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Publisher's Summary

Wartime Holland. Whom can you trust? 

Deep in the Veluwe woods lies Berkenhout, a purpose-built village of huts sheltering dozens of persecuted people. But the Germans can find no proof of its existence. The whole community pulls together to help the Berkenhout inhabitants adjust to a difficult new life and, above all, stay safe. 

Sofie, a Jewish Dutch girl, struggles to adapt to living in Berkenhout, away from her family and friends. As weeks turn to months, she’s worried they’ll abandon her altogether. Young tearaway Jan likes to help, but he also enjoys roaming the woods looking for adventure and fallen pilots. His dream comes true, until he is found out. Henk is in charge of building the underground huts and organizing provisions to Berkenhout, but his contact with the Germans arouses suspicions. 

Whom can you trust? All it takes is one small fatal slip to change the course of all their lives forever.

©2017 Imogen Matthews (P)2018 Imogen Matthews

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Informative historical fiction

In "The Hidden Village", the citizens of a Dutch community are called upon to shelter those fleeing from the Nazis. The people coming to them for help include Jewish children, downed American pilots, and German defectors. The story follows the characters through small joys, near misses, tragedy, and triumph. The characters are very real and relatable - so important in historical fiction!

I would certainly recommend this for parents, guardians, and teachers to use as a learning tool. The book can be used to help teens contextualize what happened during World War 2. Please note that there are war related situations with violence which were difficult for me, as an adult, to process.

This story examines a variety of war experiences through the eyes of the characters and helps the listener to consider, 'What would it be like to try and hide refugees?', 'What is the emotional toll on families?', 'Who is trustworthy?', and 'Is the sacrifice ultimately worth it?'

I understand the story was written using historical accounts and stories combined with research. However, I felt like the ending (2 decades after the story) was a bit muddled and missed an opportunity to follow the characters through recovery and rebuilding. I would've been interested in a short introduction to the author's relatives, information about the real Berkenhout, and what happened to the survivors the story was based on.

I was given this free review copy audio book at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Educational & charming

This was an educational and charming tale about Nazi occupied Holland during WWII. ‘Charming’ probably sounds a little odd for the subject but it was mostly a light-hearted tale about hiding in the woods and pulling the wool over the eyes of the Nazis. Jan, a lad of 11 years old, plays a major role in the story and for much of it, this was just one big adventure. It was exciting running messages and supplies to the Jews hiding in the woods (Berkenhout). He slips through Nazi hands again and again. Also, he’s found a few pilots that had to bail out. Sometimes his family helps out pilots or Jews by hiding them in their attic. So I can see how it’s all very exciting for the lad.

It took me a while to like Sofie. She is separated from her family and lives in Berkenhout on her own as a teenager. There, she eventually learns to help out. I’m not sure if she had a maid come in and clean once a week before the war, but now she learns to cook and clean and eventually enjoys all the tasks she takes on.

I’m going to show my ignorance here but this one little thing keeps niggling at me. The characters in this story (Jew or not Jew) all enjoy pork. Ham or bacon is nearly a daily ingredient in the cooking. There’s no discussion of ‘Oh, well, things are desperate and we really need the protein so we’ll eat pork even though it’s not kosher’. So was it common for 1940s Dutch Jews to eat pork? I don’t know and my few on-line searches haven’t answered the question. A few lines in the story would have educated me and cleared up that minor mystery.

The ladies in general were comforters and romantic interests. When two or more got together, they almost always talked about boys or men. I was a bit disappointed in this aspect of the story. We all know that the ladies did plenty in WWII besides the cooking, cleaning, reproducing, and flirting.

The last hour of the book gets very serious and it was a definite change of tone from the rest of the book. Unfortunately, several people die or are injured. There’s also the question of whether or not a certain side character betrayed the people of Berkenhout. Unfortunately, that mystery is never clearly answered.

I enjoyed the two pilots. One was a Brit, Nigel. Then later in the book there’s Donald, an American from Ohio. Both were welcomed into Jan’s house, partially because Jan and his mom (who is British) speak English. They both made a good counterpoint to Jan’s dad, who was always in a bad mood and rather gruff with Jan. After Jan’s older brother Oscar went off on a small mission for the local resistance, Jan didn’t have a steady male mentor. Both Nigel and Donald treated Jan well and appreciated his help.

