An interesting read! A mother’s sacrifice, determination, betrayal, and love spanning three continents. The novel is based on the author’s grandmother’s life in a place called Comodoro Rivadavia, Argentina.
A Young Wife
by Pam Lewis
Simon & Schuster
Minke van Aisma is a fifteen year old living with her parents and sister in a small village in The Netherlands called Enkhuizen A wealthy distant relative. Sander DeVries, is coming today to offer Fenna a job taking care of his critically ill wife Elisabeth in Amsterdam. Minke is to stay out of sight – the job belongs to Fenna. A stranger in Enkhusian is rare indeed. Minke’s curiosity gets the best of her and she peeks in the kitchen to get a look. Sander spots her and calls her in. He takes one look at her and offers her the job. Fenna is devastated. She job belongs to her. Sander will not change his mind and Minke travels to Amsterdam to care for Elizabeth. Elisabeth is very ill and unkempt. – given doses of morphine to dull the pain. The sick room is dark and hot. She immediately sets things in order and makes Elisabeth comfortable. There are two grown children living in the house – Willem and Griet. Willem is a student and Griet is a spoiled brat. She doesn’t like Minke and tries to make her life miserable.
One morning Sander tells Minke he is taking her home. What did she do wrong – is it because she slapped Grit for stealing her mother’s morphine? She leaves Elizabeth with a heavy heart – to care for her. Sander tells her Elizabeth is dead. He is sailing for Argentine in a few days – everything is ready. He wants to marry her and take her with him. She is stunned – how can he think of marriage when his wife has only been dead a few hours. He will return in a week for her answer. Minke’s mother plans a large wedding, but Sander is late and they are finally married by breaking the ring. She is excited to be going on a large ship to Argentine. Elizabeth had told her about the grass blowing in the wind and the gauchos riding their beautiful horses.
Arrival in Comodoro Revadavia , Argentine is a shock to Minke – where are the gauchos and grass. The land is a barren desert. There isn’t even a town – just shacks – she is forced to live in the only hotel available – a bar with a tin roof and several rooms. Dr. Cassian Tredegar who accomplished them to Argentine sets up a morphine processing factory with the help of local boys. Sander builds her a new house, she has a beautiful baby boy, Fenna has come to stay. and she is again pregnant. Dr. Tredegar is severally beaten by persons unknown and Minke’s son Jef is kidnapped. Sander has gambled away their money – it is not safe for him anymore. He and Fenna will go to America, find jobs and secure them a beautiful home. Minke and Cassian will join them after the baby is born.
When Minke arrives in America she is stunned. There is no money, or house – only a tiny apartment in a very poor section of New York. To make matters worse, Fenna is pregnant. What has been going on here – how could Sander do this to her? She has gone from the opulent life in Amsterdam to rough living on the Argentine coast, to the impoverished life of a recent immigrant in New York. Life in America is not what she expected. Minke finds work with a wealthy family as a seamstress and leaves Sander. Minke learns from the newspaper that their friends from Argentina – Frederik and Tessa Dietz and their young son are in New York. The boy looks just like her Jef. With the help of her employer she is able to get her son back. Sander is not who she thought he was. He is a drunk, a liar, and a gambler. Sander sold Jef to the Dietzs.
She takes the children and returns to Comodoro Revadavis, Argentina. She secures a partnership with the local store owner as a seamstress. She and her children will make a good life on the Argentine coast.
Highly recommended. This is a journey you not soon forget. Pam Leis is an excellent writer – she makes her characters come alive. You will feel Minke’s joy, hopes and devastation as her life unravels. Most of all you will feel the hurt inflicted by her husband’s betrayal.
Mary Asher, the Golden Reviewer, is a founding book blogger for BookGateway.com. She describes herself as “An 80 year old avid reader reviews the newest in Christian fiction and non-fiction with a sprinkle of the secular on top.”.
This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.