by Aleida Pierrette Cahusac-van den Berg
Unconditional Love is the autobiographical account of a lone child in a single parent family living in The Hague of the 1930s. This sensitively written narrative is told through the eyes of a small child struggling to come to terms with her fractured family: her frustrated mother, her absent father, her elusive half-brother and sister from her mother’s previous marriage.
This is a beautifully crafted and engaging recollection of early childhood adorned with old photos taken from family albums. It reveals strengths and weaknesses common to us all. It is the story of a child exposed to unusual hardships in a broken world, but whose spirit remained whole.
Historical snapshots from the 1930s give us Anna Pavlova’s last performance, Dutch colonialism in Java, and the dawn of WW2.
There is a touch of royalty and grandeur. Her paternal grandfather, a surgeon who brought X-rays to Holland, was the illegitimate son of the Dutch King Willem III. Her wealthy grandmother, while studying in Paris, had an affair with the young Clemenceau who later became Prime Minister of France.
There are tears of laughter and tears of deep sadness, but never despair. It is the story of innocence, and the loss of it. There are heart-rending attempts to understand the cruelty and bluntness of others. There is tragedy. Above all, there is the unbroken and unconditional love for her mother.
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