A Foolish Virgin

A Foolish Virgin

A Foolish Virgin

Ida Simons

A Dutch classic about the young girl Gittel, who grows up in the Jewish community of Antwerp in the late 1920s and early 1930s. As a respite from her parents’ cat-and-dog life, Gittel develops a passion for the piano.

Gittel learns her first lessons of life when her infinite trust in older friend Lucie is violated. Simons describes the vulnerable relationship between two girls: who, wonders Gittel, can be trusted in this world of impostors? Ida Simons has a light, often humoristic way of telling the story of the naïve Gittel. She empathises with a girl looking for a safe place in an uncertain time and a chaotic world.

‘Such a wonderful novel! A pinnacle in Dutch literature. Don’t hesitate, buy it immediately.’ – Maarten ‘t Hart

‘Dutch pianist Ido Rosenheimer survived concentration camp Theresienstadt and wrote the brilliant novel A Foolish Virgin as Ida Simons. Wrongly forgotten over time, now rediscovered. A sophisticated style you wouldn’t expect from a debut. A magnificent novel.’ – de Volkskrant *****

‘An extraordinary novel. Musical prose. Ida Simons shows she is a self-conscious writer in this sensitive yet unsentimental novel. It is incomprehensible that this book hasn’t been read for many years. There’s no need to read another novel for the time being.’ – NRC Handelsblad *****

‘Found: the Dutch Stoner. A debut between Franz Kafka and John Cheever. A must-read book.’ – De Standaard *****

‘Cossee Publishers scores with a subtle and humoristic version of the story of the life of Ida Simons. It’s not hard to see why the critics (in the 1960’s and now) loved this novel. The story about the young girl Gittel and her Jewish surroundings are portrayed by Ida Simons with humor and an ironic distance. A Foolish Virgin is inhabited by a motley collection of Jewish characters. Publisher Eva Cossée found this book in her parent’s bookcase, perhaps there’s more to be found there?’ – 8weekly.nl *****

‘The Jane Austen of 1920’s Antwerp. The success of Ida Simons is mainly due to the quality of the novel. A Foolish Virgin is still charming after half a century since it was written. The language is fresh, humoristic and sober.’ – Trouw

‘This is the Dutch equivalent of Stoner. The novel is remarkably timeless. The language is light and simple, sometimes even poetic and Ida Simons is especially strong in her understatement, which yields a friendly and sometimes biting humor. The novel reminds me of 18th Century British literature.’ – De Morgen

‘After the excitement of E.L. James has died down and everybody has read Stoner we are waiting for a new bestseller. 2014 is the year of A Foolish Virgin. This rediscovered novel from 1959 from the Dutch-Flemish Ida Simons is this summer’s Stoner. Beautiful and recognizable.’ – Algemeen Dagblad

‘Ida Simons writes lightly, fluently and nonchalant with a hidden meaning that slowly dawns on you. I think I’ll just read the book for a second time.’ – Den Haag Centraal

‘Nothing by positive reviews when it was published in 1959 and rightfully so.’ – Noordhollands Dagblad

‘A Foolish Virgin deserves a great audience.’ – Christelijk Weekblad

‘Gittel reminds us of Anne Frank.’ – Nederlands Dagblad

‘I reshuffled the planning of the reviews. I thought: this has to be in our newspaper as soon, big and enthusiastic as possible. This truly is something that everyone should read as soon as possible.’ – NRC Handelsblad

‘Sometimes a rediscovered novel is a true eye-opener. From the very start of the novel you know that you’re reading a very good book.’ – Wim Brands

‘A Foolish Virgin is written with amazing skill, in a sober, ironical style, full of mockery and humor.’ – Kees Fens

‘This book has a special history in more ways than one. A very good book and rightfully hailed by all.’ – Tros Nieuwsshow

‘This could be Cossee Publishers’ Stoner, a bestseller out of left field. The first fifty pages were astounding: is this a debut?’ – Boekblad.nl

‘Simons talent is immediately evident, even though she isn’t flaunting it. A Foolish Virgin is grandiose with its modest ambitions.’ – Cobra.be ****

‘This rediscovered is well deserved. A Foolish Virgin is a great find. So read!’ – Boekenbijlage.nl

‘Simons has a lightly ironic tone and she wonderfully writes about the naivety and doubt of a twelve-year old girl from the 1920’s.’ – Tzum.info

‘Ida Simons’ humor is contagious and increases the reading pleasure of this book.’ – Post Scriptum Bookshop


Rights sold to

  • Armenia (Antares)
  • Brazil (Alfaguara)
  • Catalan (Empuries)
  • Czech Republic (Pistorius & Olanská)
  • Denmark (Klim)
  • Finland (Gummerus)
  • France (Belfond)
  • Germany (Luchterhand)
  • Iceland (Bjartur)
  • Israel (Yedioth Books)
  • Italy (Rizzoli)
  • Norway (Pax)
  • Rumania (Polirom)
  • Russia (Knizhniki)
  • Spain (Alfaguara)
  • Sweden (Natur & Kultur)
  • Turkey (Bence Kitap)
  • World English (MacLehose Press)