offers a novel of considerable substanceÄone that is historically acute and richly imaginative. Lotte despises the Germans and feels disconnected from them, believing that in her sister's place she would have acted differently, since her husband was a Dutch Jew. Anna, meanwhile, though certainly a good woman who harbors only feelings of contempt for the Nazis, married an SS officer from Vienna. What was the degree of her complicity in Nazi horrors? Both sisters lost their husbands in the war, one to random Allied bombing, the other to an Austrian concentration camp. The narrative unfolds through a series of often thorny conversations, as the sisters probe these and other points of contention. De Loo artfully weaves two fully developed fictional personalities into an expertly realized historical background. Overarching questions of guilt and complicity, of good and bad luck, remain unresolved, but the novel subtly illuminates the ambiguities of national identity and family love. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Originally published in the Netherlands in 1993, De Loo!s first novel to be translated into English explores the enmity that existed between Germans and the rest of Europe after World War II. This moving tale addresses notions of guilt and responsibility in a sensitive, thought-provoking manner, without exonerating or condemning. Twins Anna and Lotte Bamberg are born in Cologne but orphaned and separated when they are five. While Lotte is taken in by Dutch relatives, Anna is raised by her grandfather in rural poverty. With the advent of war, their lives take very different turns: Lotte!s family hides an assortment of refugees, while Anna finds love with a soldier of the Reich. Besides two unsuccessful brief meetings, they have no contact until a chance encounter in the Belgian resort town of Spa about 40 years after the war. Anna is eager to reestablish their relationship, yet Lotte is more reluctant. As she gradually comes to understand that not all is black and white, she is able to find her sister again. While some may sense (and resent) an apologist tone to the novel, readers are asked to look deeply into themselves and others before making blanket judgments. Highly recommended for academic and public libraries."David W. Henderson, Eckerd Coll. Lib., St. Petersburg, FL (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.