The Tulip Eaters by Antoinette van Heugten
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Nora de Jong returns home to find her mother murdered and her baby missing. Frustrated with the lack of developments from the police department Nora decides to find her baby on her own. In doing so she discovers family secrets that change everything she thinks she knows.
I loved Those that Save Us by Jenna Bloom and Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay and was really hoping for a similar read with a World War II theme. Unfortunately, this book fell far short and I struggled to get through it.
My main issue with the novel was the writing, I found it to be very juvenile and it did not convey the emotion or depth the novel should have had.
Immediately, in the first chapter when Nora discovered her deceased mother the writing threw me off. Passages like, "Nora tried to push the gray lumps back into her mother's skull. They felt like buttery worms and smelled like spoiled eggs." Often times, through out the novel the author became very descriptive but it did nothing to convey emotion or depth in a character, it seemed like she was trying to hard.
In other instances the dialogue between characters and inner dialogue was forced and very simplistic or stereotypical.
Nora de Jong was not a fully fleshed out character. She never seemed to be a grieving or distraught mother of a missing child. She was certainly frantic and very focused on her research of her family secrets but she seemed too focused on that. Her reaction to finding her dead mother and eventually her missing baby was odd and once the investigator came it got even worse. Nora and her friend were allowed to remain in the home and meander through the crime scene repeatedly, eventually having tea in the kitchen while the investigation continued. I found this highly unlikely. Later when the detective comes back for a follow up, he and Nora have coffee in the living room where the mother died, a blue blanket thrown over the blood and brains on the carpet. Again, who would stay in a home after that "awful day" as it was often referred to.
When Nora went to Amsterdam to search for the kidnapper she became even more unbelievable as a mother of a missing child, focused on her research and family secrets and eventually her former lover. At one point she is sipping wine in a bar thinking about how relaxed she is, totally unrealistic.
Then there is Nico, her former lover and as it turns out the child's father. Conveniently, he is the director of the historical society Nora needs to do her research at. She left Nico after he refused to move to the U.S. with her where she had a neuro surgery fellowship and soon after arriving in Houston she found out she was pregnant and decided to not reveal this to Nico. He has since remarried but that doesn't stop the feelings between the two and neither does her confession of a shared child. I found their relationship to be very shallow and Nico unbelievable as a father denied his baby.
The supporting characters Amarissa, Ariel and Dirk were very one dimensional and stereo typical as well and did little to improve the story. I really hated Amarissa not just because she was a horrible person but also because she was a very very cliche character.
The premise of this book was very interesting, the title interesting and the preface got my hopes up, the actual story disappointed. I would like to give this story idea to other authors and see how differently it could have played out, to see it reach its potential.
I received a copy of this novel from Net Galley in exchange for a fair review
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