A Young Wife
Minke van Aisma was born and raised in a small Dutch town where the old ways of life have yet to give way to the modern conveniences and technological advances of the early 20th century. When Sander DeVries, a wealthy Amsterdam merchant, chooses Minke to help him nurse his ailing wife, teenage Minke is excited for the opportunity to see the world outside Enkhuizen. Minke’s naïveté keeps her from realizing that Sander is also looking for a new wife, someone young, attractive, and pliable who will follow him to Argentina, where he plans to make his fortune. Though Minke is surprised by Sander’s offer, she accepts, and the newlyweds sail for Comodoro Rivadavia. But the honeymoon ends quickly, and Minke soon discovers that Sander is a man of many secrets who will stoop to incredible levels to maintain or increase his wealth and status.
Lewis’s novel is loosely based on the life and experiences of her grandmother, who emigrated from the Netherlands to Argentina and then, finally, to New York. There are a lot of twists to the plot, many of which are unexpected, and the gradual revelation of Sander’s true character is surprisingly shocking. Minke’s confidence grows throughout the book, and it’s fascinating to watch her mature from a sheltered country girl to a sophisticated, intelligent, and confident young woman. The out-of-the-ordinary settings, the fascinating characters, and the fast-paced plot made for a very enjoyable reading experience.