The Cut Out Girl - 2018 Costa Book of the Year
Bart van Es
Bart van Es’s The Cut Out Girl, described by Philippe Sands as ‘luminous, elegant, haunting’, tells the true story of the author’s grandparents, and the young girl they fostered to hide her from the Nazis in occupied Holland. It is the winner of the 2018 Costa Book of the Year, and we are delighted to bring you the author for a special event at JW3, in conversation with literary editor and columnist Sam Leith.
The last time Lien saw her parents was in The Hague, when she was collected at the door by a stranger and taken to a foster family far away to be hidden from the Nazis. What was her side of the story, Bart van Es – a grandson of the couple who looked after Lien – wondered? What really happened during the war, and after? So began an investigation that would consume and transform both Bart van Es’s life and Lien’s. The Cut Out Girl braids together a powerful recreation of Lien’s harrowing childhood story with the present-day account of Bart’s efforts to piece that story together. And it embraces the wider picture too, for Holland was more cooperative in rounding up Jews for the Nazis than any other Western European country. This is a story about the powerful love and challenges of foster families, and about the ways in which our most painful experiences – so crucial in defining us – can also be redefined.