Eating Tulips

Have you ever eaten tulip bulbs? I haven’t, and I’m guessing not many of you have, either. Unless you lived in the Netherlands during World War II, that is. A Google search lists quite a few edible flowers including pansies, nasturtiums and marigolds. Tulips aren’t listed. I ate a flower at a trendy restaurant once that looked something like an orchid. It didn’t have much taste. But the Dutch didn’t eat tulips because they were trendy or tasty. The people were starving and desperate, and tulips were the only food available. Actress Audrey Hepburn, who lived in Holland during the war, has told how she survived on tulip bulbs. She said they tasted terrible.

I learned these sad but interesting facts while researching my newest novel, “Chasing Shadows.” The launch date is tomorrow, June 8, by the way, and I am super excited! (Keep reading to find out how to win a free copy!) The novel tells the stories of three women who live through the Nazi invasion and occupation of the Netherlands during WWII and have to decide how they will cope. The easiest way to survive is to befriend the enemy and collaborate with them. The middle path is to bury your head in the sand and simply try to cope by giving in to their demands, no matter how evil. The most difficult choice—and one that many, many brave Dutch people chose—is to actively resist and fight back against everything the Nazis were doing. You’ll have to read the novel to find out which of the paths my main characters chose.

The Dutch people suffered terribly during the war. During the final year, the railroad workers went on strike to hinder the Nazis’ movements, but when the trains halted, food supplies couldn’t be distributed. The winter of 1944-45 was called the Hunger Winter. It’s estimated that 22,000 civilians starved to death. One of the few things available to eat were tulip bulbs, so the Dutch Office of Food Supply published a guide with recipes, telling people how to cook them. The most common way was to grate the dried bulbs and use it like flour to make bread.

Fortunately, most of us have never faced the hardships of warfare. But we can read novels like “Chasing Shadows” and try to put ourselves in the characters’ places, and imagine how we would have reacted to such extreme circumstances. I like to think I would have faced the enemy courageously, but I’ll never really know.

And yet . . . I do have an enemy who wants to defeat me and take me captive. I face a variety of challenges, large and small, every day, and must decide how I will react. Am I going to allow the enemy to discourage and defeat me? Will I get angry, give in, give up? Or will I allow Christ’s love and grace to shine through me regardless of the circumstances? Like the women in my novel, I must decide if I will surrender to the enemy, do nothing, or show love?

It seems like it has taken a lifetime for me to fully trust in God’s provision. Like the Israelites, I sometimes grumble and complain about the manna He provides, preferring the cuisine of captivity. Jesus said that if we ask our Heavenly Father for bread, He isn’t going to give us stones. But sometimes His answers to prayer seem pretty hard to swallow. Like tulip bulbs. Will I eat them without complaining? Will I be thankful for them, as the faithful Dutch people were? Until the enemy is fully defeated, it’s a decision I must remember to make every day.

To celebrate the release of “Chasing Shadows,” (and my characters who eat tulips bulbs), I’m giving away two free copies of my book. To enter to win, simply leave a response to this blog, below. If you’d like, you can tell me about any flowers you’ve eaten. (I don’t think cauliflower counts!) Enjoy!


  1. Don’t believe I’ve ever eaten a flower. Our church library would certainly appreciate a copy of ‘Chasing Shadows’

    (Just finished ‘Where We Belong’) So good!!

    1. Can’t wait to read it! I have learned so much from well researched historical fiction. I have many edible flowers in my yard and yet I pray that it never comes down to needing to survive on them. But thankful for their amazing creation. Hollyhocks, Daly Lily, Violets, and so many more. God is our provider. Congrats on the new book launch!!

    2. I can’t wait to read this new book! I have read many books you have written and enjoy them all! I love historical fiction. We can learn so much from the strength of character of those who faced such trials. Thank you for your analogy of the enemy we face daily and our choices. It is good encouragement for us to trust God, and carry on. God bless you

    3. I haven’t eaten any flowers but I do know that I love the rich depth of your books so much. I’m enjoying the Restoration Chronicles now and look forward to reading Chasing Shadows.

    4. I cant wait to read this book!!

      The only flower I’ve eaten were some candied flower petals from France. I don’t know what kind they were, but I wasn’t a fan!

    5. Very excited to read this latest book! Dandelions are edible and many upscale restaurants now use them in salads. Cattails are also edible – I remember having to dig up the bulbs in a wilderness class and try them. Not tasty, but good to know in an emergency!

