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Reviewed by Heather Osborne for Readers' Favorite
The Old Gilt Clock by Paulette Mahurin chronicles the life of Dutch resistance fighter Willem Arondeus. The novel begins with his experiences through childhood, including the abuse he faced from his alcoholic father. Realizing at a young age that he was homosexual, Willem never shies from his sexuality and is open about his relationships with men. Also a novelist and artist, Willem not only publishes an anti-Nazi pamphlet but begins working with another Dutch resistance member to forge documents for Jewish people in their town. However, their assistance is soon discovered thanks to the Amsterdam registry office. Willem is not to be deterred and comes up with a plan that he hopes will foil the Nazis’ attempts to deport Jewish people to concentration camps.
This is possibly the first historical novel I have read about a Dutch resistance fighter. Although the novel does focus a bit on Willem’s sexuality, it’s merely a part of who he is and doesn’t detract from his drive to help the people of their town escape from Nazi persecution. After some of my own research, I believe Mahurin has given life to an unsung hero of World War II, of which there are many. I applaud how she intermingles history into her fiction, producing a novel that is both heartbreaking and hopeful. I never knew how much the Dutch people resisted the Nazi occupation during the war. The Old Gilt Clock by Paulette Mahurin is certainly a must-read for anyone interested in resistance fighters during World War II.