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Tamar: A Novel of Espionage, Passion, and Betrayal Hardcover – January 23, 2007

4.3 out of 5 stars 78 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Grade 8 Up—This lengthy Carnegie Medal-winning novel is masterfully crafted, written in cinematic prose, and peopled by well-drawn, multidimensional characters. Intense and riveting, it is a mystery, a tale of passion, and a drama about resistance fighters in the Netherlands during World War II. The story unfolds in parallel narratives, most told by an omniscient narrator describing the resistance struggle, and fewer chapters as a narrative told by 15-year-old Tamar, the granddaughter of one of the resistance fighters. The locale and time shift between Holland in 1944 and '45 and England in 1995. The constant dangers faced by the resistance fighters as well as their determination to succeed in liberating their country from German occupation come vividly to life. Dart, Tamar, and Marijke are the main characters in this part of the book. Their loyalty to one another and the movement is palpable though love and jealousy gradually enter the story and painfully change the dynamics. Other characters jeopardize the safety of the group and intensify the life-threatening hazards they face. Peet deftly handles the developing intrigue that totally focuses readers. After her beloved grandfather commits suicide, modern-day Tamar is determined to undercover the mystery contained in a box of seemingly unrelated objects that he has left for her. Peet keeps the story going back and forth in time, and readers must wait till the end of this intricate book to understand fully what happened to these courageous people. This is an extraordinary, gripping novel.—Renee Steinberg, formerly at Fieldstone Middle School, Montvale, NJ
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* It was her taciturn but beloved grandfather, William Hyde, who gave Tamar her strange name. But in 1995, when she was 15, he committed suicide, leaving her to wonder if she knew him at all. Later, when she opens the box of War II memorabilia that he left her, she's struck by the need to find out what it means, who he really was, and where she fits in. Tension mounts incrementally in an intricate wrapping of wartime drama and secrecy, in which Tamar finds her namesake and herself. Forming the backbone of the novel are intense, sometimes brutal events in a small Dutch town in Nazi-occupied Holland and the relationship between the girl's namesake, a member of the Dutch Resistance; Dart, a code operator assigned to help him; and Marijke, the love of his life. Peet's plot is tightly constructed, and striking, descriptive language, full of metaphor, grounds the story. Most of the characters are adults here, and to some readers, the Dutch history, though deftly woven through the story, will seem remote. But Peet's sturdy, emotionally resonant characterizations and dramatic backdrop will pull readers forward, as will the secret that gradually unravels. Despite foreshadowing, the outcome is still a stunner. Winner of Britain's 2005 Carnegie Medal, this powerful story will grow richer with each reading. Stephanie Zvirin
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Candlewick; First Edition edition (January 23, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0763634883
  • ISBN-13: 978-0763634889
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.5 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (78 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #810,631 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Tamar and Dart are spies who parachute into Nazi-occupied Netherlands during the "Hunger Winter" of 1944. Tamar's mission is to convince Dutch resistance groups to unify under the authority of the British government. Dart is his wireless operator, at a time when a WO's life expectancy in the field is just a few months. Tamar is undercover as a farm laborer sent home from Nazi work camps due to broken health. Dart is disguised as a doctor in residence at a sanatorium. They communicate only with the help of local resistance members, any of whom could be Nazi spies.

Very little information is given about the characters beyond their duties as spies. Both are Dutch, but it is never revealed how they came to be recruited by the British or what their lives were like before they were spies. It is almost as though their choice to become spies has erased all other sense of identity. They have no past and no future beyond their present mission, even as personal feelings begin to color their relationships to one another and the organization they serve.

Approximately 50 years later, a teen girl, also named Tamar, inherits a mysterious box from her grandfather. She and her cousin Yoyo take a trip into the British countryside seeking the origins of the Tamar river and the answer to a family secret that has remained hidden for generations. The two stories dovetail in a compelling novel about the legacy of a world at war, binding people across borders and generations.

World War II happened so long ago that it is beginning to pass from memory into history. The world of TAMAR's spies is so different from our own that it might as well be an imaginary world.
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Format: Paperback
This novel tells the moving and often sad story of two generations of people impacted by the horrors of WWII. I loved the dual storyline and getting to know characters during two different time periods. (Young Tamar is a great narrator during the 1990's--she captures both the innoncence and hopfulness of youth.) The book is complex and simple at the same time, much like human nature. It makes you think about how difficult it is to live in the presence of enemies, both internal and external. The story had interesting detail about Dutch life during the War. Life for the WWII characters is so very hard- I realize I have never faced such difficult circumstances. Don't let this deter you from reading- I found myself comforted by the small joys and happiness that Dart, Tamar, and the Maartens manage to create.

I quickly grew attached to most of the primary characters, especially both Tamars. Dart was more difficult to like, but I appreciated the risky job he had and the toll it took on his personality and reasoning. The plot took a few unexpected turns as I read it, reminding me that first impressions and assumptions aren't always correct. The novel presented a few suprises along the way.

I suggest anyone with interest in history-based fiction read this book. Most of the WWII stories I have read focus on the Jewish experience in Holland. I felt like I learned a great deal about the Resistance and the Winter of Starvation.
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Format: Paperback
I was sucked in by the first line:

"In the end, it was her grandfather, William Hyde, who gave the unborn child her name. He was serious about names; he'd had several himself."

One day, out of the blue, William Hyde asks his son to name his daughter Tamar. He explains that when he was a Dutch resistance fighter working for the British during WWII, their code names were taken from rivers in England. His son assumes it was his father's code name and agrees to name her Tamar.

After this brief introduction, the story jumps back in time to follow two young Dutch secret agents, code names Dart and Tamar. The two friends parachute into the occupied Netherlands in the dead of night. Tamar is charged with organizing the fragmented resistance efforts. Dart is his wireless operator. When they arrive, Tamar finds he is based out of the farm where a young woman named Marijke lives. It turns out the two met and fell in love a year ago but never thought they'd see each other again after Tamar was sent back to England. As they rekindle their romance amid the terror and starvation gripping the country, Dart is not so lucky. Based out of an insane asylum, he poses as a doctor, making trip after treacherous trip into town to relay encrypted messages and receive directions from headquarters in England. The events that overtake these two friends combine to create a web of deception and anger that reaches out to cover three generations.

This story is bleak. The focus is on the horrors of war and what they do to the men and women involved, the indelible mark left on their lives long after the guns are silenced and the violence is over. In the WWII chapters, the writing is coolly objective.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I realized my review is coming years after this wonderful book's release, but I wanted to say how much I enjoyed it. Enough to use it in a book group I conduct. My heart was pounding from the start as I anticipated the men parachuting into Holland during World War II. The love story, the competition between underground factions as well as the competition between the two young men were well handled and riveting.

The details about the horrors the Dutch endured under the Nazi occupation educated me about something I never knew.

I believe Peet's handling of the material is well-suited for both adults and young people.

Well done!
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