Kathleen Vereecken (1962) has worked as a freelance journalist for several papers and magazines.
She made her debut in 1993 with Het raadsel in het fluisterbos (The riddle in the whispering woods, 1993), but readers had to wait until 1997 for her first historical novel for young adults. Alle kleuren grijs (All colours grey), based on her great-grandmother’s life, was promptly nominated for the Golden Owl. Later on she wrote the gripping Lara & Rebecca, about the friendship between a white girl and a slave girl. With Ik denk dat het liefde was (I Think It Was Love) – a novel about the supposed son of famous philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau – Vereecken won the Boekenleeuw (Book Lion) and several other rewards. The novel was translated in French, German and Italian. In Zijdeman (Silkman), also based on a family history, she focuses on the children of a missing silk merchant in Paris. The novel is currently adapted for screen (animation) with Vereecken as a co-script writer.
In 2016 her first novel for adults was published: Haar (Hair), a story that deals with the major issues surrounding love and betrayal. And the minor ones as well, such as: why are women so fond of ritualistically ushering out their youth? And why do they cut their hair short?
Alles komt goed, altijd (Everything will be alright, always), the moving story of a girl during World War I, is considered one of the best dutch language children’s books from the last year. It has been awarded the Woutertje Pieterse Prijs (The Netherlands) and the Boekenleeuw (Flanders). Translations in German and Russian will be available soon.
From Bookshelf Essentials, a publication of Flanders Literature:
Her historical novels connect little histories to big history, seamlessly combining plenty of historical information with incredibly well-crafted psychological portraits. Vereecken paints a very convincing and almost sensorial portrait of the age, embedded in a meticulous structure that keeps the reader engaged.
Vereecken’s work has been translated into French, German, Italian, Chinese, Korean and other languages.
On I think it was love
(text by Flanders Literature)
Unique and fascinating perspective on Rousseau
I Think It Was Love tells the story of Leon, supposedly the son of famous writer and
philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau. In 1762, Rousseau wrote Emile ou de l’éducation, a
groundbreaking book about the ideal education. No one knew at that time that he had
taken his own five children to a foundling hospital on the day of their birth. Kathleen
Vereecken imagines what life might have been like for Rousseau’s eldest son.
In the enlightened 18th century, Leon is abandoned and taken in by
an uncaring foster mother in the French region of Morvan. Méline, the daughter of the family, takes pity on the tough little boy and makes his hard life bearable. When she commits suicide, he is really alone for the first time. He sets off for Paris, looking for his roots and for love. In the chaotic underbelly of the city, he persists not only in his search for his mother, but also in his quest for education. But then he discovers his father’s identity.
Vereecken’s historical novel for young adults sweeps the reader along in an intense reading experience. The wonderfully evocative style brings to life the locations and the spirit of the age, in atmospheric, sensuous images.
The novel won several rewards and has been translated in French, German and Italian.
‘I Think It Was Love is an extraordinary young adult novel,
told in words and sentences of the finest crystal.’
– Flemish newspaper De Standaard
‘Vereecken writes so very atmospherically, drawing you
in with her sensitive language and her delicate treatment
of emotions.’ – Flemish newspaper De Standaard
‘Kathleen Vereecken manages to say a lot in a few words,
a talent that is not given to everyone.’
– reviewer Jan van Coillie in Lexicon van de Jeugdliteratuur