Liesbeth, Sofie’s best friend from school, is a small comforting presence for much of the story. At the end she plays an important role and I liked her all the better for it. Though once again, I had some questions about how Liesbeth’s generosity changed her life and how she pulled it off.

So, as you can see, it was educational for me (who knew nothing about Nazi-occupied Holland before reading this story) yet it left me with several small questions. 4/5 stars.

The Narration: Liam Gerrard was great for this story. He was the perfect, excitable Jan. He also had believable female voices. I know it would be a lot to ask for, but I would have enjoyed a Dutch accent for the Dutch characters… but that would have been the majority of the book so I understand why it wasn’t done. Gerrard used a light British voice for the majority of characters, which was perfect for the two British characters but it did make it feel like the story was set somewhere in the UK rather than in Holland. Gerrard had a good German accent for the Nazis and the one German defector. I also liked his American accent for Donald (who is from Ohio). His pacing was good too. There were no technical issues with the recording. 4.5/5 stars.

I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Essential Audiobooks. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent from start to finish!


This is a powerful, inspiring, heart breaking audiobook that you can't stop listening to. It is fiction but is loosely based on the hidden villages in Holland during the war - it was something that I had never learned about and encouraged me to learn more.

Based in WWII, it follows the kindness and bravery of a group of people determine to protect those persecuted from the Germans. They create their own little hidden Village deep in the woods, far from the German's eyes but not so far that they can live like a normal village. The people take great risks to not only get the individuals to the Village but to get them supplies, food and ensuring that no one else finds out about the group. It is an inspiring story about the bravery and kindness of ordinary people who did everything they could during the war. It had me in tears at times at the unfairness and other times smiling at the ability of the children to still find the good points in their lives. The children take on such a key role during this time both protecting the people and communicating messages, this can also be a downfall due to their innocence and excitement.

The narration in this story is excellent. He manages to somehow capture the innocence and trust of a child - he captures their inability to grasp the complete nature of the seriousness of their situation and how they sometimes only see the unfairness (like when Sofie was mad at her friend for being able to move freely while she was stuck in hiding - she knew it was important to be in hiding but she still felt it was unfair and not right). You felt the urgency in his tone and in the situation when the Germans would come to the homes and it kept you on your seats. He kept the story engaged with his tone and I loved listening to him telling the story.

This was a powerful audiobook - you were constantly on the edge of your seat as the village grows and the uncertainty of their situation increases. You were in constant fear that they would be found and your stomach turns every time they come in contact with a soldier. This is a definite must listen to for both young adults and adults alike.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Historical value but missed character development

The book tells the story of the inhabitants and refugees living in the fictional village of Berkenhout during WWII. In the prologue, the author mentions that the book is a compilation of stories told by a relative. I was interested in this book since I've visited the Netherlands several times since I lived in Belgium for some years. 

It was an enjoyable tale, with likable characters and heartbreaking stories. I think historical fiction is one of the best ways of learning about history, and this is a good example of it. There has been a good amount of research in writing this book, and I do appreciate the few words in Dutch scattered throughout the book.

Even though I really enjoyed the story, there were some aspects that prevented me from granting it a 5-star review. I think the book would have impressed me a lot more were the characters more developed. They were many, with a very brief introduction for each of them, and at times they blended a bit into each other. I was not able to connect with them, and I didn't much care about their luck. I think the book would have worked much better if told from the perspective of one of the characters, providing more insight and more character development.

Liam Gerrard's narration was quite good, providing with different voices and styles to the characters, and bringing them to life through great character interpretations. Gerrard really helped in creating more vivid characters and adding interest to the story. His pronunciation of the Dutch language was quite decent but I spotted a couple of mispronounced words, and the fact that Brabant is pronounced in two different ways (one right, one wrong) just caught my attention. Nevertheless, Dutch is not an easy language to pronounce, and I think Gerrard did a very good job dealing with it.

I think the book is what it is: a collection of stories and anecdotes from terrible times, with lots of interesting information for the history aficionado. 

I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Essential Audiobooks. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Interesting and informative story!

The Hidden Village by Imogen Matthews accompanied me through the last few weeks as I have transitioned my family to a new home. As an audiobook it resonated in my ears and heart while I packed, cleaned, and unpacked our family.

