The Dutch Maiden

The Dutch Maiden

By Marente de Moor

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In the summer of 1936, Janna, a young Dutch fencer, is sent away to stay with her father’s old friend, a German, Egon von Bötticher. Egon had returned injured and embittered from the front at the end of the First World War, and now teaches fencing, and organizes bloody duels. In this strange world, Janna, intrigued by her unfeeling maître d’armes, starts looking for answers. What happened between Egon and her father? Which of them has to settle old scores?…
Read more about this book







Literary novel




David Doherty

Original Title

De Nederlandse maagd

Year of publication



‘Her natural metaphors come with animalistic power, her reflections are as clever as distinctive and the way she conjures up the sultry, stormy atmosphere on the eve of the Second World War testifies of great story-telling ability.’—Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

About the author

Marente de Moor

Marente de Moor, from the Netherlands, worked as a correspondent in Saint Petersburg for a number of years before she made a succesful debut as a novelist. For her second novel, The Dutch Maiden (2010), she was awarded The European Union Prize for Literature and the AKO Literature Prize. The novel sold over 70,000 copies in the Netherlands and has been translated into ten languages. Photo: © Juergen Bauer

Book Club Questions

Book Club Questions

  1. How could you describe the change in Egon’s character after his return from Amsterdam?
  2. Do you think this change in character is likely to cause him to warm somewhat to the Nazis?
  3. Many characters speak of the role of passion and reason in fencing, but also in life in general. Did you find yourself nodding in agreement with any of them? Why?
  4. Did any of the Nazis’, Janna’s, her father’s, or Egon’s thoughts on animals and nature make you stop and think? Do you agree or disagree with them? Why?
  5. Can you come up with a reason why Janna might be so consistently upset with animal cruelty and slaughter? Is she simply good-natured?
  6. What do you think of the portrayal of memory and history in this novel? Are there any scenes which capture the specific relationships the book’s characters have with these things?
  7. What do you think of the setting? Was it recognizable, or perfectly symbolic?
  8. Did the book make you reconsider some of your intuitions on Nazi philosophy? Are there clear good and bad sides in the divide between the traditionalists (Egon and the Otter) and the growing majority of revolutionaries?
  9. Does our rejection and demonization of the Nazi movement rob us of the capacity to understand where they’re coming from?
  10. What is the role of the intimate encounters with men that occur during Janna’s maturation?
  11. Are there other specific moments or thoughts which also represent a step forward in her maturation? Are they recognizable kinds of events?
  12. Did any of the vivid images (descriptions of objects, surroundings, characters, scenes …) catch your imagination? Which one(s), and why?