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The Occupied Garden: A Family Memoir of War-Torn Holland

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4.11  ·  Rating details ·  167 Ratings  ·  29 Reviews
The Occupied Garden is the powerful true story of a market gardener and his fiercely devout wife who were living a simple life in Holland when the Nazis invaded in 1940. During the subsequent occupation, Gerrit and Cor den Hartog struggled to keep their young family from starving and from being broken up in an era of intimidation, disappearances, and bombings -- until one ...more
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published April 28th 2009 by Thomas Dunne Books (first published March 18th 2008)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Rolanda



I never fully realized what my parents meant when they said things like "finish the food on your plate" or "don't complain about what color your socks are, be glad you have them to wear" I always felt as though both my parents were a little dramatic when these kinds of phrases shot out of their mouths at us five children during our younger years. It wasn't until now that I can respect the things that my parents have said to me in my younger years. Both of my parents were born very shortly after
...more
Thea
May 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Occupied Garden was one book that I had a lot of trouble putting down. It was spellbinding, probably more so for me than many other readers. That is because the description of the family, their circumstances, their hardships and their enduring faith, could be the story of my parents in Apeldoorn.

The best thing about this story is that is placed, not in a vacuum, as a stand alone story, but in context of the history of the time and place during the years of 1938-1948 and touches on later year
...more
Oana
Apr 04, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A really enjoyable book, well-written with a good flow and excellent narrative style. Good look at how every day people survived the occupation, with especially interesting information on the Hunger Winter.

I had a hard time deciding whether to give it four or five stars; my biggest issue was that the authors invented dialogue and feelings (their grandparents did not keep diaries). The book could also have used a map for those of not familiar with much more than Rotterdam and Amsterdam in the Ne
...more
Tricia
Jul 16, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As I am married to a Dutchman whose parents are holocaust survivors, it was interesting hearing what non Jewish families endured.
Jeanette
Jul 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reading about World War II is always sad. When you read about people who actually existed and what people went through it really means more. There was a lot of history in the book, which helps when you haven't learned it before. My father was one of the liberators so I keep learning more of what he did since he didn't talk about it.
2sonreader
Mar 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent book, weaving one family's story with the history of World War 2 in the Netherlands.
Nancy Adams
Aug 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well-written but heartrending.
Alexandra
Enjoyed the book because of my dutch heritage. Others may find the war details too tedius
Louise
Nov 23, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. The story of a couple and their children surviving WWII and the occupation of Holland, written by two of the couple's granddaughters. Apparently the couple (Gert and Cor) rarely talked about the war and occupation after it was over, and it was only after their deaths that the two women started searching for their history.
It's an awe-inspiring story of simple survival, nothing extravagant, nothing complex, just simply surviving the horrors of the war and having your homeland t
...more
Colin
Oct 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A very real account of wartime Netherlands - with moving descriptions of daily life under the Nazis and the struggle to eat and stay warm - together with tradegy and suffering. The book is interspered with vigettes about Queen Wilhemina and her daughters and their struggle to inspire a conquered country from abroad. Of course some of the royal family stayed in Ottawa during the war and the Dutch were liberated by the Canadian Forces, so it was natural after the war for many families to move to C ...more
Thalia
Nov 04, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: canadian, war
Being half Dutch, I thought this would be both very interesting and enlightening. I think I can understand my Oma and Opa better now, and even my own mother. Though she was born after the war (her brothers before it) I can see how this would have affected her life. I am greatly impressed with the ablilty of the authors to create the story so well cosidering how much time had passed and that tmany "sources" had passed away. I can't fully imagine what these times were like and hope I never have to ...more
Monica
Feb 24, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having Dutch grandparents who lived in Occupied Holland, I found this book really informative. My grandparents don't normally discuss their lives during that time, but I know it had and has an impact on everything they've done from 1945 on. This book has helped me to understand why they do the things they do. Why scrimping and saving is deeply ingrained in them despite their relative ease of life in Canada. I also understand their prejudices and their difficulty moving with the times.
William
Jun 10, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Full discloser here, the author is a friend of mine so I might be a bit biased; but I would argue it's a remarkable book on many levels. It provides lots of historical detail on the Dutch involvement in the Second World War and also highlights the stories of author's family which provides the reader an example of how the war's atrocities impacted a family and the people around them. Wonderfully written and highly recommended.
Tracy Morton
I have read a lot about ww2 and about the holocaust but this book offered a side of war that I hadn't yet experienced. The story follows a Christian family living on the Netherlands during German occupation. It was interesting to read about the war through their eyes. I was also proud to read about the Canadian heroism that help lead to the end of the war. Beautifully written and moving.
Colleen
May 25, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was excellent for me. I thought it was such a personal story of the Den Hartog family combined with the history of Holland during the war. It is well written. I thought it was interesting to put the comparison of the family of Queen Wilhemina's war experience with the experience of an "everyday" Holland family.
Alisa Roukema
Nov 29, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well written book which blends their family history with the events of that time. Especially recommended for those with a Dutch Reformed heritage. I kept thinking this could be my grandparents and it made me want to know more of their story.
Mary
Feb 05, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a gem, particularly in the way it interweaves the present story with the past, and in showing the complexity of life at that time -- not easy for anyone, with heroes and villains strangely mingled at times. Definitely worth reading for anyone with an interest in this period.
Laura
Apr 13, 2010 rated it liked it
It had it's ups and downs for me. I'd really enjoy a page or two and get interested then too many facts/places would be mentioned and it felt too much like a history lesson.

I do think the book would have been better if there was a map.

It's a great story, just not on paper.
Linds
Mar 28, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I just finished this. LOVED IT. I love reading about WW2. I didn't really know anything about the occupation in Holland, and I found this book IMMENSELY educating and entertaining. Lots of history I didn't know. :)
Mar
Feb 14, 2012 rated it it was ok
I'm intrigued by the war in the Netherlands, but found this book didn't give the type of information I wanted. At times the information was sketchy or surmised and at other times the details would interest the den hartog family, but not necessarily the average reader.
Honey
Apr 23, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was written more like a memoir of these womens' parents. But it also paralleled Queen Wilhelmina's life and therefore was very much a lesson, albeit and interesting one, about Dutch history.
Nancy
Apr 22, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A story about one's family's experience living in Holland during WWII and how they were liberated and came to Canada. Great account.
Liz
Sep 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So thankful that this book has been written! Thank you for telling the story!
Marian
Sep 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Marian by: on display at the library
A beautifully written memoir of life in WWII Netherlands from behind enemy lines and liberation.
Alyson
Extraordinary!
C.j. Irwin
Dec 05, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A glimps into World War Two. The den Hartog family facinate and inspire.
Mary
Didn't finish this. Couldn't get into it.
Heather Robinson
rated it really liked it
Aug 20, 2013
Tara Jobse
rated it really liked it
Jul 18, 2011
Melanie
rated it really liked it
Feb 25, 2012
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I’m Kristen den Hartog, the author of And Me Among Them, published in the U.S. as The Girl Giant. My earlier novels include Water Wings, The Perpetual Ending, and Origin of Haloes. My first non-fiction book, The Occupied Garden: A Family Memoir of War-torn Holland, was written with my sister, Tracy Kasaboski, and explores the life of our father’s family during the Second World War. I’m currently a ...more
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