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The Cut Out Girl Reviews

The Cut Out Girl by Bart van Es

The Cut Out Girl

A Story of War and Family, Lost and Found

Bart van Es

4.43 out of 5

3 reviews

Category: History, Non-fiction
Imprint: Fig Tree
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
Publication date: 15 Jul 2018
ISBN: 9780241284995

he enthralling story of a man's search for the truth about his family's past The last time Lien saw her parents was in the Hague when she was collected at the door by a stranger and taken to a city far away to be hidden from the Nazis. She was raised by her foster family as one of their own, but a falling out well after the war meant they were no longer in touch. What was her side of the story, Bart van Es - a grandson of the couple who looked after Lien - wondered?

1 Prize for The Cut Out Girl

Costa Book Awards
2018 Category Winner

Winner: Best Biography of the Year

The Costa Judges: ‘The hidden gem of the year. Sensational and gripping, and shedding light on some of the most urgent issues of our time, this was our unanimous winner.’


4 stars out of 5
Rebecca Abrams
18 Jan 2019

"Alongside its disquieting inquiry into the pathways to moral bankruptcy"

A chilling portrayal of trauma and its aftermath, The Cut Out Girl is not only a testament to Lien’s resilience, but also to the bravery of the van Es family and others like them, who took great risks to save innocent lives. In both strands of this narrative, van Es remains admirably honest about the complex, contradictory aspects of human interactions. His book is infinitely the richer for it.

4 stars out of 5
PD Smith
7 Jan 2019

"a moving account of wartime survival"

Winner of the 2018 Costa biography award, this deeply moving account of Lien’s life is the result of his personal journey into the history of his family and his country’s treatment of the Jews. Many felt their suffering was not adequately acknowledged after the war. Unbelievably, some even received tax demands for the time they spent in the camps. Writing with an almost Sebaldian simplicity and understatement, Van Es weaves together history and Lien’s recollections to tell the story of her traumatic childhood.

5 stars out of 5
Gerard DeGroot
7 Dec 2018

"This is a necessary book — painful, harrowing, tragic, but also uplifting"

Van Es tells Lien’s story with stark simplicity. That’s entirely appropriate, since elegant prose would be superfluous to this harrowing tale. The drama lies in the events, not in the manner of their reconstruction. Descriptions of Lien’s life are juxtaposed with accounts of the author’s experiences while piecing together her war. He found so much that she did not know. Van Es, a professor of English at the University of Oxford, calls her the “cut out girl” because she was so easily removed from one scene and placed in another. She was often unaware of the holes she left behind. In some households she was cherished like a daughter or a sister, only to vanish without a goodbye. One gift Van Es was able to give Lien was evidence that she had been loved.