Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Lost Wife by Alyson Richman

Although the premise of this novel seems a little far fetched, in the afterword the author indicates it is based on a true story which she overheard someone tell at the hairdresser.  The action opens at the wedding of two young people.  The grandfather of the groom discovers that the grandmother of the bride is his first wife from pre-World War II Prague.  Both lived their lives under the impression that the other had not survived the war.

The story is beautifully told in flashbacks by both of the characters - to their happy and upper class childhoods in Prague, their meeting, falling in love and hasty marriage in an effort to escape Nazi Germany, the separation during the war and their separate experiences as he escapes to the US and she survives Terezin and eventually Auschwitz.  As with any Holocaust story, it is filled with sadness and tragedy but the focus is really on their enduring love for each other despite over 60 years of separation and their ability to rebuild their lives despite all their losses.  Their meeting in the end is brief but leaves us with hope that they'll be able to spend their last years together (and that their grandchildren will be able to live the lives that they were denied).

The story is well-written and engaging which makes the book hard to put down even though the end is actually revealed in the first few pages.

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