Monday, May 21, 2012

Review: The Lost Wife, Alyson Richman

Publisher: Berkley Books
Pages: 344 (Paperback)
Release: 2011
Genre: Historical novel, WWII
Source: Bought
Good to know: Alyson Richman have written a few books before this one was published. She lives in New York. The Lost Wife became a bestseller fast.

In pre-war Prague, the dreams of two young lovers are shattered when they are separated by the Nazi invasion. Then, decades later, thousands of miles away in New York, there's an inescapable glance of recognition between two strangers. Providence is giving Lenka and Josef one more chance. From the glamorous ease of life in Prague before the Occupation, to the horrors of Nazi Europe, The Lost Wife explores the power of first love, the resilience of the human spirit- and the strength of memory.
 A love-story that moved me

The Lost Wife is a strong lovestory that went right to my heart.

The story in the book begins in New York City in 2000. A wedding is underway, and the grooms grandfather is looking forward to the event. Little does he know that the rehearsal-dinner will ble much more moving that he had thought.  He sees a woman who reminds him of someone, and it turns out that she is in fact his wife, the wife he thought died during WW2.

There are two sensations of skin you will always remember in your lifetime: the first time you fall in love - and that person holds your hand - and the first time your child grasps your finger. In each of those times, your are sealed to the other for eternity. 
After the prologue, we are transported back in time to right before WW2. We get to know Lenka, who is a member of a Jewish family living in Prague. They lead a good and comfortable life, and Lenka loves her nanny Lucie. Lenka is talented when it comes to drawing, and in 1936 she is admitted to an artschool in Prague. At that time she is 17 years old. At school she becomes friends with Veruska, and Veruska has a brother, Josef, who studies medicine. Lenka and Josef fall in love, but while their feelings are growing, dark skies are headed against Prague. Soon the Nazis will rule the town, and Lenka finds herself in the ghetto Terezin where everyone lives under terrible conditions.
That year, I started learning a new art. The art of being invisible. Mama, too, no longer dressed to be noticed. She dressed to disappear. (...)We no longer drank from colored crystal. Instead, the ruby-red wine goblets and the cobalt water glasses were all sold for far less than they were worth. 
The Lost Wife is the kind of book that totally consumed me, and a book I think it is hard not to be moved by. The auhtor have based parts of the story on actual events, and she have done a lot of research into how the Jews lived in the ghetto Terezin. I also liked reading about a part of WW2 that I did not know that much about, I am especially thinking about how the artists and painters rebelled against Hitler's brutal regime.  There are a lot of tragic events in this book, and that made it sad at times. Sometimes I felt sick to my stomach whilst reading.

The chapters alternated between Lenka and Josef' point of view. I liked that a lot. That way we get to know how each of them are feeling, and we can almost feel how they fight for their love and to get back to each other.

The author is good at describing love, and in particular the love between Lenka and Josef. But she is also good at describing the love between siblings and parents. Aside from being a lovestory, this book is also a novel about standing together. About trying to stand tall when you are in a terrible situation, not loosing who you are and the values you hold dear.

In my old age; I have come to believe that love is not a noun, but a verb. An action. Like water, it flows to its own current. If you were to corner it in a dam, true love is so bountiful it would flow over. Even i separation, even in death, it moves and changes.
The Lost Wife is a pageturner. The kind of book you dig into and not want to put down until you have read the ending. I have heard someone comparing it to Sarahs's Key. I have not read Sarah's Key, so I do not know if that is a valid comparison. I think the Lost Wife will appeal to everyone who loved gripping historical reads that touch upon your emotions. At some points it reminded me of Between Shades of Grey by Ruta Sepetys.  

Other reviews:
What Women Write

Once Upon A Romance
Melody's Reading Corner

1 comment:

Rachel said...

Hi! I've always wanted to read the Lost Wife, but wanted to let you know that Sarah's Key is a terrible book. I'm following you from Alison Can Read's FF. Check out my blog here:

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