"This tale of the struggle for freedom is my tribute to the everlasting courage and complete faith of the people of the Netherlands."
These are the words with which Brigid Knight starts I Struggle and I Rise, the first part of a trilogy about a family from the Frisian north of Holland at the time of the Eighty Years War.
Main character Anna van Breda is a farmer’s wife in Friesland. Her husband and sons are participating in the armed struggle against the Spanish. The All Saints’ Flood of November 1570 drives them from their home; the water takes everything they own.
It is the largest flood the people have ever experienced. All the dikes on the coast of Belgium and Holland are destroyed. An alleged 20,000 people lose their lives.
Anna loses her husband, son, and daughter. She moves in with family in Delft, which is where she meets the Prince of Orange. Nothing but glorious praise on him.
When writing about the prince’s demise, Brigid Knight cites the British historian Trevelyan, who describes William the Silent as the wisest, most gentle, and bravest man who has ever led a nation.
The novelist was born into an Anglo-Irish family in South Africa. She seems to be very fond of the Netherlands; her best books are set there and she describes the country very favourably.