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A Young Wife: A Novel Hardcover – June 14, 2011

4.4 out of 5 stars 29 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"...the unexpected twists in Minke's story and her feisty appeal will keep readers eager to turn the page." - Publishers Weekly

"In this compelling read, Lewis beautifully captures the essence of a place, from the lushness of the Netherlands to the wilds of Argentina to the inhospitable urban streets of New York." - Booklist

"...a stirring journey...its images are undeniably alluring." - BookPage

"Carrington MacDuffie reads with emotion and clarity, bringing Minke's spirit and innocence and growing independence and toughness to life." - SoundCommentary.com

--This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

About the Author

Pam Lewis lives in rural Connecticut with her husband, Rob Funk. Since 1991, she has worked as a freelance writer of business and marketing communications. She is the author of the novels Perfect Family and Speak Softly, She Can Hear and her short fiction has appeared in The New Yorker and various literary magazines.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; First Edition edition (June 14, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1451612729
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451612721
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,985,106 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Julie A. Smith on September 6, 2011
Format: Hardcover
The inspiration for this story was the author's own grandmother, who was "hired at fifteen to tend a dying relative in the home of my then thirty-five-year old grandfather, that he took her to South America to start a store there, that their union was a scandal in the tiny town where she lived, that he ultimately abandoned her with four young daughters ...."

In this novel Sander DeVries pays a visit to the home of Minke van Aisma in the Netherlands. It is 1912, and Sander's wife Elizabeth is very ill. Minke's parents know that he needs a nurse for his wife, and their belief is that Fenna, Minke's 16-year-old sister, will be the daughter that goes with him to Amsterdam. Minke, however, is caught out as she tries to listen in on the conversation, and Sander decides to take her instead, leaving Fenna resentful as always.

Minke quickly grows fond of Elizabeth, however, when Elizabeth suddenly dies, Minke is made to suddenly leave, returning to her parents' home with more questions than answers. When Sander asks her parents to marry her, Minke is not certain what to think, but in the end, she agrees and the couple travel to Comodoro Rivadavia in Argentina with Sander's friend Dr. Cassian Tredegar.

In this far-flung new country, populated by gauchos that don't quite meet up with Minke's romantic ideals, Minke gives birth to a son named Zef, who is kidnapped while they are playing together. When Sander's business interests collapse, she must journey to America, leaving behind her hope of gaining Zef back.

This is a story of love, betrayal, lies, and the ultimate deceit. I felt for Minke, a young, gullible girl taken in by an older man.
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3 Stars is all I could give this though. It was only after I read the book that I discovered it was based on the author's grandmother's life. This is ironic because I had a hard time connecting to Minke. On the face of it I could feel compassion for her situation. But her character was too superficial to really empathize with her. It was hard to feel angry at her parents when she didn't. I have a hard time believing that someone who would take on the challenge of moving to a new continent would be such a door mat. Either the author didn't know her grandmother well or she was protecting her by not revealing the pain all of her trials must have caused. It wasn't until the sister arrived that she truly got angry. I don't think we can equate Minke to a typical 15 year old today. In some ways she was more sheltered and in others she was more mature. It feels like a rough draft. It needs another layer.
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Format: Hardcover
Author Pam Lewis tells a hypnotic tale of love, intrigue, foreign adventure and personal growth. In 1912 fifteen year old Minke is chosen (over her older sister Fenna) by Mr. Sander DeVries to accompany the much older and dashing man to Amsterdam, where Minke is to to care for De Vries' dying wife, Elizabeth. Minke's FIFTEEN! I kept reminding myself that if she were alive today she'd be a sophomore in high school. Elizabeth soon dies and within hours Sander weds the young, naive and sheltered Minke so they can board the ship that will carry them to the new and developing Argentine oil fields where they will open a store.

We quickly learn that people and situations are not always what they seem and that the trusting Minke has fallen wildly, crazy in love with Sander. Again, I kept having to remind myself that Minke is only fifteen when I am frustrated by her easy trust in people. She's soon pregnant and her dashing husband isn't quite so dashing anymore.

In A Young Wife, Lewis writes a story that is loosely based on the events of her maternal grandmother's life. I couldn't help but wonder what events and happenings were true and which were developed for this story in which the young Minke sees her first child abducted, she sees the aftermath of betrayal by people she cares for, and she sees the damage that happens when lies and money become more important than the soul and human relationships.

Lewis writes Minke's responses to the events of her life as a young girl would react! Lewis chronicles the development and growth of Minke's own survival skills and maternal instincts. One thing that does not betray her is the Comodoro Rivadavia area of the Argentine. Minke loves its people and its land. Somewhat like Scarlet O'Hara, Minke belongs to the Argentine land.
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Format: Hardcover
In 1912 wealthy businessman Sander DeVries arrives in Enkhuzen, Netherlands and hires the younger of two sisters, fifteen years old Minke van Aisma over the angry objection of her sibling Fenna, to nurse his wife Elisabeth as she is dying. Sander selected her because he believed she had the quiet toughness Elisabeth will need. He escorts Minke to Amsterdam.

A few hours after Elisabeth dies, Sander stuns Minke by proposing; he wants her to become his spouse and live with him in oil city Comodoro Rivadavia, Argentina. Although frightened, she accepts. They travel across the Atlantic as Minke grows mentally stronger and becomes buddies with her husband's friend Cassian and Pieps a ship steerage boy. In Comodoro Rivadavia, Minke gives birth to a son Zef. However, her idyllic life is dangerous as her son is abducted while she carries her second offspring. Zef forces them to flee to New York, leaving behind her kidnapped child. He underestimates the will of a mother when it comes to her cub.

Based on the life of Pam Lewis' grandmother, A Young Wife is a superb early twentieth century thriller. Minke holds the story line together with her courage and caring. She and readers will be stunned once the truth is known as this vivid historical tale is a winning look at three continents in the first two decades of the previous century.

Harriet Klausner
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