Monday, September 24, 2012

The Seventh Etching by Judith K. White



Book Description:

A historic family drama based in and near 1640 Amsterdam, the wealthiest city on earth at the time, The Seventh Etching tells the story of two families over a one-year period. Both Griet and Johannes Verhoeven, farmers, in their early 20's and Jos and Myriam Broekhof, wealthy merchants in their 30's, face devastating losses that threaten their livelihoods and their marriages.

After a major flood, Griet and Johannes attempt to rebuild two combined family farms - a unique, promising inheritance that initially brought them together, but now overwhelms them. Myriam secretly sells her husband's valuable art collection to build a hidden monument to her deceased daughter. Jos suffers despair and defeat as he combs every corner of the city in his obsessive attempt to complete a set of playfully erotic etchings.

It is a six-year old Gypsy orphan, Nelleke, who connects the two couples. Sprightly and spirited, Nelleke both delights and exasperates. Might this mysterious child have the power to heal struggling adults and find the permanent home she seeks? Does she, innocently and unknowingly, hold the clue to the missing etching, as Jos suspects?

Review:

The Seventh Etching gives readers a fascinating glimpse into 17th century Amsterdam. This novel is the story of two families suffering strife, and covers both extreme wealth and poverty during the era. 

To read this book is like taking a trip back in time to experience the social, political, and religious circumstances. With meticulous detail, the author describes food, clothing, and art, lending the novel credence and richness.   

Beyond the well-written prose and lush storyline are the characters who face numerous struggles and behave in realistic manners. No novel of Amsterdam is complete without reference to its famous painters. I thoroughly enjoyed the scene with Rembrandt. This is a rich historical fiction novel set in a lesser known country with plenty of conflict and details that will keep readers reading. Definitely recommended!