I did say Tamar this week, right? Well, even if I didn’t, I did. Got it? Got it?

Tamar by Mal Peet

Tamar by Mal Peet

When the wagon was almost upon him, and when he could almost feel the bullets tear into his chest, Dart raised his right forearm in a vaguely Nazi gesture. “Guten Morgen!” he cried, and when they were alongside he aimed his smile straight into the muzzles of the German rifles.

Oh boy, I love this book so much, and, as I said before, it is the sole reason why I read Keeper and The Penalty also by Peet.

Tamar is the story of a teenage girl, named after her grandfather, exploring his life after his death in 1995. Her grandfather was a member of the SOE (Special Operations Executive), a Dutch spy sent to Holland, along with another, to unite the resistance forces working there. Their codenames were Tamar and Dart, rivers in the South of England. They live in secrecy and lies, surrounded by suspicion and betrayal. Their work is sometimes horrifying, sometimes filled with boredom and punctuated with an absolute fear of getting caught and killed by Nazi soldiers, or worse.

However, in present day England, Tamar knows nothing of her grandfather Tamar’s past. She is left a box, for her to explore and work out the clues of his tangled web of a past.

Tamar is a book that needs to be read twice. But not straight away, a few months later when the more intricate details of the book have faded. So when it is read again, you pick up on the small things; the small asides that Peet cleverly includes early on in the novel.

I found this book conveyed such sheer emotive force to the reader. The characters are so realistic, that you become attached to them and their fates. Both primary and main characters have their own morals and own reasons for being a part of this Dutch resistance, rather than there for the story’s sake. The character development is poignantly written, as you learn more about Tamar and Dart and their lives.

The writing is just beautiful, Peet shows so much skill in describing the bleakness of the landscape that the two spies are faced with, and just what these two men have to do to survive. The story weaves in and out of the past and present, and when they merge in the finale, all the threads suddenly come into place, and Peet presents you with a rich tapestry of lives.

Tamar is sometimes funny, sometimes sad and sometimes truly horrifying, as only WWII novels can be. Like One Day, I have nothing negative to say about Tamar. It is an excellent book and I believe it should be read by everyone, which is why I would definitely support you going out to buy it RIGHT NOW.

Winner of a Carnegie Medal, Tamar has plenty of critical acclaim, I just wanted to give it some more. It is such a descriptive and absorbing novel, that I truly think no one can not enjoy it. But you have to read it twice.

Rating: five out of five books

five out of five

(Why are you reading this? GO. BUY.)


Next week: Capacity by Theo Ellsworth

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  1. Romantic Vampire Lover on 3 September 2009, 10:08 said:

    Ooh, I love Mal Peet. Nice review, as usual, Jeni. ;)

  2. Puppet on 3 September 2009, 12:01 said:

    I should read this sometime. Nice review, Jeni.

  3. Danielle on 3 September 2009, 13:25 said:

    I can’t say I’ve read anything by Mal Peet, but this book sounds good. I’ll have to see if I can find it.

  4. Northmark on 3 September 2009, 18:21 said:

    Squee, I’m also a crazy fan of this book.

    This article reminded me that it would be a good idea to reread it soon. :D

  5. swenson on 3 September 2009, 19:25 said:

    Hmph. I’m replying, happy? :grumpy face:

    Anyway… sounds like a good book. Never heard of Mal Peet before, though. I’ll have to add it to my list of books to read… which at the moment is running rather low. Meh. I’ll check the local library.

    But… I just can’t get over the name. “Tamar”. Sooooo many connotations there… (provided you’ve read Genesis, of course)

  6. Virgil on 3 September 2009, 19:27 said:

    Lalal alla la! I’m so happy! Weee….! I’m the happiest lad this side of that missile testing range!

  7. Snow White Queen on 3 September 2009, 22:12 said:

    Yeah, this book was great…end was such a shocker.

  8. NeuroticPlatypus on 5 September 2009, 17:42 said:

    I’ll have to read this now.
    Great review, Jeni.

  9. Jeni on 6 September 2009, 09:22 said:

    @Northmark: YES. Re-read! It’s always nice to see other crazy fans. ^^

  10. Puppet on 8 September 2009, 20:01 said:

    Okay, I commented, feel better? D:

  11. Butterfly on 8 September 2009, 20:13 said:

    I’ve had this book recommended to me on several occasion, but this is a first time that I’ve come across a review :)

    And a gread review, too, Jeni. I should really pick this up sometime.