Jennifer S. Alderson's Blog - Posts Tagged "amsterdam"

Press Release: The Lover's Portrait now available as Pre-Order

*** Press Release ***



AMSTERDAM, THE NETHERLANDS, APRIL 21, 2016 – Jennifer S. Alderson announces the release of her second novel, The Lover's Portrait: An Art Mystery, on June 24, 2016 in both print and eBook format. It is now available as pre-order on Amazon, Apple iBooks, Kobo Books and Barnes and Noble. This amateur sleuth mystery describes the plight of homosexuals and Jewish artists in Europe during World War II, as well as the complexities inherent to the restitution of artwork stolen by the Nazis in the 1930s and 1940s.

Set in the Netherlands, The Lover’s Portrait is the contemporary story of American art history student Zelda Richardson, who finds clues to the whereabouts of a collection of masterpieces hidden somewhere in Amsterdam, secreted away in 1942 by a homosexual art dealer who’d rather die than turn his collection over to his Nazi blackmailer. Her discoveries make her a target of someone willing to steal – and even kill – to find the lost paintings. As the list of suspects grows, Zelda realizes she has to track down the lost collection and unmask a killer if she wants to survive.

The Lover’s Portrait: An Art Mystery draws on the author’s experiences gained while studying art history in the Netherlands and working for several Dutch museums. Before moving to Amsterdam twelve years ago, Jennifer S. Alderson worked as a journalist and website developer in Seattle, Washington.

Jennifer is also the author of Down and Out in Kathmandu: Adventures in Backpacking. Both books are part of an on-going stand-alone series following the adventures of traveler and culture lover, Zelda Richardson.

To obtain a review copy of The Lover’s Portrait or to book presentations, media appearances, interviews, or book-signings, contact the author via Cover art and author photographs are available at

Title: The Lover’s Portrait: An Art Mystery
Author: Jennifer S. Alderson
Publisher: Traveling Life Press, Amsterdam
Page Count: 263
Binding: Paperback (6x9), perfect bound
Mystery, Thriller & Suspense/Mystery
Mystery, Thriller & Suspense/Amateur Sleuth
Mystery, Thriller & Suspense/International Mystery & Crime
Price: $10.99 (Paperback) $3.99 (eBook)
ISBN-10 number: 1523489170
ISBN-13 number: 978-1523489176
Publication Date: June 24, 2016
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Interesting & obscure WWII references

My second book, The Lover's Portrait: An Art Mystery is an amateur sleuth mystery describing the plight of homosexuals and Jewish artists in Europe during World War II, as well as the complexities inherent to the restitution of artwork stolen by the Nazis in the 1930s and 1940s. Before writing it, I read a number of very interesting and somewhat obscure reference books and articles to help me better understand this complex period in European history. I've seen several Goodreads threads looking for information about different aspects of WWII and thought this list may help others.

I've copied an excerpt from the Acknowledgements into this blog post. By the way, I'm also running a Goodreads giveaway for two signed proof copies of The Lover's Portrait right now (ends June 20th).

**note: this is from the almost finalized manuscript, there could still be spelling errors present!

Acknowledgements (The Lover's Portrait):
All of the books, records and historical documents I used as reference material while writing The Lover’s Portrait can be found at one of these fine intuitions: the library of the Dutch Resistance Museum; the archives of the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam; the Rijksmuseum’s Research Library and Print Room; the archives of NIOD: Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies; the Amsterdam City Archives; the National Library of the Netherlands; the Jewish Historical Museum’s library; the Hollandse Stadschowburg: National Holocaust Memorial; the (now disbanded) library of KIT Tropenmuseum; and the University of Amsterdam’s libraries and Special Collections. I am deeply grateful to the knowledgeable staff of all of these museums, archives and libraries for so graciously helping a young American learn more about this incredibly complex period in European history.

I am particularly indebted to archivist Peter Kroesen of the Amsterdam City Archives for taking time early on in this project to share many interesting facts and obscure stories about Amsterdam in the 1930s and 1940s, such as the existence of the gay-friendly bar Café ’t Mandje, real-life escape routes to Switzerland organized by various resistance groups, and the confiscation of occupied homes located around Museumplein.

