Peter Rashkin is the chef of a very prestigious restaurant in NYC called Masha’s. He has named it after his wife who disappeared along with their twin girls during the Holocaust. The year is 1965 and Peter is still consumed with guilt as he feels that if he had only listened, they would have fled Germany in time. Now he’s a haunted man. A man who’s thrown himself into his work, totally. Even though he’s incredibly handsome and a very eligible bachelor about town, he is only interested in forgetting the horror of his past life. If only he’d listened…
When June comes along, she touches something inside Peter than has lain dormant for years. She’s twenty years Peter’s junior and the passion between them is explosive and tangible. June becomes a famous supermodel and their relationship shifts. They fall in love. But Peter is still as flawed as ever. When June becomes pregnant all bets are off. And they get married.
What I haven’t told you is that June’s obsession with her weight is unprecedented. Time after time we witness her ordering food, only to nibble at a lettuce leaf. So went the life of a model like Twiggy back in the day. And she’s married to a most famous chef. Hm.
Once Peter and June’s daughter is born the boredom sets in for June. And as Elspeth gets older she suffers the same anxiety about food and weight as her mother. We quickly learn how her parents have transferred their private hells onto this child who they love dearly.
If only Peter could open up about his prior life. Tell June about it. But, sadly, he does not tell anyone the particulars. However, we do learn more in depth about what makes Peter keep his past buried. It comes bit by bit throughout the novel. What I love about this novel is that it is NOT a World War 11 novel. Yes, it’s dealing with the war and the horror the families dealt with. But, it’s about much more than the actual war. It totally hit a nerve for me. And, then there’s June’s story. She’s vibrant and young and needs more from life than Peter is able to provide.
Told in no nonsense prose, THE LOST FAMILY will draw you in and peak your interest with an unsentimental telling. That’s what I finally figured out was the uniqueness of what could have been just another war story.
What happens after June and Peter are married and have the child is predictable. But, the telling and the personal insight are not. This is a novel to bite into and chew on. You’ll be thinking about it for a long, long time.
is the NYT award winning novelist of THOSE WHO SAVE US. You may remember it some years back. Every bookclub was reading it.
My review copy arrived from Harper Collins in exchange for an honest review. It’s a real winner.