A Heart of Stone

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Viking, Jan 1, 2001 - Fiction - 243 pages
2 Reviews
Renate Dorrestein is that rare storyteller who dazzles critics and captivates readers. Provocative, stylish, and emotionally resonant, A Heart of Stone (her first book to be translated into English) is certain to cause a sensation on the international scene and Viking is proud to introduce her to the American public.

This beautifully woven masterpiece, spare yet richly told, plumbs the undercurrents of family life and tragedy in a startling and wise story of love, fate, and survival. Ellen Van Bemmel lives with her parents, who run an American news-clipping service, and her three siblings in an old Dutch house in a suburb of Amsterdam. Ellen's idyllic childhood is suffused with Americana, both the frivolous fringes like potato chips and Coca-Cola as well as milestones like Neil Armstrong's first steps on the moon, until family disaster strikes on her twelfth birthday. From that moment on her world begins to unravel. Years later, Ellen plunges us into the past as she leafs through a faded photo album and confronts the literal and figurative ghosts of her child-hood. Seamlessly alternating the past and present, taut with Hitchcockian tension and warmed by a redemptive love story, A Heart of Stone tells a darkly humorous, yet ultimately compassionate tale.

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User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

The history of a destroyed family and the mingled guilt and rage that possess the survivor who remembers, and reimagines, their story—all rendered with hallucinatory clarity in this first English ... Read full review

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User Review  - LukeS - LibraryThing

A terrific example of a deft translation, "Een Hart en Steen," or "A Heart of Stone," is moving family fiction. A horror befalls a close family in the Netherlands, and a mother dies. Through most of ... Read full review


Fritscollege years autumn 1956 or 1957
Sybilles first day at the beach August 1958
Idas christening 4 September 1972

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About the author (2001)

Renate Dorrestein, award-winning author of "A Heart of Stone," is one of Holland's best loved and bestselling novelists.
Hester Velmans's translation of "A Heart of Stone" won the Vondel Prize for Translation in 2001.

ISABEL HOVING was born in Amsterdam. She began her career as a secondary-school teacher, during which time she became very active in the Dutch women's movement. She eventually gave up her job to study literary theory full-time and spent some months in Senegal, West Africa, for a research project -- an experience that gave her a completely different perspective on the world and that she describes as a turning point in her life. Now a lecturer at Leiden University, Isabel Hoving lives with her partner and son in Amsterdam.

HESTER VELMANS has translated a number of novels from Dutch into English, including THE LILY THEATER by Lulu Wand and Renate Dorrestein's A HEART OF STONE, which won the Vondel Prize for Dutch Translation. In addition, she has contributed to her parents' wartime memoirs - EDITH'S STORY by Edith Velmans and LONG WAY BACK TO THE RIVER KWAI by Loet Velmans -- and has written a children's novel, ISABEL OF THE WHALES.

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