Book Review: The Hidden Village by Imogen Matthews

Posted September 11, 2018 by lomeraniel in Audiobooks, Fiction, Historical, Review / 0 Comments

Book Review: The Hidden Village by Imogen MatthewsThe Hidden Village by Imogen Matthews
Narrator: Liam Gerrard
Published by I M Associates on 05-31-18
Genres: Fiction, Historical
Length: 9 hrs and 48 mins
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audiobookworm
Buy on Amazon/Audible
Overal Rating: four-stars

Wartime Holland. Who can you trust?

Deep in the Veluwe woods lies a secret that frustrates the Germans. Convinced that Jews are hiding close by they can find no proof.

The secret is Berkenhout, a purpose-built village of huts sheltering dozens of persecuted people.Young tearaway Jan roams the woods looking for adventure and fallen pilots. His dream comes true when he stumbles across an American airman, Donald C. McDonald. But keeping him hidden sets off a disastrous chain of events.

Sofie, a Jewish Dutch girl, struggles to adapt to living in Berkenhout, away from her family and friends. As weeks turn to months, she’s worried they’ll abandon her altogether. Henk Hauer, head woodman, is in charge of building the underground huts and ensuring the Berkenhout inhabitants stay safe. But many grow suspicious of his liaisons with the Germans. Is he passing on secret information that could endanger lives?

All it takes is one small fatal slip to change the course of all their lives for ever.

The book tells the story of the inhabitants and refugees living in the fictional village of Berkenhout during WWII. In the prologue, the author mentions that the book is a compilation of stories told by a relative. I was interested in this book since I’ve visited the Netherlands several times since I lived in Belgium for some years.

It was an enjoyable tale, with likable characters and heartbreaking stories. I think historical fiction is one of the best ways of learning about history, and this is a good example of it. There has been a good amount of research in writing this book, and I do appreciate the few words in Dutch scattered throughout the book.

Even though I really enjoyed the story, there were some aspects that prevented me from granting it a 5-star review. I think the book would have impressed me a lot more were the characters more developed. They were many, with a very brief introduction for each of them, and at times they blended a bit into each other. I was not able to connect with them, and I didn’t much care about their luck. I think the book would have worked much better if told from the perspective of one of the characters, providing more insight and more character development.

Liam Gerrard’s narration was quite good, providing with different voices and styles to the characters, and bringing them to life through great character interpretations. Gerrard really helped in creating more vivid characters and adding interest to the story. His pronunciation of the Dutch language was quite decent but I spotted a couple of mispronounced words, and the fact that Brabant is pronounced in two different ways (one right, one wrong) just caught my attention. Nevertheless, Dutch is not an easy language to pronounce, and I think Gerrard did a very good job dealing with it.

I think the book is what it is: a collection of stories and anecdotes from terrible times, with lots of interesting information for the history aficionado.

I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Essential Audiobooks. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.

Story (Plot)
Overall: four-stars