Helga Ruebsamen

The Song And The Truth

The Song And The Truth


Helga Ruebsamen's extraordinary achievement in this, her first novel to be translated into English, is in finding a voice for a sensitive and highly imaginative child who must endure the painful transition from life in the paradise of the Dutch East Indies to the savage realities of wartime Holland.

Lulu lives on the lush island of Java with her father, a doctor, her narcissistic mother and her Aunt Margot. By day, she plays quietly in the humid heat and tries not to trouble her mother. At night she roams the jungle, creating a magical place of her own in which reality and fantasy merge, where people and animals are transformed by the moonlight into gods and devils.

When Lulu's uncle arrives, filling the day with adventures - bringing even her mother to life- Lulu discovers that the adults have begun visiting her nocturnal world. When she describes to Aunt Margot what she has seen in the night, she triggers a chain of events that lead to her family leaving their sensual tropical paradise and sailing for her father's homeland, Holland. But it is 1939 and Lulu is Jewish. Soon the German invasion is upon them. Her mother flees to England, her aunt returns to Java, and Lulu and her father are forced into hiding. This is a new, cold and hostile world, and Lulu must abandon her childhood, sustained only by her vivid imagination and her fierce, increasingly tested courage.