Otto de Kat's Julia starts and ends in the summer of 1981 with the suicide of a Dutch factory owner, Christiaan Dudok, whose body is found with a newspaper from April 2, 1942, reporting on the bombing of the German town of Lubeck.
Filling the pages in between, de Kat pieces together the story of Dudok's year spent in Lubeck as a young man, where he met and fell in love with Julia, a free-spirited engineer openly critical of the Nazi regime.
As war breaks out, Julia is forced into hiding under suspicion of being a communist, ordering Dudok - her lover - to return home. Her words, "You'll be putting me at risk, Chris", are enough to convince him to leave, a decision that shapes the rest of his life. "The remorse had never left him, for allowing himself to be sent home, for not having stayed the course."
Dudok recoils into a family business and a marriage that don't appeal to him, his passiveness never to be redeemed.
Julia is an elegiac, poetic lament for a life lived wrongly in the shadows of a terrifying time in German history.