Three books were crucial in providing insight into the Dutch art market and standard practices of European art dealers during the 1930s and 1940s: De Nederlandse kunstmarkt 1940-1945 by Jeroen Euwe, Roofkunst - De zaak Goudstikker by Pieter den Hollander and Kunsthandel in Nederland 1940-1945 by Adriaan Venema. Two research papers, written in 1985 by then-bachelor student Rob Lambers, were immensely useful resources in understanding the kinds of exhibitions Dutch museums and galleries presented during the war, as well as how artists’ collectives functioned: Het Stedelijk Museum te Amsterdam tijdens de Tweede Wereldoorlog and Musea en Kunstenaarsverenigingen tijdens de jaren 1940-1945 in Nederland.

The catalogue for the exhibition Westphaalsch-Nederrijnsche Kunst (August 2, 1941 - September 14, 1941) – initiated by Reich Commissioner Arthur Seyss-Inquart, organized by the Nederlandse-Duitse Kultuurgemeenschap and held in the Rijksmuseum – explains why Hitler’s Nazi Regime considered Dutch citizens to be their cultural and linguistic ‘brothers’.

The fictitious Stolen Objects research project and associated restitution process described in this book are based on the actual Herkomst Gezocht (Origins Unknown) project led by the Ekkart Committee. Their reports, published between 1999 and 2004, describe in explicit detail their research into thousands of unclaimed objects still in the care of the Dutch government and their efforts to track down potential claimants through international advertising campaigns and the aforementioned exhibition, Looted, but from whom?. The Ekkart Committee’s reports and findings, as well as a description of the workings of the actual Restitution Committee, are available online in English via Their – dare I say – visually unappealing collection database can be found at, though a new version of the site is scheduled to launch in June 2016, coincidentally the same month this book is published.

There are countless books written about what Adolf Hitler considered to be degenerate art, as well as his plan to create a new mega-museum in Linz by stealing artwork he admired from private citizens, art dealers and cultural institutions across Europe. I found these four books to be the most useful in understanding Hitler’s motivations and the tactics used to realize his ‘dream’: The Lost Museum: The Nazi Conspiracy to Steal the World's Greatest Works of Art by Hector Feliciano, The Linz File: Hitler's Plunder Of Europe's Art by Charles De Jaeger, Museums and the Holocaust: Law, Principles and Practice by Norman Palmer, and The Rape of Art: The story of Hitler’s Plunder of the Great Masterpieces of Europe by David Roxan and Ken Wanstall.

In contrast, there is very little written about the plight of homosexuals in the Netherlands during World War Two. Luckily I found two books containing a wealth of information which enabled me to better understand the challenges a prominent citizen and closeted homosexual, such as the fictional Arjan van Heemsvliet, would have faced. These two indispensable resources are Het vervolgen van homosexuelen voor, tijdens en na de tweede wereldoorlog (1911-heden), an essay bundle published by the Federation of Dutch Associations for Integration of Homosexuality (COC) in 1985; and the book Doodgeslagen, Doodgezwegen: Vervolging van Homosexuelen door het Nazi-Regime 1933-1945 by Klaus Müller. To give my English readers a better idea of their tone, the titles of these two tomes can be translated as The persecution of homosexuals before, during and after the Second World War (1911-present) and Beaten to Death, Silenced: Persecution of Homosexuals by the Nazi-Regime 1933-1945.

In 1995 the exhibition Rebel, Mijn Hart: Kunstenaars 1940-1945, held in the Nieuwe Kerk in Amsterdam, commemorated Dutch artists who were killed during the Second World War. The exhibition catalogue, written by Sem Dresden and Max Nord, explains how Jewish artists were affected by the rise of National Socialism in the 1930s, the ever-stricter rules created by the Nazi’s Ministry of Culture, and wide-spread censorship. It also includes information about many of these forgotten artists’ work and personal lives. This excellent resource helped me to understand the ordeals my fictitious character, the up-and-coming Jewish artist Lex Wederstein, would have faced.

There is a wide range of literature available which recounts life in the Netherlands, and in particular Amsterdam, during the Second World War. I relied most heavily on three publications when describing the city in war-time: Kroniek van Amsterdam 1940-1945, published in 1948 by the Genootschap Amstelodamum and compiled by J.F.M. den Boer and Mej. S. Duparc; Ooggetuigen van de Tweede Wereldoorlog in meer dan honderd reportages, complied by Connie Kristel and Hinke Piersma; and De bezette stad: Plattegrond van Amsterdam 1940-1945 by Bianca Stigter. The image banks of the Amsterdam City Archives ( and NIOD ( were also extremely useful resources when visualizing this era.
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Happy vacation reading everyone!

Hello everyone! I’m about to head off on a travel adventure / family reunion, and just wanted to THANK all of the new readers who’ve found my second novel, The Lover's Portrait: An Art Mystery. Even in its third week of release, it’s still topping the Art Mystery lists on Amazon UK, USA, Germany, and the Netherlands (bedankt!), as well as Kobo and Barnes & Noble! I'm also thrilled to see two fantastic reviews on Goodreads, one on and one on iBooks already -- amazing! I’m grateful to all of you for taking a chance on a new author, and letting everyone know what you think of it!!

I’m also happy to announce that my book is being supported by Pink Point Amsterdam, the world’s first gay & lesbian (LGBTI) tourist kiosk, located in the heart of Amsterdam next to the Westerkerk. To find out more information, see the pinned link on my Facebook page: .

Additionally, two lovely stores in Amsterdam are already stocking my second novel, Boekhandel Vrolijk (Gay and Lesbian book store) and Caffe il Momento (Specialty coffee and gifts). More about them (and direct links) on my website:

It’s even available for perusal at the Stedelijk Museum Library! Check it out next time you’re in Amsterdam and want to see some amazing contemporary and modern art:

To enhance you’re reading pleasure, I’ve also created an interactive map of Amsterdam, highlighting the more important locations in the novel. Check it out on Goggle maps:

And to make my wonderful week even better, my first novel, Down and Out in Kathmandu: adventures in backpacking, just got another amazing 5 star review on TripFiction. Read the full review, and TripFiction’s fantastic travel (non-)fiction recommendations, here:

Have a wonderful few weeks and enjoy the summer (or winter)! Happy reading, Jennifer
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Is there a sculpture by Picasso in Vondelpark?

Picasso's Fish Statue
Scattered throughout Amsterdam’s largest city park – Vondelpark – are several statues and sculptures, including one designed by Pablo Picasso, Figure découpée l’Oiseau. Though Picasso intended it to be a bird (note the feet recognizable at the bottom of the sculpture), Amsterdammers have always seen it as a fish and locally it’s known as ‘Picasso’s Fish statue’.

It was a gift from the artist to Amsterdam in 1965. That same year, the city organized an exhibition of artwork featuring some of the most important international sculptors at that time, to commemorate Vondelpark’s 100th year of existence. It was curated by Willem Sandberg, then director of the Stedelijk Museum. Picasso allegedly gave the sculpture to Amsterdam as a token of his friendship with Sandberg.

But was it really his to give? The great artist himself created a small, scale model of the sculpture out of sheet metal, and the Norwegian artist Carl Nesjar created the 8 meter high version now standing in Vondelpark. Nesjar was an acclaimed painter, sculptor and graphic artist who developed a unique method of concrete sculpting called “betograve”. He introduced Picasso to the technique, sparking a twenty-year collaboration during which time Nesjar turned twenty-four of Picasso’s drawings and scale models into large public sculptures.

Figure découpée l’Oiseau is also executed in betograve; white concrete was poured into a form tightly packed with black stones, then – once set – Picasso’s lines were sandblasted into the slab, exposing the gravel beneath the surface.

When you read about Carl Nesjar and his oeuvre, the sculptures he and Picasso collaborated on are usually credited as: “Designed by Pablo Picasso, executed by Carl Nesjar.”

What do you think: Is our beloved Fish statue a Picasso? Or is it really a Nesjar?

Here’s a link to an interactive map of Amsterdam, pinpointing the Fish sculpture:

Here’s a beautiful 2-minute long video of the 1965 exhibition in Vondelpark:

Picasso's statue also plays a small role in my second novel, The Lover's Portrait: An Art Mystery.
The Lover's Portrait An Art Mystery (Adventures of Zelda Richardson, #2) by Jennifer S. Alderson
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Published on August 18, 2016 08:08 Tags: amsterdam, art-history, lover-s-portrait, mystery, nesjar, picasso, vondelpark

3 great new reviews in 1 week!

The Lover's Portrait Amsterdam

What an amazing week: Two new wonderful 5 star reviews of Down and Out in Kathmandu, and one new fantastic 4.5 review of The Lover's Portrait!

"Down and Out is an engrossing and thrilling travel mystery that was hard to put down."

"Alderson’s portrayal allows the reader to view the underbelly of the city, with all its smells and sounds, its chaos and pathos.... This is a well-researched (on site experience) and entertaining read for both armchair travelers and trekkers."

The Lover's Portrait is "an enjoyable mystery...Setting is delightful. She has captured the very Dutch nature of the city and clearly knows it well."

So proud and pleased!

Thanks to Goodread members Jill Dobbe, Pamela Allegretto and TripFiction for taking the time to review my books. I'm so glad you all enjoyed them both!

You can read TripFiction's 4.5 star review of The Lover's Portrait on their website [ ] or here on Goodreads: .

The reviews of Down and Out in Kathmandu can be read here on Goodreads: and

Down and Out in Kathmandu Adventures in Backpacking (Adventures of Zelda Richardson, #1) by Jennifer S. Alderson The Lover's Portrait An Art Mystery (Adventures of Zelda Richardson, #2) by Jennifer S. Alderson
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First author interview posted!

I'm excited to see my first ever author interview posted on Goodreads author Amy Shannon's book review site (Amy's Bookshelf Reviews) and blog! Thanks Amy, great questions!

To read about my writing process, favorite books and addiction to traveling, click here:

Or here:

Happy Reading!
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Published on September 16, 2016 07:30 Tags: amsterdam, amy-s-bookshelf-reviews, amy-shannon, author, book-review, interview, kathmandu, nepal, thailand, travel

Fantastic new review by Publishers Weekly reviewer!

When your book is entered into a contest, especially one which includes a Critic's Report written by a professional reviewer, you can't help but get nervous, hoping and praying the reviewer finds *something* enjoyable about your book. So it was an enormous relief to see this very fine review, as part of the BookLife Prize for Fiction contest, written by a Publishers Weekly reviewer!

The competition is fierce as there are quite a few great books participating. I will know mid-October if The Lover's Portrait: An Art Mystery makes it to the next round, but either way this review makes me feel like a winner!

Read the entire review now on BookLife if you're so inclined: [ ]

Happy Reading!
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Misty day makes for a pretty windmill

No book news in this blog post, just a pretty picture of the Riekermolen (Rieker windmill), a few blocks from my house. We had a few days of crazy thick mist here in Amsterdam and it made for some spooky, yet majestic pictures...
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Published on November 04, 2016 03:22 Tags: amsterdam, misty, molen, photograph, windmill

Happy New Year everyone!

Happy New Year​ from Amsterdam!

I hope 2017 is good to you!


My latest blog post is actually about an amazing festival of light art installations called the Amsterdam Light Festival.

However, seeing as it's the beginning of 2017, I wanted to first thank ALL of the wonderful, talented and supportive authors and readers I've met since joining Goodreads. You make being an active member interesting and fun! And thanks to all of your book recommendations, my TBR pile is OUT OF CONTROL! :)

I am truly indebted to those who have bought my books, reviewed them or told their friends about them. Without your support and encouragement, I wouldn’t be able to call my first year as published author a success. Thank you!

Now, if you're interested in traveling to, or learning more about one of my favorite ways to celebrate the winter here in the Netherlands, pop on over to my blog and read about the Amsterdam Light Festival:

Take care!
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Published on January 02, 2017 07:29 Tags: 2017, amsterdam, celebration, grateful, light-festival, netherlands, new-year, tbr

Article on Women Writers, Women's Books

I'm thrilled to see an article I wrote about archival research and The Lover's Portrait: An Art Mystery now featured on Women Writers, Women's Books!

Many thanks, Barbara Bos​ and the WWWB team.

The Lover's Portrait An Art Mystery (Adventures of Zelda Richardson, #2) by Jennifer S. Alderson
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