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In the Shadow of the Cathedral - Book Club Guide

Updated on February 26, 2015
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A librarian through and through, Virginia Allain writes about book topics and information for library users and librarians.

Cover of In the Shadow of the Cathedral.
Cover of In the Shadow of the Cathedral. | Source

Tips for Book Clubs Using In the Shadow of the Cathedral

World War II memoirs are a popular choice for book clubs. Here's one more that is not to be missed. Titia Bozuwa's In the Shadow of the Cathedral makes a good discussion topic for a book club. The very-readable memoir covers Titia's childhood memories of growing up in Holland during the Nazi Occupation.

On this page, you'll find some questions to get discussion started and some authentic Dutch recipes that can serve as a snack or luncheon for the club members.

There are some background videos to help the hostess prepare for the club meeting. She or he can give some historical background to the memoir as the group discusses it.

(Book cover for In The Shadow Of The Cathedral: Growing Up In Holland During WW II)

The Book, The Author & The Book Discussion Questions

The Author Speaking to a Group of Retirees in New Hampshire

Author, Titia Bozuwa
Author, Titia Bozuwa | Source

Meet the Author

Titia Bozuwa

Titia Bozuwa emigrated to America after World War II from Holland. She lives in New Hampshire in a house that dates back to the 1700s. She has written four books and encouraged many other writers through her Twin Farms Writing Workshops.

Here the author holds her audience spellbound as she tells about her childhood experiences in Holland. She was speaking to retirees at the Lake Forest Resort in New Hampshire.

Photo by Virginia Allain.

Book Discussion Questions - In the Shadow of the Cathedral

Questions provided by Gail Snook. Our summer book club chose In the Shadow of the Cathedral for our July meeting. Everyone enjoyed it thoroughly.

Since the author lived not far away, we invited her to speak on another occasion. We invited everyone in our small retirement community and served tea and desserts after her talk. It was well attended. The author was most informative, telling us about the occupation of Holland by the Germans and how it affected her as a little girl.

These Will Start the Discussion for the Book Club

  • How did you react to the fact the story was told from a child's point of view?
  • Do you like books that are memoirs and not novels with a plot? Why / why not?
  • How much of a person's character would you say is shaped by the times in which they live?
  • How do you think Titia's character was affected growing up during the war in Holland ?
  • What situation or scene impressed/affected you the most in this book?
  • Is there any value in reading of a person's experiences in another period of history from our own? If so what? If not, why not?
  • Compare the author's experience with the Germans and the different experience for the Jewish children in her town.
  • How do you think people would react today if a foreign power occupied the U.S.? Talk about the secret ways the people resisted the occupation.

In the Shadow of the Cathedral - Available from Amazon

Here's the book online. It's conveniently available on Amazon so all the members of the book club can easily get a copy.

Buy it and read it for yourself if you want to preview the book before recommending it for your group. It contains awesome photos, too.

Refreshment Ideas for the Book Club Meeting

Serve Dutch Foods for Refreshments - at the Book Club Meeting

You might wonder what food from Holland you can serve to your friends at the book club meeting. As you read the book, keep alert for mentions of food. You can serve those to the group. If you need more ideas, here are my suggestions:

Of course, the Dutch are noted for their cheese-making, so a selection of cheeses like the ones shown would be appropriate. You can get Dutch crackers as well to serve with the cheese.

Some book clubs have a lovely lunch with their book discussions. Others provide appetizers or dessert.

Here are some suggestions for what to serve your book club when you meet to talk about In the Shadow of the Cathedral.

The Kind of Lunch the Author Fixed for a Writing Group

Wouldn't this be tasty for your group!
Wouldn't this be tasty for your group! | Source

One luncheon that Titia served for the Twin Farms Writer's Workshop was a refreshing Dutch salad with apple slices and beets. This would be a light lunch for the book club on the day that they discuss In the Shadow of the Cathedral.

Dutch Beet Salad Made by the Author, Titia Bozuwa

Pretty table - Idea for the book club
Pretty table - Idea for the book club | Source

Dutch Cookies

De Ruiter Dutch Speculaas Cookies
De Ruiter Dutch Speculaas Cookies

While over at Amazon, look for another cookie by De Ruiter called Rose en Witte Muisjes (De Ruyter Pink & White Sugared Aniseeds sprinkles).


Lunch of Beet Salad, Hard Boiled Eggs and a Roll

Butter for the roll. You can put it on the table is little crocks like this.
Butter for the roll. You can put it on the table is little crocks like this.

Edam - A Marvelous Dutch Cheese

Edam Cheese (4 pounds)
Edam Cheese (4 pounds)

I like this on its own just sliced in pretty wedges or thinly sliced to eat on crackers.


Making Stroopwaffels for the Book Club Members

You can buy these (see below) or make them yourself. Here's the recipe for stroopwaffels.

Food Makes a Book Club Meeting into a Social Event

Participants will linger around the table, enjoying the companionship and the opportunity to discuss books.
Participants will linger around the table, enjoying the companionship and the opportunity to discuss books.

Be Sure to Have Some Tulips or Other Dutch Flowers for the Table

Any bulbs like crocus, daffodils or Dutch iris will look lovely on the table where you gather to discuss your favorite books.. If fresh flowers are too expensive, you can get lovely silk tulips. Save these to use each spring for years to come.

Photo by Virginia Allain.

Tulips for Your Book Club Table

Here are some amazing tulip bouquets that will look lovely on your book club table, and can be easily switched out and used for other occasions, as well.

Background Information for the Readers

Background Information for Book Club Members

The memoir starts with Titia's memories of the arrival of the Germans in her town.

These videos show the Nazi invasion of Holland in WWII and how it affected the Dutch.

You can email links for these videos to your group members so they can have some background knowledge before reading the book.

Learn More about the Invasion of Holland by Hitler's Troops

Women Tell of Their WWII Experience in Holland

The Allies Liberating Holland from the Nazi Occupation

More Books Like This One

Related Memoirs and Diaries of Holland in WWII

Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl
Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl

This classic diary makes a good comparison book when discussing In the Shadow of the Cathedral.


I Love My Book Club


Book club magnets available from Zazzle: I Love My Bookclub by booklovergifts

vintage Dutch clogs shoes
vintage Dutch clogs shoes

Old Dutch Wooden Shoes

This photo shows vintage wooden shoes from Holland that the author has on display in her home.

Photo by Virginia Allain.

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