The Watchmaker’s Daughter – Larry Loftis

The Watchmaker's Daughter: The True Story of World War II Heroine Corrie Ten Boom by Larry Loftis
Published by William Morrow on March 7, 2023
Genres: Non-Fiction, Biography
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New York Times bestselling author and master of nonfiction spy thrillers Larry Loftis writes the first major biography of Corrie ten Boom, a Dutch watchmaker who saved the lives of hundreds of Jews during WWII--at the cost of losing her family and being sent to a concentration camp, only to survive, forgive her captors, and live the rest of her life as a Christian missionary.
The Watchmaker's Daughter is one of the greatest stories of World War II that readers haven't heard: the remarkable and inspiring life story of Corrie ten Boom--a groundbreaking, female Dutch watchmaker, whose family unselfishly transformed their house into a hiding place straight out of a spy novel to shelter Jews and refugees from the Nazis during Gestapo raids. Even though the Nazis knew what the ten Booms were up to, they were never able to find those sheltered within the house when they raided it.
Corrie stopped at nothing to face down the evils of her time and overcame unbelievable obstacles and odds. She persevered despite the loss of most of her family and relied on her faith to survive the horrors of a notorious concentration camp. But even more remarkable than her heroism and survival was Corrie's attitude when she was released. Miraculously, she was able to eschew bitterness and embrace forgiveness as she ministered to people in need around the globe. Corrie's ability to forgive is just one of the myriad lessons that her life story holds for readers today.
Reminiscent of Schindler's List and featuring a journey of faith and forgiveness not unlike Unbroken, The Watchmaker's Daughter is destined to become a classic work of World War II nonfiction.

Look at me, venturing into the nonfiction genre! For the most part, I review fiction for Life is Story. Every so often, though, I come across a nonfiction book that piques my interest, and The Watchmaker’s Daughter by Larry Loftis pulled me in from the moment I saw its subject: Corrie ten Boom. Growing up in a Christian home and attending a Christian school, I grew up hearing her incredible story. Fellow drama students used excerpts of The Hiding Place for district and state competitions. Corrie ten Boom spoke at my grandmother’s church before I was born. I knew of her heroism during World War II, but I wanted more—and my goodness, did Larry Loftis deliver!

As a mostly fiction reader, I like a certain writing style, a style Loftis does not follow. The Watchmaker’s Daughter is factual. It lacks the colorful, easy flow of biographies like Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. Instead, Loftis is straightforward. Are there descriptions of people and places? Yes. Loftis, however, focuses on getting from point A to point B. No embellishment. No “bedazzle.” If you prefer biographies that read more like a novel, The Watchmaker’s Daughter by Larry Loftis is not for you. When I read the book, I had to be alone with the TV off. If something distracted me, it took me a while to fall back into his rhythm.

By the time I finished The Watchmaker’s Daughter, I fell in love with it. It took me maybe a week to read the first thirty percent of Loftis’s book, but I read the rest of it in one day. Something that helped immensely: the pictures. There is no mention of pictures in the book’s description, but I wish there was. I would have picked it up if only for the photos. Loftis extensively researched Corrie ten Boom, her home’s hidden residents, her family, and her time in the concentration camp. Some details were hard to read, though that is no surprise with anything surrounding the Holocaust. But I loved the pictures; they allowed me to put faces to names. Places and spaces to descriptions. While I of course knew I was reading a biography, the photos made everything more real.

The Watchmaker’s Daughter by Larry Loftis is an informative book that speaks to Corrie ten Boom’s robust faith in the worst crises. Not only that, it opens the world’s eyes to the courage of her family members and friends, and the horrors everyone suffered during World War II. The book, however, lacks character. Let me reiterate: It is factual. It takes readers through a timeline and adds little to it. If you are a history buff, you may like The Watchmaker’s Daughter as I did. If, however, you cannot adjust to the lack of…I don’t know, personality, the book isn’t for you. You might find it more boring than interesting.