Eva Traube Abrams, a semi-retired librarian in Florida, is shelving books one morning when her eyes lock on a photograph in a magazine lying open nearby. She freezes; it’s an image of a book she hasn’t seen in sixty-five years—a book she recognizes as The Book of Lost Names.
The accompanying article discusses the looting of libraries by the Nazis across Europe during World War II—an experience Eva remembers well—and the search to reunite people with the texts taken from them so long ago. The book in the photograph, an eighteenth-century religious text thought to have been taken from France in the waning days of the war, is one of the most fascinating cases. Now housed in Berlin’s Zentral- und Landesbibliothek , it appears to contain some sort of code, but researchers don’t know where it came from—or what the code means. Only Eva holds the answer—but will she have the strength to revisit old memories and help reunite those lost during the war?
As a graduate student in 1942, Eva was forced to flee Paris after the arrest of her father, a Polish Jew. Finding refuge in a small town in the Free Zone, she begins forging identity documents for Jewish children fleeing to neutral Switzerland. But erasing people comes with a price, and along with a mysterious, handsome forger named Rémy, Eva decides she must find a way to preserve the real names of the children who are too young to remember who they really are. The records they keep in The Book of Lost Names will become even more vital when the resistance cell they work for is betrayed and Rémy disappears.
The above synopsis of THE BOOK OF LOST NAMES is taken from Goodreads and does a great job of introducing this amazing novel based on real historic events during WW11. Those of you who follow my blog already know I’m a big fan of Kristin Harmel. I’ve been reading her wonderful historical novels for years and love them all. Kristin puts her heart and soul into each book. She also is the queen of research. THE BOOK OF LOST NAMES is no exception.
There really is an old religious text called Epities et Evangiles that Kristin used as the basis for THE BOOK OF LOST NAMES. It does not include code like she used in THE BOOK OF LOST NAMES, though. Kristin has a copy of this 1732 text. She was kind enough to show it to me through the magic of the internet. Kristin also has a copy of the Journal Officiel from 1944 which is in THE BOOK OF LOST NAMES. Great inspiration.
I’ve read a lot of fiction set during WW11. I still love reading about it. And I especially love finding new stuff. I love that this book is based on a true story. That enhances the experience for me. It’s continual learning. And I’m finding that I am even more of a sponge now than ever. I learned an awful lot about the intricacy of forgery in this new novel. At times, when Eva was working on a document, knowing how critical it was for it to be perfect, I could actually hear my own heart pounding in my chest.
This novel of courage, survival, and endurance is such an inspiration to all women everywhere. The sense of place is superb. The roundups in Paris were very real. The losses were profound. The scenes in the tiny town of Aurigon in the safe zone way atop the mountains were breathtaking and perfectly set the tone for the story. I still close my eyes and see the inside of the book room within the church . And I can almost hear the voice of the priest as he’s going about the business of safekeeping.
My review copy of THE BOOK OF LOST NAMES came from Gallery Books in exchange for an honest review. Yes, Yes, I loved it!
Kristin Harmel is the internationally bestselling of WHEN WE MEET AGAIN, THE SWEETNESS OF FORGETTING, and most recently THE WINEMAKER’S WIFE, as well as other novels. She lives in Florida with her husband and young son. We’ve been so fortunate to have her visit Copperfish Books and sign her books in years past. I can tell you firsthand that Kristin Harmel is an absolute delight!
You can purchase copies of THE BOOK OF LOST NAMES at Copperfish Books on July 21. They will be discounted 20%. Don’t miss out on this amazing book. And, you can sign up for a virtual event with Kristin tomorrow from our website. How cool is this.