It really was a delightful and engaging story. That may seem like a strange description for a book all about nazi-occupied Holland. However, the nature and youthfulness of the characters throughout the story provided an innocence during a scary and intense period of their lives. The premise of the story being about a hidden underground hiding place (Berkenhout) for those needing refuge was a really interesting and exciting twist. It made this book very different than others I’ve read in the same time period. I cannot even imagine living underground, and many of the sentiments communicated by the characters seem to be just the tip of the iceberg about what life would be like in these extreme circumstances.

Matthew’s choice of having the main characters be teenagers and preteens gives the story of very different spin. I found several of the characters to be naive and their childhood innocence was foundational to how the story transpires. Giving this story a very unique perspective.

Without giving too much away the story it does become less predictable and intense in the end which definitely took me by surprise and kept me listening. There were characters I immediately took to and others like Sophie who grew on meme over time.

Liam Girard, the narrator, did a great job of pacing and intonation. He has an accent himself and it was definitely appropriate for several of the characters. His voice was also very believable across genders and I loved when he did utilize a German accent for others. Occasionally I found it challenging to decipher some of the Dutch characters simply because there was not a Dutch accent used and since that is the setting of the story occasionally I would have to backtrack to listen again. I will be honest and say this may not be entirely due to his narration, but to the fact that I was multitasking.

One reason I love historical fiction is because it teaches and brings me a better understanding of different time periods. This story was no exception. I have read some historical fiction in this era, but nothing quite like this story; and it left me intrigued and wanting to read more.

Thanks to Audiobookworm Promotions for providing me with a copy of the story so that I could participate in the blog tour. The tour is being sponsored by Essential Audiobooks. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

fiction and non fiction rolled into one

The Hidden Village is a historical journey of the families who lived in an underground village during WWII. These families were Dutch, Jewish, and Persecuted by the Germans. They lived in a small village in the woods called Berkenhout. The German's caught wind of the village but with the help of the surrounding community they never could find proof of the village. The book follows Sofie as she tries to get used to living in Berkenhout. Her family sent her here to keep her safe during the war.

This book is written with historical facts as well as fiction. The Author Imogen Matthews' mother actually live in this village during the war and told her stories of her time there. Imogen Matthews has also visited the village. She has taken memories from her visit to the village and the stories her Mother told her to write this book. Liam Gerrard narrates this audiobook. He does a pretty good job. I do think this book is more for middle grade to young adult, but it is a interesting story for anyone who likes history or who have a interest in The Dutch during WWII.

I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Resistance mades a big difference in WWII

This story takes place during WW II. It tells of a town that resisted the German's to help those that the German's wanted to take. It is amazing how much the resistance makes a difference to many. The characters are well described and have a great persona. We have never heard much about what war was like for the Dutch. It is interesting at there reactions to the Germans here at the latter part of the war.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent WWII Nazi Resistance Story

I received this audio book free from the author for review.
I really liked the book. Historical fiction is currently my favorite genre. The story is based on the story of a former underground village that the author visited and her mother's stories about living in Holland during WWII. The story is very believable and moving. The characters are very realistic and likeable. I took a star off the Performance rating because I think I could have followed parts of the audio book better if the voices of each character would have been more district as in some other audio books I have listened to.

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • peterperugia
  • 07-27-18

An fine reading of a gripping and moving story

The Hidden Village is a cracking good story in its own right when you read it, but when you are able to lay back in your favourite chair or drive along in your car or sit back comfortably on a train carriage seat on a long journey and let it soar over you effortlessly from the trained voice of a professional actor, it is simply a delight . Liam's reading of it, done with great skill and an inimitable interpretation of the characters, which brings them uniquely to life, is an even greater pleasure than making them up in your own head, although of course we all have our own images and sounds in our mind when we read a book. I can thoroughly recommend the Audible version, but buy it before you read it to yourself

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Anna Pitt
  • 07-11-18

Fascinating insight into little known area of WWII

The story is fast paced and with interesting detail of what ordinary people went through during this extraordinary time.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Sarah
  • 06-10-18

An Amazing Story

This is such a gripping book, exciting, scary, moving and compelling. Felt like I was right there alongside the characters feeling exactly what they were going through! Would highly recommend for anyone who wants to experience the whole range of human emotions and a hear story that will have you thinking about it even when you've stopped listening. Brilliant!!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful