Matthew 14:6

And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.
Matthew 24:6 KJV

Friday, October 7, 2016

Featured Book: THE THANKFUL: A Novel of the May War of 1940

This Friday I am featuring 
The Thankful: A novel of the May War of 1940 
by Jamie Campbell 

About the Book:

"This is my first war."

Twelve-year-old Ruth Imker has been running her whole life. From Vienna to Cologne. From Cologne to Rotterdam. Running. Always running.

Rotterdam was supposed to be safe. But during the early morning of the tenth of May 1940 the Germans came.

With nowhere to hide, with nowhere safe, Ruth Imker must get off the island of IJsselmonde if she is to survive. The trouble is that the German army wants the island too.

Ruth's unlikely protector is an officer-cadet from Queen Wilhelmina's navy. Together the two are thrown into the midst of the Netherlands' first day of war.


The Thankful is a novel of the May War of 1940. It is a story of courage and survival. Of reliance and unlikely friendships. Most of all it is a story of hope in times where there ought to be none.

You may purchase
The Thankful: A novel of the May War of 1940 here:



At ten metres, Ruth froze in her tracks.
     What is it?”
     A car,” said Ruth.
     Piet could hear it too. “From what direction?”
     I don’t know.”
     The car’s growling engine echoed across the polder – getting closer, getting louder. Is it coming from the east? From the west? Which way to run? On which side of the tramway to hide? Piet saw it first, the cloud of dust from beyond a hedgerow. He grabbed for Ruth’s hand and flung her into the track-side ditch and jumped after her. With the tramway embankment not so high, with the ditch not so deep, there really was no cover. They would be seen; if anyone looked, they could not miss seeing Piet as he lay atop Ruth. As their baggage lay with them.
     And that car. It was slowing. Its brakes squealed. It would stop. Are they Germans? Are they Dutch? Why would the Dutch stop? Germans though, Germans would stop if they were lost – they’d stop to check a map perhaps, to check the lay of the land. Germans. And Piet in uniform. Piet with his sea bag. With his orders. Without a weapon. Piet in the uniform of an Adelborst in the Queen’s Navy during wartime. And with Ruth – half-Jewish Ruth with her ticket to England. Piet dared to look up from where he lay. The car, it had stopped. A soldier got out from the passenger’s side – if he looked he would see Piet.
     We should have run. Why didn’t we run? A thousand thoughts. A thousand things. If only we had left yesterday. If only the invasion had been tomorrow. If only he had led Ruth south at the first thing. If only. Please don’t look. Please. The soldier did look – a German soldier – a sergeant of the paratroops. He looked directly at Piet, ten metres away and scarcely hidden. His rifle, he raised his rifle. Piet tried to raise his hands in surrender. Surrender would give Ruth a chance. A useless gesture. The world would end. A life would end. So unfair. So very unfair.
     The glow came first, the unbelievable flash as the car exploded in flame. Then came the unbelievable noise of it. For Piet, for the sergeant – their worlds slowed to a crawl. In that instance between flash and boom, the sergeant and Piet shared a glance – in that moment of death. The sergeant so certain of his world, of his training, of his duty. So certain of the gift his life would be – for his country, for his Fuhrer. At least until the moment came when his world ended – when he flew through the air and came to land opposite Piet and Ruth. And Ruth screaming with the surprise of it. And Piet’s ears ringing with the smash.
     A shell? A shell from where? Piet tried to capture his mind. He tried to analyse. To formulate a plan. To understand. The car had been blown backwards – so the shell had come from the west. The car was clearly German – so the shell was Dutch. West of here? West of here is Smitshoek. Smitshoek. Smitshoek with its anti-aircraft battery. Had Vrouw v de C mentioned seeing a gun crew at Smitshoek? Had she? She must have seen one. She must have mentioned it too.
     Another explosion from another shell knocked the car’s body clean off its chassis. Clean off. The body and the chassis burned with a fierceness that Piet could feel. Tyres burned, what must have been the petrol tank swirled in furious boiling flame. Dead soldiers lay about. Another sat uselessly at the steering wheel – steering nothing and burning to a crisp. The ammunition those men carried sounded off with the heat: crazy shots directed nowhere and everywhere. Piet felt for Ruth’s suitcase and threw it to the east side of the tram tracks. Then he threw his sea bag.
     We must crawl,” said Piet. “On our bellies.”
     Ruth lived as a jumble of fear. Her hands ached. Her feet, her fingers, her eyes ached too. Her arm hurt so badly as Piet dragged her past the body of a soldier – his uniform smouldering. Ruth’s legs were cut and scratched from being dragged across the tram line. There was darkness too. Had Piet dragged her through a tunnel? And wetness. Was it a drain under the road? And tears, so very many tears. That car, the dead soldiers – they screamed at Ruth. They screamed and screamed no matter how far Piet dragged and carried her. No matter how far along the tramway he made her go. Moments, hours, minutes, years – they made no sense. Rotterdam, Vienna, Köln – they made no sense either. Mutti and Vati, Tante, Tante Anika, Vrouw v de C – all of them were lost. Only Piet. Only Piet’s torment existed for Ruth.
     Walk or I will leave you.”
     Leave me then.”
     He pulled her to her feet. He pushed her in front of him. Stumbling and crying and giving up. A road. There was a road up ahead. A road shrouded with tears. A quiet gravel road with no dust – no Germans – no cars – no explosions. How far had they come? It seemed like miles.

Robyn’s Note:
When I read The Thankful, I found it an insightful and exciting story, extremely tense in some scenes. This book not only informed me of a World War II battleground with which I was not familiar, it prompted me to feel ever so grateful I have never had to experience war conditions. However, because I did not know the basic layout of The Netherlands, nor was I aware of the extensive river system (delta) that makes up such a large part of the setting of this story, I often had trouble visualizing the movement of the characters. Therefore, for your viewing pleasure, I am including a map shared with me by the author. More detailed maps may be found on Wikimedia commons, but this is what you need to help visual the setting of this story.

About Jamie Campbell:

I write books of love and war and tennis - although not always in the same book.

I am a pseudonym, a pen name, a nom de plume. As such, I don't exist in a real sense. I exist to the extent that He lets me exist - at least that's what He tells me.

I am tenuous at best. My very existence is threatened every day - unless I start to pay my way. The threats, the loathing - it really is no way to not quite exist.

I tell Him that I do exist, that I am published. That strangers like what I do, call me literary; lyrical too. I tell Him that I will last for ever - that my achievements are real, tangible - and don't only exist as electrons.

He says I am not real, my achievements are nugatory, transitory; piffling. I tell him that he ought to be like me: lyrical, beautiful - like a cloud. The cloud. He knows the cloud I talk of. The cloud, for what it was, looked close enough to touch; small enough to catch in a butterfly net.

He tells me to shut up. He tells me He has a day job - and it can not wait. And that the cloud is His, and not mine.

I hate Him.

I love him too.

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