Tuesday, June 05, 2012

The Lost Wife

The Lost Wife. Alyson Richman. 2011. Penguin. 352 pages.

New York City
2000
He dressed deliberately for the occasion, his suit pressed and his shoes shined. While shaving, he turned each cheek carefully to the mirror to ensure he hadn't missed a single whisker. 

The Lost Wife, at least at first glance, does not appear to be your traditional Holocaust novel. True, both hero and heroine are Jewish. True, over half of the novel is about what happened to them as a result of the Nazis invading their country and bringing the war all too close to home. But the way this story is told sets it a bit apart. For one, the framework of the story is NOT chronological. It begins and ends on the very same day, it begins with a reunion decades in the making. It begins with the grandfather of the groom meeting the grandmother of the bride and realizing their shared past. Their tragically-brief past.

Lenka, the heroine, perhaps has the greater task. Her narrative focuses on the past, for the most part. From her childhood to her teen years to her relationship with a young man, Josef. It covers the happy years, the anxious years, the joyful moments, the heartbreaking moments. Her time with Josef does seem brief--their marriage consisting of mere weeks when it was meant to last a lifetime. But war has a way of wrecking things.

Josef, the hero, balances out Lenka's story. His role in the novel is to relate to readers the post-war present. The focus is on his life in America. The war has cost him much, much, much more than just a wife. And so he does have to find a way to go on, and that includes marrying someone (another broken person forever changed and haunted by war, by what might have been, what should have been) and having a family. We catch glimpses of his home life through the decades. We see him as a husband, a father, a grandfather, a friend. He has never forgotten Lenka. Never.

Though the novel does jump around in time, I didn't find it confusing. I cared about both stories, though, I perhaps cared about hers a bit more. Both Josef and Lenka endured losses--great losses--and both witnessed things that were traumatic, I think her story is more compelling because of the duration. We see Lenka in two concentration camps. And we endure with Lenka. Or at least that is how it felt to me.

The way this story is told does take a good bit of suspense out of it, but I didn't mind because to me it was all about the journey. 

Read The Lost Wife
  • If you want to read an amazing, heartbreaking-yet-hopeful love story
  • If you are interested in reading about the Holocaust
  • If you are interested in Terezin and Auschwitz 
  • If you want a little art appreciation; this one has a definite art theme to it.
  • If you're looking for a compelling read that's almost impossible to put down

© 2012 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

7 comments:

Anna 6:43 PM  

I loved this book! It was so heartbreaking, but I was glad it started at the end so there was some hope amid all the tears.

Mandy 8:28 PM  

This sounds so amazing! Definitely want to read it!

Christina T 10:22 PM  

I'm glad you liked this book too. I think it helped that we know going into it that both characters survive their ordeal somehow and are reunited. I liked that the author included real historical figures too. I didn't know much about the Terezin ghetto before reading this book. Great review!

Gargi Bose 5:11 AM  

Your gifts actually make the recipient recall the sweet time and terms staying together, and if your connection stays in Gurgaon, you have the made easy way to land a grand joyous moment on them. It’s the gift collection from GurgaonFlowerShop.com
that does it all, and www.gurgaonflowershop.com
is the link that fetches you them all.

Gargi Bose 5:11 AM  

Your gifts actually make the recipient recall the sweet time and terms staying together, and if your connection stays in Gurgaon, you have the made easy way to land a grand joyous moment on them. It’s the gift collection from GurgaonFlowerShop.com
that does it all, and www.gurgaonflowershop.com
is the link that fetches you them all.

Gargi Bose 5:11 AM  

Your gifts actually make the recipient recall the sweet time and terms staying together, and if your connection stays in Gurgaon, you have the made easy way to land a grand joyous moment on them. It’s the gift collection from GurgaonFlowerShop.com
that does it all, and www.gurgaonflowershop.com
is the link that fetches you them all.

Jake and Danica 4:28 PM  

I sobbed through almost the whole story. My only complaint was that they didn't hug in the end; they held hands...I wish they would have hugged. All I know is when my husband got home, I just held him for a really long time.

Post a Comment

I'm always happy to hear from you! To help fight spam, comment moderation has been set up for posts older than two days. Feel free to ask me questions or ask for recommendations!

Review Policy

I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

I also review adult books.

I read in a variety of genres including realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, and chick lit. (I've read one western to date.)

I read a few poetry books, a few short story collections, a few graphic novels, a few nonfiction books.

I am especially fond of:

  • Regency romances (including Austen prequels/sequels)
  • Historical fiction set in the Tudor dynasty
  • Historical fiction and nonfiction set during World War II
  • Jewish fiction/nonfiction
  • dystopias
  • apocalyptic fiction
  • science fiction (especially if it involves time travel and alternate realities)
  • fantasy
  • multicultural books and international books

I am not a fan of:

  • sports books
  • horse books
  • dog books if the dog dies (same goes with most pets actually except maybe fish)
  • westerns (if it's a pioneer story with women and children, then maybe)
  • extremely violent books with blood, blood, and more blood

I am more interested in strong characters, well-written, fleshed-out, human characters. Plot is secondary to me in a way. I have to care about the characters in order to care about the plot. That being said, compelling storytelling is something that I love. I love to become absorbed in what I'm reading.

If you're interested in sending me a review copy of your book, I'm happy to hear from you. Email me at laney_po AT yahoo DOT com.

You should know several things before you contact me:

1) I do not guarantee a review of your book. I am just agreeing to consider it for review.
2) I give all books at least fifty pages.
3) I am not promising anyone (author or publisher) a positive review in exchange for a review copy. That's not how I work.
4) In all of my reviews I strive for honesty. My reviews are my opinions--so yes, they are subjective--you should know my blog will feature both negative and positive reviews.
5) I do not guarantee that I will get to your book immediately. I've got so many books I'm trying to read and review, I can't promise to get to any one book in a given time frame.
6) Emailing me every other week to see if I've read your book won't help me get to it any faster. Though if you want to email me to check and see if it arrived safely, then that's fine!

Authors, publishers. I am interested in interviewing authors and participating in blog tours. (All I ask is that I receive a review copy of the author's latest book beforehand so the interview will be productive. If the book is part of a series, I'd like to review the whole series.) Contact me if you're interested.

Unique Visitors and Google PR Rank

Free PageRank Checker

Pageloads Counter

Search Book Blogs Search Engine

The background is based on a background I found here...with some small adjustments on my part so it would work with the template.
Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

  © Blogger template Newspaper III by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP