After Paris Historical Fiction Torn Asunder

Ripples On The Water

One of my favourite books is Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway. In a nutshell, set in London after World War 1, the main character, Clarissa Dalloway sees her job as creating connections between people and to that end the story focuses on a party she is throwing. During her preparations for the party, Mrs. Dalloway’s mind continually travels back and forth across time and in this way the reader is in both the past and the present, raising the concept of endless possibilities that could/might happen through these human connections.

When I wrote my second Historical Fiction, After Paris, I was inspired by an old photo album of my grandmother’s. She (Mary Thomson) was a Dutch nurse who went to Paris to work in WW1.

Text Box: Figure 1 Mary Thomson_Max Meijer

Although the Netherlands was neutral during WW1, Dutch benevolent societies funded medical teams to support the Allies. Mirroring my grandmother’s experience, my main character goes to work in a hospital fully funded and staffed by the Dutch ‘Ambulance’ situated in a fine dining restaurant (still there today) called Le Pré Catelan in the Bois de Boulogne (Paris), which, for the duration of the war was transformed into a hospital.

The story continues after the war as my character struggles to fit back in to society, and with the loss of her career and confidence she makes a series of poor choices on her journey to reinvention and self-awareness.

The reason I am so bold as to mention both Mrs. Dalloway and After Paris in the same piece is because a reader of my book reached out to me to tell me that her grandmother had also been a Dutch nurse in Le Pré Catelan. Through a series of email notes and a scour through my photo album, I discovered a photo of her (Laurie’s) grandmother. There, in my grandmother’s writing was the name of her friend, Catherina Theadora Warnsinck (nicknamed ‘To’).

How magical is it that more than one hundred years after the end of WW1 a woman in California (Laurie) forges a connection with a woman living in rural Ontario Canada (me!) because two Dutch nurses were friends..and because of a book?

Being an author is a constant delight to me. It’s a thrill to tell stories that people read and enjoy. It’s an honour to follow in the footsteps of Virginia Woolf and all the other great writers as I try to reach out and make connections in a world that is increasingly alienated.

The influence that each of us writers (authors, bloggers, reviewers, marketers, poets and journalists) have is often little understood. My new book Torn Asunder looks at this question of influence. Here’s a short summary of what the book is about:

He is an inspiring journalist, but Emmet Ryan has no idea that his words have the power to destroy those he loves the most. Opening in 1916, this is a story about a conflicted man set during one of Ireland’s most turbulent eras.

Torn Asunder is now available in all the usual places – amazon, smashwords, and kobo.

Like the expanding waves that ripple out from a stone falling into still water, our words reach out and touch people in surprising ways.

I’d love to hear from you!  You can reach me at


Read An Ebook Week 2018

Read An Ebook Week 2018

I’m delighted to participate in this exciting event. Both my ebooks are discounted by 50% when purchased through Smashwords. Check it out now:


After Paris Family Business Historical Fiction

Reviews for After Paris and Family Business

Here’s what my readers are saying about After Paris:

I just wanted to let you know that I’ve just finished “After Paris” and I absolutely loved it.

You write beautifully it has to be said. 

I thought Lisbeth’s character was very well crafted, so strong yet so vulnerable and self- doubting at times. The embodiment of that all too familiar feeling that maybe we’re not being honest with ourselves and allowing ourselves to be as happy as we should be. I also thought there was a real elegance to it and the story flowed beautifully.” G.M, Dublin, Ireland

“Set against the backdrop of World War I and the immediate post-war period, Renny de Groot’s second novel, “After Paris” traces the physical and psychological journey of Liesbeth Zwart-Bos, a young Dutch nurse. This fascinating page-turner explores the themes of the horrors of war, the role of women in society and the hardships of immigration. As we follow Liesbeth through her travels to France, back home to the Netherlands and ultimately to Canada, we simultaneously witness her voyage through her identity crisis, with her emotional maturity as the final destination. Once again Renny deGroot has proven herself to be a skilled storyteller, as we become emotionally invested in her characters and their struggles” S.E., Toronto, Canada

Have you read the book? I’d love to get your honest feedback! Click the link below to submit a review to

Here’s what a reader said about Family Business:

Each time I dove into the words of your novel I was transported to a time and place that was brought to life with such brilliant writing. The style, the pace and the captivating narrative kept me engaged and captured by every word, phrase and emotion. As I read the novel in small bites I was constantly anticipating the moment I could catch up with Andre, Tiineke, Johan, Mary and Agatha and how their story unfolds. Your writing is so captivating and I admire you immensely. The skill you have in telling a narrative in a heart-moving yet fact based style is exceptional.What I loved about the novel were the small stories of each of the characters that together created a compelling thread of connected lives and the moments their lives are changed through theirs and others actions and decisions. It is the essence of life. We impact each other not necessarily through serendipitous actions but more so through a complex infrastructure of emotions and motivations. I feel these are what you have mastered in your work. As a reader, I was immersed in the thoughts and the external and internal drivers of each character which raised so many of my emotions.” T.V., Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Have you read the book? I’d love to get your honest feedback! Click the link below to submit a review to