"A jewel hidden in plain sight."—Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review
"De Jong depicts the darker, dangerous side of the world of same-sex desire, and the way it’s a source of torment—physical and psychological—for those who exist within it."—The Paris Review
When Bea meets Erica at the home of a mutual friend, this chance encounter sets the stage for the story of two women torn between desire and taboo in the years leading up to the Nazi occupation of Amsterdam. Erica, a reckless young journalist, pursues passionate but abusive affairs with different women. Bea, a reserved secretary, grows increasingly obsessed with Erica, yet denial and shame keep her from recognizing her attraction. Only Bea’s discovery that Erica is half-Jewish and a member of the Dutch resistance—and thus in danger—brings her closer to accepting her own feelings.
First published in 1954 in the Netherlands, Dola de Jong’s The Tree and the Vine was a groundbreaking work in its time for its frank and sensitive depiction of the love between two women, now available in a new translation.
"Whereas Patricia Highsmith’s The Price of Salt, notoriously provided a lesbian romance with a happy, or at least hopeful, ending, The Tree and the Vine accomplishes something bolder: It normalizes its characters’ unhappinesses, showing them to be just as complicated as anyone else’s."—The New York Times
"A careful and muted lament about the sorrow of restraint."—The Wall Street Journal
“Silence lies at the heart of Dola de Jong’s The Tree and the Vine . . . A sharp and erotic domestic drama, sometimes comic yet darkened by the looming Nazi occupation.”—Julian Lucas, Harper’s Magazine
"Bea’s inability to face, let alone name, her true sexual desires drives this spare, elegant, and ultimately haunting novel . . . Gehrman’s beautiful new translation returns the book to the spotlight where it belongs . . . a jewel hidden in plain sight."—Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review
"A tightly plotted tour de force and a significant mid-twentieth century novel, exploring lesbian desire and the nature of our shared human condition."—Jewish Book Council
“De Jong makes her narrator a real person, the plain woman over thirty, who does not want to recognize her nature and has brief, dutiful, joyless affairs with men. Therefore, she is always lonely; her little affections and pleasures will never change that. She is not aware of the barrenness of her existence. This silence, this refusal to see, is very touching, and is delicately rendered.”—V.S. Naipaul, Winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature“This is a compelling little book, beautiful and sensitive. It is something one must read at a single sitting once it is begun, which is why this little gem had to be published.”—The Statesman
“This compelling novel allows us entry into a world in which the word lesbian is unspeakable and to be a Jew is unspeakably dangerous.”—Evelyn Torton Beck, editor of Nice Jewish Girls: A Lesbian Anthology
“A masterful depiction of the love of two women, one of whom loves without understanding her own sensuality, while the other indulges in passions with little concept of love.”—Johan P. Snapper, University of California, Berkeley