the Twins by Tessa de Loo (1993)
 Anna and Lotte are twins born in 1916 in Cologne. After their parents die, at the age of 6, they are separated and Lotte grows up in the Netherlands, while Anna stays in Germany. They don’t see each other again, except on two brief occasions, once during the war and once after, until they suddenly meet each other at a peat bath in Spa, Belgium, 70 years later. 
The meeting brings up painful memories for both sisters, and they tell each other stories, mainly from when they got separated and until World War II ended. It is easy to see that the sisters hold a grudge against one other, and that the war has made them enemies.
This is one of those stories which suck you right in and keep you there. I loved it from the beginning to the end, and it is such a fascinating read. I really like how the war is the background, and how Anna and Lotte blame each other sides for letting Hitler carry on. The history of Anna was the one which I found most interesting as I haven’t read much of ordinary life in war-time Germany before. 
A definite must-read if you’re interested in European history or just want a really good story. I have put the film version (and another book by Tessa) on my wish list. 


the Ten Thousand Things by Maria Dermoût (1958)
Felicia returns to the spice garden in the Moluccas where she spent her childhood together with her infant son. Her grandmother is as strange as she was when Felicia was young. She refused to call her Felicia because she disliked that her parents had given her a happy name when they didn’t know if she was happy, and therefore called her just granddaughter.  She has a curiosity cabinet full of strange things which she collects for Felicia’s son. And then there are the three little dead girls who play in the sand.

From there the story moves on to other people on the island, both native and visitors. It is a strange tale, dealing with indigenous beliefs and superstitions meeting the European traditions. But it turned out to be another  beautifully written book which left no significant impression on me. I can’t quite put the finger on why or how, but I had a hard time concentrating on the 208 pages. I guess I just get lost in the prose.

I became curious about this book after reading about it in Wild by Cheryl Strayed; it was one of the books she read on the Pacific Crest Trail. 

I have another similar book, the Tea Lords by Hella S. Haasse, and I’m hoping that one will be better, because it’s interesting to read literature from the former Dutch colonists.