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Saturday, March 23, 2024

My Thoughts - The Girl with the Red Hair written by Imogen Matthews


The Girl with the Red Hair

Imogen Matthews

My heart thrashes inside my chest as I watch my best friend get dragged away by German soldiers. I run towards her, begging them to stop, but then I see the gun. ‘No, please!’ I shout as panicked tears stream down my face. ‘Don’t hurt her!’ I’m the only one left who can save her…

1942, Amsterdam. The Nazi occupation has shattered the lives of inseparable best friends Hannie and Sonja. The canals and rainy cobbled streets they once strolled down are now patrolled by soldiers day and night, who arrest people at will and beat those who resist.

Hannie can’t stand by and watch the lives of the innocent be destroyed by the evil occupiers. At great danger to herself, she joins the underground resistance, where she meets the charming and mysterious Jan. She covers her bright red hair to avoid detection by the Nazis while distributing fake IDs. And she makes a promise to Sonja and her little sister Maya, who are Jewish – she will hide them and keep them safe, no matter the cost.

But as the German grip on the country tightens with each passing day, Sonja’s worst fears come true when members of her family are taken prisoner. With Jan by her side, Hannie goes undercover as a nurse to try to free them. But she’s devastated when she discovers they’ve been taken to a concentration camp in the isolated far east of the country. Is she too late to save them?

And when Sonja goes missing, Hannie is terrified the worst has happened – has someone betrayed her best friend? Hannie knows her most dangerous task is now ahead of her. Can Hannie save Sonja, and will she have to make the biggest sacrifice of all to bring her home?

Inspired by the incredible true-life story of a brave young Dutch woman who would stop at nothing to fight for justice and freedom, The Girl with the Red Hair is an utterly heart-wrenching and emotional World War Two novel of one woman’s bravery and sacrifice. Perfect for fans of Heather Morris, Kristin Hannah and Fiona Valpy.


A portrait of the author Imogen Matthews

Imogen Matthews is an Oxford-based, award-winning author and journalist with an interest in forgotten stories from WW2 Holland. Imogen was born in Rijswijk, Holland, to a Dutch mother and English father who moved the family to England when Imogen was very young. All her life, she listened to her mother’s stories about her life in Holland, in particular the hardships she faced during the Hunger Winter in 1944-5, which has had a profound impact on her writing.


 The Girl with the Red Hair is written by Imogen Matthews. I have read a lot of World War II books the past year, and this one definitely ranks in the top 5 of the ones that I have read. The author does a wonderful job in capturing raw emotions of those who lived during the Nazi occupation. 

Hannie is horrified when her best friend, Sonja is drug away by German Soldiers. She cannot believe what she is seeing. She cannot believe the evil that has come to her town. She makes a decision. She decides to join the underground resistance. She wants to keep a promise she made to Sonja and her sister - keeping them safe. 

Hannie wants so hard to push back and reclaim the previous way of life. She starts taking assignment after assignment, and each one seems to become more dangerous. She is in charge of distributing fake identification cards. One of the things that stick out with Hannie is the bright red hair. She knows to remain undetected, she must mask this. Sonja seems to rebel against being in hiding - and Hannie just wants to keep her safe. 

I had no idea this was based off a true story. I love stories that are like this. The book was well researched and once you start reading, you will not want to put it down. 

Thank you to the author and publisher for allowing me to read a copy of this book - all thoughts are my own. 


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