Fear and Faith During War
Snow On The Tulips by Liz Tolsma is a Christian historical novel. It is set in the first few months of 1945 in the occupied Netherlands, as the second world war is drawing to a close.
Cornelia and her brother Johann have already lost so much in the five years occupation. Cornelia tries hard to protect twenty year old Johann who longs for adventure. Sneaking out one night, he rescues injured resistance fighter Gerrit. This tests Cornelia to the limits as if Gerrit is found in their house, they will all be punished.
Liz Tolsma shows Cornelia to be a ‘mothering’ character. She desires to keep everyone safe. Cornelia lost her husband Hans on their wedding night and the first night of the war. She has lived in fear of loss ever since.
Cornelia is shown to the reader as incredibly brave. She is resourceful and has survived the war so far. She doesn’t think she is brave, merely doing what needs to be done in order to survive. She believes in God and thinks that “God used small people to accomplish big goals.” She is only one, but if everyone does what they can, then great things can be achieved.
Within the novel the great courage of the people living through the occupation is shown. People take risks to protect others. “Courage is not a feeling. Courage is an action.” The brave Netherlanders are contrasted with the brutal Nazis.
Liz Tolsma shows how complicated war can be. It changes people for better or for worse. There can be pockets of kindness within the Nazis and there are people willing to betray fellow countrymen.
Cornelia believes in God but believes that He took Hans from her. Cornelia cannot see the free will in Hans choosing to go and fight. She also believes that Hans chose his country over her. War is never simple and there are no black and white answers. Hans was doing what he believed to be his duty. God is a God of love but Cornelia does not recognise Him as such. Will anything make her see God’s true nature?
I enjoyed Snow On The Tulips. As a historian with a passion for World War II literature, I found it informative into the hearts and minds of characters – their fears, hopes and dreams. Although a work of fiction, it is based on some factual happenings. Liz Tolsma writes excellent novels which educate and inform as well as narrate a story.