A Mosaic of Dutch Wartime Experience
Paper 110 pp.
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Motherlode: A Mosaic of Dutch Wartime Experience is Carolyne Van Der Meer’s creative reinterpretation through short stories, poems, and essays of the experiences of her mother and other individuals who either spent their childhoods in Nazi-occupied Holland or were deeply affected by wartime in Holland. The book documents the author’s personal journey as she uncovers her mother’s past through their correspondence and discussion and through research in the Netherlands. Motherlode also considers mother–daughter relationships and the effect of wartime on motherhood.
Motherlode is not about recording precise historical data; rather, it attempts to recover and interpret the complex emotions of the individuals growing up in wartime. The book is based on interviews with the author’s mother and other Dutch Canadians, interviews with and letters from Canadian Jewish war veterans, and information provided by individuals with direct or indirect experience of the Dutch Resistance. The creative pieces explore onderduik (going into/being in hiding), life in an occupied country, the work of the Dutch Resistance, liberation, collective and individual cultural memory, and the way in which wartime childhoods shaped adulthood for these individuals.
Carolyne Van Der Meer is a journalist, public relations professional, and university lecturer. She has undergraduate and graduate degrees in English Literature from the University of Ottawa and Concordia University, respectively, and has a Graduate Certificate in Creative Writing from the Humber School for Writers. She has published journalistic articles, essays, short stories, and poems in publications in Canada and internationally.
“In reading Carolyne Van Der Meer’s remarkable work, Motherlode: A Mosaic of Dutch Wartime Experiences, I was reminded of the intricate lace curtains found on the windows throughout Holland. In this creative reinterpretation of memories and experiences, Van Der Meer has eloquently succeeded in intertwining short stories, poems, and essays with the delicate touch of a fine Dutch lace maker. Based on the recollections of the author’s mother and other Dutch Canadians, as well as letters from and interviews with Canadian soldiers and resistance fighters, Van Der Meer takes these accounts and her first-hand research to craft a compelling view of what we are left with after war’s end.”
— Gina Roitman, The Rover
“Motherlode is Carolyne Van Der Meer’s Orphic journey to reclaim the past of her mother, a child during the five years of Nazi occupation of the Netherlands. The mosaic of poetry, fiction, and reminiscence is her Dodenherdenking, a remembrance of the dead, but also her immersion in the Lake of Memory. Her quest to understand a loved one expresses the need of every child and every parent to know and to be remembered. If the past is a foreign country, Van Der Meer shows us that with empathy and imagination we can enter that land as more than mere tourists.”
— Steven Manners, author of Ondine’s Curse and Valley of Fire
“Content determines form, or, more precisely, the multiple forms that comprise Carolyne Van Der Meer’s unique and moving new book Motherlode: A Mosaic of Dutch Wartime Experiences. Juxtaposing essays, poems, journal entries, letters, interviews, and short stories, Van Der Meer demonstrates how our life story is seldom, if ever, set in stone. Instead, it’s a moving target, a kaleidoscope of the complicated ways in which we choose to remember... Motherlode is part of Wilfrid Laurier University Press’s Life Writing Series. With more than 50 titles to its credit, the series aimes to ‘foreground the stories of those who may never have imagined themselves as writers.’ That said, this is a writerly book. Van Der Meer may not have started out with literary intentions, but by mixing fact and fiction, by involving a cast of peripheral characters—including other Dutch war children, participants in the Dutch Resistance, and Canadian war veterans—she gives a voice to the previously silent ‘voices of the time.’”
— Joel Yanofsky, Montreal Review of Books
“A mesmerizing journey through occupied wartime Netherlands; the voices emerging from the pages are haunting: replete with powerful emotions and modernity.”
— Isabelle Laflèche, author of J’adore New York and J’adore Paris