    6. I have eaten dandelions, and lavender. I have been actually drying lavender all week. My house smells lovely And I would love to win a copy of your new book too!

    7. I am very interested in the history of the Nazis. I can’t wait to read the book. Thank you so much for writing this blog. I gained knowledge that I didn’t have before.

    8. I can’t wait to get your next book! I am a big WWII history buff. I know that your book will not disappoint. My husband’s mother came from the Netherlands so I am real interested in this history.

  2. I can’t wait to read Chasing Shadows! I have read at least 30 books, novels and true stories, about survival during WWII…. I am 100% Dutch too….so this book will be read as soon as possible.
    Thanks for using your gifts to bless so many!
    Lois Wierenga
    Grand Rapids Michigan

    1. The Dutch eating tulip bulbs is something I never knew but will now share with my students when we talk about World War II. I have never actually eaten a flower, but one of the joys of childhood in Georgia in the summer is picking wild honeysuckle and sucking out the nectar.

  3. As a new resident of Holland (Michigan), I am eagerly looking forward to your latest book! I greatly enjoyed your Ellis Island fundraiser and look forward to tonight as well! One of the best DAR programs we had last year (Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton, Holland)was the one which zoomed you into our homes. Thank you again!

  4. I have never eaten flowers, but if I were hungry enough I would try. Hopefully that will never happen.
    Looking forward to reading this book.

  5. I can’t wait when this book is in dutch so i would like to win so i can read your beautifull book from about my hometown . I live in Holland and never ate tulips i did ate” Tropaeolum majus”..greetings and blessings from Holland

  6. I’ve eaten impatiens, but I didn’t like them! Congratulations, Lynn, on the release of Chasing Shadows!

  7. I’m so looking forward to reading Chasing Shadows!
    I’ve eaten red clover, honeysuckle, and lavender.
    Love your books!
    Ashley K.

  8. I’ve eaten lavender and bee balm. I don’t think I’ve tried any others – and tulips are my very favorite flowers, so I’m very glad that I don’t have to eat the bulbs.

    I love your books.

  9. I’m from the Netherlands. My grandparents have told me about the war. They lived in Amsterdam. Super excited that you wrote this Story. Can’t wait! So glad I never had to eat tullip bulbs! Worked on tullip and Lilly farms in my teenage years and bulbs smell

  10. Looking forward to reading this newest novel. I respect the hours of research that goes into any of your books. I’ve enjoyed several of them.

  11. I have not had any flowers myself, but my squirels do eat the tulip bulbs along with other edible flowers that I grow in my yard.

    I would love to win a copy of your book. I have read all your other books at least twice. I am a top fan of yours.

  12. Hi!
    I’ve never earn tulips, but I have eaten nasturtium, pansies, lavender (tea), hibiscus (tea), red clover, rose hips, rose petals & honey suckle.

  13. I was not aware of this part of history. I honestly can’t say what I would do in such a situation. I know what’s the right thing to do. But it’s easy to say it, not easy to do it. I don’t know that I’ve eaten a flower, but I’ve had a delicious hibiscus drink popular in Mexican culture.

  14. I’ve heard so often about the people who ate tulips to survive in Holland during the war. I can’t believe I never thought about how awful they would taste!
    I am so looking forward to reading this book!

  15. I am amazing at the resilience that this war created. I can’t imagine living in these circumstances and I hope I never have to. I don’t believe I have ever eaten any flower intentionally, except for store bought flour.

  16. I can’t wait to read it. My pre-ordered copy will arrive Monday.
    The courage of these people is amazing. I would have caved, I’m sure. I just watched a true story movie called, The 12th Man, and the courage, determination, bravery that these people had…wow!
    Oh, if cauliflower doesn’t count, I’m guessing neither does broccoli florets

  17. I’ve never eaten flowers but I love your books so would love to win your new one. Congrats on the release of it!

  18. Love your books; they are all thoroughly researched. Can’t wait to read this one. I have a friend I share your books with—she is going through cancer treatment now and would love the new book. Thank you for sharing your talent with your readership.

  19. So looking forward to reading your newest book. I devour each and every book you write and usually read them more than once.

  20. I’m so looking forward to reading this book! I love reading novels set during WWII, I love reading your books, and I have a Dutch heritage! On one side of the family my Opa was an onderduiker during the war, to avoid being conscripted by the Germans, and on the other side of the family my Opa was imprisoned – he was a pastor. And my husbands Opa was active in the resistance. So I expect this book will resonate with me!

