Publisher: Penguin Group Trade paper 340 pages/ Dec. 2011
Just take a look at this cover! I was immediately drawn to open this book.
Alyson Richman has outdone herself with this deeply emotional novel of the holocaust. Beginning in Prague just before the war broke out and continuing through ww11 and after, I was kept raptly at attention with this heart rending story of love and devotion, heart break and family, lost and found.
This is the story of Lenka and Joseph. But it is also the story of their families and it is the story of countless others who survived the holocaust. And of those many others who did not survive. There are times when I ask myself why I am fascinated with the holocaust. After all, it’s certainly not a time I lived through. I don’t even know anyone who was part of it. But it haunts me even so. I don’t remember how it first came in to my consciousness. I just know that it has become important to me. I read almost everything that I can get my hands on about it. So, having said all that, I can say with all honesty that this new novel by Alyson Richman is one of the top three novels of the holocaust that I have read.
Lenka and Joseph are young Jewish students who fall in love and marry just before the boots of the Nazi’s tear about their lovely worlds. Lenka is a gifted art student and Joseph studies medicine in the footsteps of his father. They have lived in fine homes with good bone china and their mothers have worn dresses made with the finest materials. They have been pampered.
Richman begins the book with the end. At first, this was disconcerting to me. I even put the book aside. But when a friend of mine whose judgement I trust told me she loved it, well, I picked it back up. So happy I did. Not only is the writing superb; the story is contagious, the characters unforgettable. I love this book.
It is amazing how many countries were invaded during the holocaust. How many thousands of people perished. How many cities were destroyed. And how much artwork was lost. Art plays an important part in this novel. And I love that their is a character in the book who is taken from a real artist from that time. The camps were full of talented artists. Some, very bravely, put their lives on the line to smuggle out sketches of the atrocities they experienced first hand.
I know of many of the famous camps. But I had never heard of Terezin. At Terezin, the Jews were kept in squalor but they were at least allowed some special treatment. It was a community of sorts. Awful, but not as awful as the big camps.
You’ll find yourself quickly turning the pages to find out more about the worlds of Lenka and Joseph. What happened to them? How do you go on when your world has been stolen from you? This explosive novel will open up your mind to the possibility of miracles.
I am still thinking about this story. I finished reading it days ago. But it will stay alive in my mind forever. Let’s hope history never repeats itself in this way.
I received my copy of THE LOST WIFE by Alyson Richman as a Christmas gift.