Please join us for a very special event. We will be joined by mother and daughter, Edith and Hester Velmans, who will discuss their lives and works. As a young Jewish girl living in Holland, Edith Velmans survived the World War II in hiding; the rest of her family perished. With help from Hester, Edith turned her wartime diaries into an award-winning memoir. Hester is also an author, and will discuss her new novel, Slipper, which was one of WAMC's Best Books of 2018.
About EDITH'S STORY by Edith Velmans
When Hitler invaded Holland in 1939, Edith van Hessen was a popular Dutch high school student. She also happened to be Jewish. In the same month that Anne Frank's family went into hiding, Edith was sent to live with a courageous Protestant family, took a new name, and survived by posing as a gentile. Ultimately one-third of the hidden Dutch Jews were discovered and murdered; most of Edith's family perished. Velmans's memoir is based on her teenage diaries, wartime letters, and reflections as an adult survivor. In recounting wartime events and the details of her feelings as the war runs its course, Edith's Story ultimately affirms life, love, and extraordinary courage.
“One of the most moving memoirs I have ever read.”
– Ruth Rendell
“It holds you with the same intensity as The Diary of Anne Frank and leaves you heartbroken, illuminated, and amazed at the capacity for courage.”
– The Guardian (London)
“Velmans’ candid portrayal of herself as a feisty, loving, sometimes self-absorbed teenager is thoroughly engaging and her story throws a new light on the plight of Jews who survived the war hidden in plain sight.”
– Publishers Weekly
“It’s impossible to get through this inspiring and great-hearted volume dry-eyed, or without admiration for people who so bravely persevered through unimaginable hardships and privations.” — The Washington Post
“Gives all the pain and pleasure of reading Anne Frank for the first time.” — Esther Freud, The Guardian (Books of the Year)
Winner of The Jewish Quarterly’s Wingate Award for Non-Fiction
About Slipper by Hester Velmans
Meet the woman who will inspire the author of the world's most famous story: Lucinda, a penniless English orphan, is abused and exploited as a cinder-sweep by her aristocratic relatives. On receiving her sole inheritance--a pair of glass-beaded slippers--she runs away to France in pursuit of an officer on whom she has a big crush. She joins the baggage train of Louis XIV's army, survives a horrific massacre, and eventually finds her way to Paris. There she befriends the man who will some day write the world's best loved fairy tale, Charles Perrault.
There is much more: a witch hunt, the sorry truth about daydreams, and some truly astonishing revelations, such as the historical facts behind the story of the Emperor's new clothes, and a perfectly reasonable explanation for the compulsion some young women have to kiss frogs. This is not the fairy tale you remember.
"Slipper is the most engaging novel I have read in a long time. Part romantic love story, part fairy tale, part feminist commentary, this is a wonderful, old fashioned novel to be savored. It is as if a graduate student had stumbled upon a handwritten, 19th century manuscript in the British Library, read it, and declared, 'There was a fourth Bronte sister -- and she was the most talented of the brood!'" — Daniel Klein, best-selling author of Travels with Epicurus and Plato and Platypus Walk into a Bar
"Although this novel mainly pays specific homage to Cinderella, Velmans laces the book with references to the other tales. The author builds this network with remarkable care, and although the resulting novel is a complex web of influences, it’s never a confounding one. Furthermore, she writes in a delicate, ornate prose style that has a transporting effect, bringing readers back to Perrault’s time and nestling them in a thoroughly alluring narrative. A satisfying blend of history and myth that breathes new life into Cinderella." —Kirkus Reviews
About Hester Velmans
Hester Velmans was born in the Netherlands, educated in Switzerland and England, and today lives in western Massachusetts. She is a translator specializing in contemporary Dutch and French literature. Her translation of Renate Dorrestein’s A Heart of Stone won the 2001 Vondel Prize; in 2014 she was awarded a U.S. National Endowment of the Arts Fellowship to translate the neglected novelist Herman Franke. She is the author of the popular children’s books Isabel of the Whales and Jessaloup’s Song, and a new novel, Slipper.