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Bart van Es
8pm Wednesday 20 February 2019
St Mary’s church, Barnes

bart van es
photo: Keith Barnes

The last time Lien saw her parents was in The Hague, when she was collected at the door by a stranger and taken to a foster family far away to be hidden from the Nazis. Bart van Es is a grandson of the couple who looked after Lien and he wondered what was Lien’s side of the story. What really happened during the war and afterwards?

Bart van Es began an investigation that would consume him: the result is The Cut Out Girl. It weaves together a recreation of Lien’s harrowing childhood with the present day account of Bart’s efforts to piece that story together. It is a book about the powerful love and challenges of foster families, and about the ways in which our most painful experiences can both define us and themselves be redefined.The Cut Out Girl was the 2018 winner of the Costa biography prize and overall winner of the 2018 Costa Book of the Year. The Costa judges described it as “sensational and gripping … shedding light on some of the most urgent issues of our time. This was our unanimous winner.”Philippe Sands, author of East West Street called the book “luminous, elegant, haunting – I read it straight through.”

Bart van Es was born in the Netherlands and is bilingual in Dutch and English. He now lives in England and is Professor of English literature at the University of Oxford and a Fellow of St Catherine’s College.