The Dutch Maiden


A rich and arresting historical romance

Germany, 1936. Nazism is taking hold. Janna, a young Dutch girl, has been sent to the embittered aristocrat Egon von Bötticher to train as a fencer. Bötticher is as eccentric as his training methods, yet the pupil soon finds herself falling for her master—a man tormented by a wartime past in which Janna’s father is implicated. Enthralled and disturbed by this dark world with its strange codes of honor and cruel rites of passage, Janna battles to understand her own desires and her part in the strange relationship between her father and the man who has become her obsession. A masterfully written story that sparkles and effervesces.

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Publication date

August 6, 2019




Marente de Moor

Marente de Moor worked as a correspondent in Saint Petersburg for a number of years and wrote a book based on her experiences… Read more

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?

Author Video EUPL


‘A fascinating read: a gothic romance transplanted to 1930s Germany. De Moor has lined up all the essential gothic elements—powerful currents of sexuality, a rambling old house, a possibly treacherous servant, a dark and brooding man whose true affinity is with the wildness of nature—and sent them on a collision course with concepts that come from somewhere else entirely.’ —The Herald Scotland

‘With Marente de Moor, Dutch literature has won a very original writer, one with an apparently inexhaustible imagination, who will, hopefully, write many more novels as exhilarating as this one.’ —Trouw

‘An ominous atmosphere, moral dilemmas, raging passions—all evoked by beautifully sculpted sentences’ —NRC Handelsblad

‘A masterfully written story that sparkles and effervesces, demonstrating the richness of the language on every page’ —Limburgs Dagblad

‘De Moor’s nature metaphors are of an animalistic power, her reflections are as clever as they are distinctive, and how she evokes the sultry, stormy atmosphere on the eve of World War II testifies to her great storytelling ability.’ —Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung