Cover Image: Chasing Shadows

Chasing Shadows

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This was an interesting viewpoint of life during German occupation in the Netherlands. I think this is the first time I’ve read a novel about the intensity of living under the enemy’s rule, even though Holland was considered a neutral territory during the war. This story focuses on the underground work of the Dutch Resistance.

I could picture the countryside where Lena and Pietr’s farm is; where they helped the “shadow people” hide. I could picture the big cities where Ans moved and helped a family friend from sinking into depression. There is a colorful cast of characters that make the story quite interesting – never knowing if one could trust the other. Characters were from all walks of life and abilities which really made the story refreshing to read. I especially appreciated the scene showing the humanity of a young Nazi soldier who longed to be home.

However, the ending was a bit too happy for the type of story it was. I won’t spoil it, but I thought it should have turned out differently for a couple of the characters.

I received an ecopy from the publisher through NetGalley. All opinions expressed are my own.
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For fans of WWII fiction comes a powerful novel from Lynn Austin about three women whose lives are instantly changed when the Nazis invade the neutral Netherlands. Lena is a wife and mother who farms alongside her husband in the tranquil countryside. Her faith has always been her compass, but can she remain steadfast when the questions grow increasingly complex and the answers could mean the difference between life and death?  Lena’s daughter Ans has recently moved to the bustling city of Leiden, filled with romantic notions of a new job and a young Dutch police officer. But when she is drawn into Resistance work, her idealism collides with the dangerous reality that comes with fighting the enemy. Miriam is a young Jewish violinist who immigrated from Germany for the safety she thought Holland would offer. She finds love in her new country, but as her family settles in Leiden, the events that follow will test them in ways she could never have imagined.  The story that unfolds illuminates the surprising endurance of the human spirit and the power of faith and love to carry us through.

I have read several books by this author and loved them all, but this is the first one dealing with WWII. I love how she develops and describes her characters, and her descriptions of The Netherlands are so vivid that you feel like you are there.  I have read many WWII historical fiction, but this is the first that described how the war affected The Netherlands.  Thank you to NetGally and the publisher for allowing me to read this book even though it was newly published.
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I've read many WW II books over the years, and a lot of them are recent publications. The best ones take a unique perspective on the horrors of that war. As much as I wanted to like Chasing Shadows, it felt very derivative to me. There were words used that didn't fit the historical period and the place--e.g., German paddy wagon is cited in OED as American slang and as such doesn't fit use by the Germans. Someone, author or editor, should have questioned things like that. The ending was probably satisfying for some readers, but it was unrealistic to me for everyone to have not only survived each situation but also to have come back together in a matter of hours, maybe days. The novel was fine, but not great in my opinion.
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I have been a long time fan of author Lynn Austin - but I believe Chasing Shadows is one of her very best books.  I appreciate reading historical fiction especially pertaining to WW II.   Chasing Shadows involves the stories of a variety of characters whose lives interact in Holland in the early 1940’s.   Some of the characters are Jews who have fled from Germany to find safety in Holland before the Nazi invasion..  Other key characters are Dutch citizens, both Christian and Jewish whose lives intersect and are forever altered by the Nazi regime’s take over of their nation.  Chasing Shadows is a rich and full faceted story of individuals who faced circumstances and austerity they never could have imagined.  The characters are complex and compelling and I found this book a rich page turner.   Highly recommend! 

 I am grateful to NetGalley and Tyndale House for an advanced reader copy.  The review above is my own honest. opinion.
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Grab your tissues before beginning this book because you are going to need them! Austin has really outdone herself with this story. It weaves faith, perseverance, determination, courage, and so much more. There is love, war, family, and sacrifice written in every single chapter. The points hit me hard. At times I needed to stop and take a breath, allowing myself to digest what I'd just read. Yes, some of it was hard. But it's written during one of the cruelest times in the world. But there was also triumph, joy, and love. It was the perfect blend of all the emotions.

Austin gives readers a look into three different lives, but it never become overwhelming or confusing. I could easily follow along and remember which character belonged to which back story. All three women, as well as several of the secondary characters, are easy to connect and sympathize with. You cannot help but keep the pages turning, biting your nails to see what happens next, wondering which character may or may not survive. And in reading, you gain glimpses into how it could have been for real people back in the days of WWII. Quite often we just think of the concentration camps, and how horrendous that was. But there was so much more going on that we either don't realize, or do not give credit to. I'm thankful Austin opened my eyes to that.

Historical fiction fans will devour this book. Again, have the tissues nearby. It's not a light read, however it is an amazing read. I highly recommend! I received a complimentary copy of this book. I was not required to write a favorable review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
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Wow! I am always amazed at how much I learn by reading books like this one about WWII. This author allows readers to see this war from a few POVs. First through Lena a preacher’s kid who married a farmer, the love of her life. They were happy, but their daughter Ans is not. She wants to move to the city of Leiden. She was tired of the smell of manure and doing the never-ending farm chores. Not only that, she dreamed of the excitement in the city, the culture and doing no more farm chores. This had her at odds with her parents.

Ans meets Miriam in Leiden, she is amazed at how this beautiful Jewish violinist can play. Her father and she moved to Leiden in hopes of bringing the rest of their family with them, once they settled. But the war changed the hopes and dreams for everyone, including this family.

The author says, “Chasing Shadows was not an easy novel to write… Telling the story of life in the Netherlands during World War II meant that I had to take readers to some very dark places. I pray that in doing so, I also showed how faithfully Jesus walks beside us through those dark valleys.”

Yes, there were some gritty parts, but not as gruesome as it could have been. This is not a lighthearted read, but one that will inspire you and give you courage to face life beyond 2020. The spiritual thread is strong, but not preachy. These women cling to the faith of their youth and in other cases learn of faith for the first time, as others shined their light in the darkness and as they went through hard times together. This book will stay with you long after you read the last page. It’s a memorable read and one that will work well for your book club pick. 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have received a complimentary copy of this book by the publisher through NetGalley. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”

Nora St. Laurent
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins!
The Book Club Network blog www.bookfun.org
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I was thrilled when I found out that I’d be able to read this book! Although it took several tries to get through this story, I finally managed to carve out two delightful hours to finish it, and wow…this is an incredible story. In the grand scheme of things, comparing it to other books that share the same history, it might not be that different—except that it brought different aspects to life to me. The slow clampdown got worse and worse as the Nazis started to separate Jews from the Dutch people. The famine that came near the end of the war, where people ate tulip bulbs to survive…it all came to life. And the characters were strong, dynamic, and relatable. Each struggled with their own fears or dreams, but each kept going, the promise of hope at the end always leading them on. Even when things went terribly wrong.

There have been many WWII books written. But this one? It deserves its place on the shelf. An excellent story, all around.

I was given a review copy of this book, and this is my honest opinion of it.
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It has been a few years since I’ve read Lynn Austin, but I know she’s good for a solid, well-researched story. This one did not at all disappoint.

The characters were so good! You felt them being torn in different directions as Germany overtook the Netherlands. Their fear and struggles were palpable and I was immersed in how real the different perspectives were during WWII. I may have cried for several parts. It was realistic, heart-wrenching, and oh so good.

The spiritual content was amazing. Lessons of following God in hard times, letting go and giving it to God, and trusting God were the heartbeat of this story.

There was romance, but it was part of the character’s normal life and not brought out with emotional passions.

Occasionally, particularly in the beginning, the story seemed to be written in paraphrase style as there was so many details to the story and I feel she was limited on word count. I would have liked more depth to some parts, but I also realize this is my personal writing style preference.

I highly recommend this for someone who loves WWII, the Resistance, and more serious stories.

*I received this book from the publisher and happily provided my honest review*
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Thank you Lynn Austin, NetGalley, and Tyndale House for the #gifted book!

Synopsis: “Jesus said the most important commands are to love the Lord your God and love your neighbor. And so, whenever we face a dilemma, we can ask, What is the best way to show our love for God and our neighbor?” The Nazis have begun to rise to power in Germany, but for Lena, Ans, and Miriam, the war still seems far away. The Netherlands has always stayed neutral, and here, Lena, a faith-filled farmer’s wife, has always lived a quiet life. But her daughter, Ans, is tired of her quiet church life and leaves her home to find a city bigger and better. Miriam, a German Jew, is searching for safety in a welcoming new country. When their paths cross in devastating circumstances, these three women find themselves in the ultimate test of faith: Can God be trusted even in the most difficult times?

Analysis: It’s been a long time since I’ve read a Lynn Austin novel, but this book reminded me just how much I love her writing! Lena’s, Ans’s, and Miriam’s stories are alternated throughout the book showing how they all connect, and each of the characters are beautifully written. My only negative is that the story felt slow at first. But as events picked up, I had to find out what happened to them and their families. The most beautiful thing about this book is the emphasis on faith. Lynn based this story on the Dutch Christians who helped many people survive the persecution of the Nazi party. This book left my heart hopeful and my faith inspired, and I know it would do the same for you!

Star Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

Content Warning: loss of loved ones, violence, Holocaust
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It's been awhile since I've read a Lynn Austin historical novel and it did not disappoint. As per her style she did not shy away from the hard parts but wrote them with grace and style. The story will both entertain and engross the reader. 
I love when I walk away from reading an historical novel and know something I didn't know before. That is just one of the things that makes historical fiction so wonderful!
Highly recommended!
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Chasing Shadows, by Lynn Austin, is a remarkable work of historical fiction. Set in the Netherlands during WWII, this powerful novel is engrossing and thoroughly moving as it tells the story of three women linked together through love and war. With unflinching skill, Ms. Austin leads the reader on an intense journey through horrific events that test the resiliency of the human heart and the human will to fight for significance and survival. Yet, this journey through and beyond tragedy and despair is strengthened and uplifted by honest moments of grace and gentle reminders that hope, healing, and restoration are ultimately made possible through God’s love and mercy.

Under the tyranny of an evil regime, the uncertainty of daily life in the Netherlands during WWII becomes unfathomable, especially for the persecuted Jewish people and those committed to helping them. It is within this setting that the characters come alive to the reader. These well-developed characters are authentic, vulnerable, and captivating. Their questions, their insecurities, their fears, their needs, and their desires are wholly believable, gut-wrenching, and inspiring. As they face unimaginable losses and uncertainties, they struggle with their faith and God’s specific purposes for their lives. Yet through it all, they demonstrate determination, perseverance, and courage as they bravely endeavor to help each other and save others during many dangerous situations brought on by the cruelties of war, racism, and selfish ambition. The opportunities, the choices, and the trials that the characters endure are intricately developed, and from them there unfolds a story that is truly surprising, enriching, and profoundly memorable.   

Ms. Austin is an incredibly gifted author with a real talent for meaningful storytelling. In Chasing Shadows, she offers the reader a heartfelt and utterly touching story of loss, love, faith, and family. This is a novel that courageously explores humanity’s capacity for love and hate, hope and despair, self-sacrifice and cruelty, perseverance and struggle, and faithfulness and uncertainty. Within this book, the well-researched details and descriptions ensure that every moment spent reading this story is a thoughtful, immersive experience. From the gripping plot, to the extraordinary characters, to the compelling themes, this novel easily held my attention page after page. Chasing Shadows is a book I wholeheartedly recommend to anyone who enjoys outstanding historical fiction.  

*I was given a copy of this book by the publisher and NetGalley. A review was not required. The review I have written is voluntary and contains opinions that are entirely my own.
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I haven't read a lot on the role of the Dutch in WWII, so this book was a pleasant way to rectify that.  Through following one family and their friends, it paints a broad picture of the resistance work in the Netherlands. I liked how the author took into account many kinds of people, not just the whole, hearty, and brave: Eloise, with her PTSD-induced bipolar disorder from her experiences in WWI; Miriam, with her anxiety disorder; the residents of the home for the mentally handicapped; those who were too afraid to fight back; even a young Nazi soldier who just longs for home.

For all that it largely takes place under German occupation, with the laws an ever-tightening noose around the Jews and Dutch resistance, I didn't feel a lot of tension in the story. When Miriam was being moved, or Ans out on assignment for the underground, I never had the tightening in my gut, that worry of, "is this the time they get caught?" There were so few consequences to their activities early on that it was a surprise when things actually did happen. I didn't think it was boring, but at the same time, I found it easy to put down. There's a strong, encouraging element of faith that runs through the story. It was good, but I like a lot of the author's other works significantly more. 

Thank you Tyndale House and NetGalley for the complimentary e-book. I was not required to write a positive review, and all opinions are my own.
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Chasing Shadows is a moving novel about several women and what they faced during the Nazis invasion of the neutral Netherlands.  Their lives were for ever changed and this story weaves their intriguing stories together in a masterful way. They faced persecution, separation, and unspeakable hardship as their faith in God was challenged. 

This was an eye-opening work of Christian Fiction and made me more aware of what the Jewish people faced at the hands of the Nazis.  Yes, we study it in school but there is something different when you read about it in a story, a story filled with human emotion.  I was personally challenged about how I would have reacted.  Would I have had the tenacity to stay strong or would I have given up.  

I liked how the author weaved the story that brought these families together.  The characters were very appealing, and their lives draw you into the story.  These were graphic times, but she subtly alluded to the horrors, so you knew what was happening without gruesome detail. 

I am an avid reader of this author’s work and I think this is one of her best. I am drawn to World War II stories in Christian fiction, and I highly recommend this work.  The enduring human spirit with the power of faith will draw you in and challenge you.
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As I finish this book on Independence Day, I am reminded of the freedoms that we celebrate in this country may not have always been free. Lynn Austin paints the reader directly into the heart of WWII. The tragedy, the sacrifices and the triumph in the end all capture the attention and heart of the reader. As the gospel of Christ is interwoven into the motives of the main characters, we see Bible verses come to life. Deeper meaning into what Christ wants us to do, and how we should treat our neighbors are depicted between the pages. I thoroughly enjoyed this book.
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As a long time fan of Lynn Austin’s historical fiction novels, I found this newest release, Chasing Shadows, to be yet another novel that will become one of my beloved favorites. Lynn’s novels inspire a reader not just to turn the pages, but to feel her words with their heart and soul as well. 

Chasing Shadows is simply excellent…

I love how Lynn masterfully creates a heartwarming story that doesn’t shy from the perils and reality of war, while allowing her characters to grow, deepen and blossom. She brought the Dutch Netherlands alive, creating a beautifully woven narrative of bravery, hope and faith in a time when our world experienced some of its darkest days. 

The remarkable characters Lynn expertly creates demonstrate the courage, dedication and determination of those who worked the Resistance during WWII.  In this particular story, she not only showcases their innermost feelings and desires, but also skillfully demonstrates the evil present in that time as well as human’s sin nature in looking the other way to selfishly preserve one’s self… She balances this with a message of hope, faith and obedience that is so refreshing and poignant in even today’s society. 

The rich, historical significance and details to this novel are clearly well researched and displayed. This novel is well written, the character development is inspirational and relatable. I fell in love with Lynn’s many characters and felt their heart-wrenching decisions, joys and struggles deeply. Again, this novel is one that I know will be a long time favorite of mine and one that I highly encourage other WWII fiction lovers to immerse themselves in.
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This is such a wonderful book! Lynn Austin wrote such an amazing story in this one! She didn’t shy away from the gritty parts, but wrote them with grace. This book left me evaluating my faith and if I would have been able to do what these ladies had to do. This one is definitely a keeper! I would highly recommend this book for historical fiction fans!


I received a complimentary copy from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine alone.
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What would you sacrifice to save a stranger? Is your faith big enough to accept what God sends your way? Which is bigger - your problem or your God? Lynn Austin provides readers with plenty of food for thought. 

Three ordinary women, Ans, Lena and Miriam, are confronted with a choice when the Nazis invade neutral Netherlands: accept and become complacent or unite and defy the occupying force during WW2. The Nazis were hoping that the Dutch would side with them as they let it be known that they considered the Dutch members of the Aryan race and invited them to join in building the Reich. Life would have been easier to accept and join, BUT they couldn’t have lived with their choice. Austin’s story focuses on the challenges and repercussions these women faced in choosing to stand up against the enemy. Sometimes, the choice was costly. 

I was in awe, knowing that their little country was surrounded by the enemy on all sides, yet they held to their convictions. It was easy to be lulled into thinking all would be ok as they went about their work, business as usual, during the ‘phoney war’ but for readers, knowing what lay in wait added to the tension. Risking their lives for sheltering others would mean famine and suffering. The three main characters are all in different seasons of life and have different outlooks on the world. I identified most with Lena simply because age gives me perspective; however, I do remember what it was like to have 19 year old Ans’s attitude. Like Miriam, I resort to music when I’m stressed. Regardless, each woman grew stronger as a result of her wartime experience. 

My favourite take-away is in Lena’s growth. She used to believe that the enemy of faith was doubt, but by the end she’d learned that fear was actually faith’s destroyer. 

This is an intense and emotional look at darkest days of war and the encouragement found by digging deep to rely on one’s faith and in relying on the strength of friends. 

“How can God remain silent and do nothing in the face of all this evil?”

I was gifted this copy by Lynn Austin, Tyndale House and NetGalley and was under no obligation to provide a review.
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I have read several books by Lynn Austin, & I have to say this was not my favorite by her. I did like that it was set in the Netherlands as there are very few WWII novels that I am aware of that talk about that country in them.

I could tell also that the author had done a lot of research about what went on with the safe houses for the Jewish people, & I liked that even though this was fiction she made it seem very realistic. It was definitely a difficult novel to read, & I had a very hard time finishing it because of all of the horrible scenarios.
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Chasing Shadows is a haunting  beautiful story set during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands. Lynn Austin beautifully weaves a tale of countrymen  and women risking their very lives to fight against evil and save the innocent men, women, and children from being massacred by the German Nazis. God's love shines throughout the story. Lynn Austin is able to bring this setting to life with her vivid descriptions and characters. She has become one of my favorite authors of historical fiction!
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"Chasing Shadows" is a Christian historical set in June 1939 to Fall 1945 in Netherlands. This story had three point view characters and occurred over six years. Usually I have problems with many POV characters or years lapsing, but this was extremely well written. The author kept me completely engaged with all of the characters. Though I've read "The Hiding Place," I had no idea just how courageous the Dutch people were when faced with the Nazi invasion. This was both an interesting story and very educational as well.

Historical details were woven into the story without slowing the pacing, and things happen naturally (not forced so that the author could include some detail). The setting details brought the story alive in my imagination and immersed me in the story. All of the characters came across as real, complex people, and I understood why they acted the way they did. I cared about what happened to the main characters, so the ending became very suspenseful as their lives became increasingly endangered.

One couple was Jewish, but the other main characters were Christian. Their faith was why they risked their lives for others, and it was how they could reach out to help others even when faced with depressing and discouraging circumstances. The reader also sees how God is at work in and through His people. There was no bad language or sex scenes. Overall, I'd highly recommend this interesting, immersive historical novel.
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