The Twins Arcadia by Tessa de Loo
Translated from the Dutch by Ruth Levitt

Two elderly women, one Dutch and one German, meet by chance at the famous health resort of Spa. They recognize in the other their twin sister they believed to be lost. They begin to tell each other their life stories - the last chance to bridge a gulf of almost seventy years.

Born in Cologne in 1916, the twins are brusquely separated from each other after the death of their parents. Anna grows up with hr grandfather, in a primitive farming and Catholic milieu on the edge of the Teutoburgerwald. Lotte ends up in the Netherlands because of her TB, living with an uncle who harbours strong socialist sympathies. Bad relationships between the families and the intervening war cause the contact between the two sisters to be broken. When their paths cross again so late in life, Lotte, who sheltered Jews in hiding during the war, is initially extremely suspicious of her newly-found twin sister. But through Anna’s painful stories she is confronted with the other side of her own reality: the sufferings of ordinary Germans in wartime.

in this monumental novel, Tessa de Loo compellingly weaves the story of two twin sisters separated in childhood with that of two countries opposed in war, and depicts in simple yet harrowing prose the effects of nature and nurture on the individual.

Paperback 2000 English edition

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The Twins Arcadia by Tessa de Loo

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