A historic family drama based in and near 1640 Amsterdam, the wealthiest city on earth at the time, The Seventh Etching tells the story of two families over a one-year period. Both Griet and Johannes Verhoeven, farmers, in their early 20’s and Jos and Myriam Broekhof, wealthy merchants in their 30’s, face devastating losses that threaten their livelihoods and their marriages.
After a major flood, Griet and Johannes attempt to rebuild two combined family farms – a unique, promising inheritance that initially brought them together, but now overwhelms them. Myriam secretly sells her husband’s valuable art collection to build a hidden monument to her deceased daughter. Jos suffers despair and defeat as he combs every corner of the city in his obsessive attempt to complete a set of playfully erotic etchings. It is a six-year old Gypsy orphan, Nelleke, who connects the two couples. Sprightly and spirited, Nelleke both delights and exasperates. Might this mysterious child have the power to heal struggling adults and find the permanent home she seeks? Does she, innocently and unknowingly, hold the clue to the missing etching, as Jos suspects?
The Seventh Etching by Judith White PROLOGUE Monkey brain. That is his affliction. Creatures arrive from every direction and insist that he give them life. A black lion stands on its hind feet, large front paws reaching forward ready to grab. A horned one-eyed reptile gazes with a menace that won’t let go. A wizard with horizontal hair focuses his tiny eyes on the end of a long nose so sharp it could cut a slice of morning cheese. After two rushed days of drawing, painting, cutting, and rolling the heavy presses back and forth, Nicolaas tried desperately to ban the haunting images that drove him. "Oh for a vision to calm my spirit and soothe my aching body," he thought. "Surely there is some comforting image I can conjure up." And then there it was. His mother. Her long dark skirt on wide hips. The mussed faded white apron. The cap tight around her face. Her usual expression – straight, thin lips, grim and determined. The full sleeves of her blouse rolled up above the elbows. Her arms covered in suds, she massages the shoulders of her husband. Father. Sitting in the wooden laundry tub. His back to her, head bent forward, the tips of his long hair touching the surface of the water, hiding his face. His powerful chest exposed, glistening. No. Wait. This couple is young, playful. The girl pulls the young man’s head against her belly, reaches down, cups her hand under his chin, pulls his head backwards, bites his lip. The man reaches up toward the woman’s turban, unwinds it slowly, tosses it in the water. Her thick hair cascades. Lying on his narrow, wooden bed, hoping for a few hours of deep sleep, Nicolaas moves one hand instinctively toward his groin. To unbuckle and unbutton, though – that would require the work of both hands. His breathing slows. He collapses. His inky fingers rest on his breeches. His dreams continue without him.
With five siblings, three children and three grandchildren, Judith K. White is a family drama expert. Living in Amsterdam, she became fascinated with the city’s 17th-century history. Linguist, educator, entrepreneur and fundraiser, Judith lives in Brookline Massachusetts with her husband, Allen L. White. The Seventh Etching is her first novel.