  21. Hard to imagine being so hungry that I’d eat a tulip. Those poor people went through so much hardship! I have eaten nasturtiums, lavender, and squash blossoms (cooked) which were quite good.

  22. I’ve never eaten tulip bulbs. It is hard to imagine being so hungry you’d eat those. Thank you for writing this book. I am a huge fan of books that tell stories about WW 2 and all the courageous people during that time. Look forward to reading your book.

  23. So sorry , but this is not a thing to make a competition about. Or to tell others wich flower you have eaten. Come on, this is not a game. And certainly not light hearted.
    I come from the Netherlands.
    I have a family member through my husbands family line who died , aka was murdered because of his heroic resistance in the second world war.

  24. I have sucked the nectar out of lilacs. Sweet! Your book makes me think of Corrie ten Boom. I look forward to reading it!

  25. I am looking forward to reading Chasing Shadows! I love Christian WWII fiction and am so grateful that you and other writers are writing books about this time period. There is so much we can learn from this time in history.

  26. I have never eaten flowers but have read people in the Netherlands doing so for survival during WWII. Can’t wait to read this book. I live in Holland, MI.

  27. Thankful despite our circumstances. Often such a challenge. As you mentioned the Israelites – we look at them and wonder why they constantly complained but sadly we are no different. I always am encouraged by your stories! Looking forward to your latest!

  28. I just finished reading ‘If I Were You”, the first I’ve read of your books. I couldn’t put it down. I can’t wait to read another.

  29. As Audrey Hepburn was one of my favorite actresses, I was very intrigued when, several years ago, I learned of her Resistance activities. I had several close family members who served in the European Theater of Operations.

  30. I have eaten Red Clover and Dandelions a time or two, but I certainly wouldn’t want to live on them!

    Congratulations on your new book! I am looking forward to reading it!

  31. I have read a lot of books about World War Two and the depression. I learned about the eating of dandelion greens . That’s is the extent of my eating flowers other than in tea leaves . Good Blesses us in natures abundance of eatable food and I enjoy cauliflower! I also enjoy reading your books and I like the references to relying on God in scripture for strength and forgiveness. May God Bless you to spread his gospel message in a tangible way that makes it real for people in your stories . I like to read about history and the way it could been in peoples lives . Gods Peace , Karen Stipp

  32. All your books are wonderful . You’re one of my favourite authors. I’m sure this one will be a great success too. All the best for the release.

  33. I’m so anxious to read your new book and share it with my MIL who was born in 1942 in the Netherlands. She has many stories that make me wonder how I would have responded at that time and place in history. Her father has his name engraved on the wall at the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC. I know she will love this book and relate to it! Her birthday is next month and I know what she will be getting!

  34. I just recently read one of your novels, If I Were You. At first I thought the writing a bit too simplistic and the style too formulaic (rich, vulnerable versus poor, spunky.) But I was hooked soon enough and couldn’t put the book down. The plot is well developed and the characters are alive with all their strengths and weaknesses. I’m very curious how you will pull off your newest novel set in The Netherlands. I have a Dutch father and have lived in The Netherlands for 10 years.

  35. Excellent spiritual and life lessons! Historical fiction is always fascinating and enlightening!

  36. As a book seller who previously also published a newspaper for the Dutch immigrant community in North America, we sold many hundreds of copies of Henri van der Zee’s book “Hunger Winter”. Another book, titled ‘Hunger in Holland’ by Cornelia Fuykschot was also popular among the readers of The Windmill Herald (1958-2012). No other WWII book on Dutch war-time resistance, Corrie ten Boom’s The Hiding Place excepted, at our outlet outsold ‘Things We Couldn’t Say’ by resistance veteran Diet Eman of Grand Rapids and English professor James Schaap. With the next generation in the Dutch immigrant community also taking a keen interest in Dutch WWII history, Lynn Austin’s historical novel ‘Chasing Shadows’ very likely will outstrip the popularity of those earlier titles. Thanks for your attention to this depressing part of Dutch history. It deserves to be retold of how a huge net food exporter went hungry and two years after the Nazis were chased away, resumed its success story of agriculture and food production.

  37. I have loved reading a few of Lynn Austin’s books and look forward to reading many more! Recently read Chasing Shadows and highly recommend it.

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