The Light After the War by Anita Abriel

Description

Inspired by an incredible true story of two Jewish friends who survived the Holocaust, this sweeping novel of love and friendship spans World War II from Budapest to Austria and the postwar years from Naples to Caracas, perfect for fans of The German Girl and We Were the Lucky Ones.

It is 1946 when Vera Frankel and her best friend Edith Ban arrive in Naples. Refugees from Hungary, they managed to escape from a train headed for Auschwitz and spent the rest of the war hiding on an Austrian farm. Now, the two young women must start new lives abroad. Armed with a letter of recommendation from an American officer, Vera finds work at the United States embassy where she falls in love with Captain Anton Wight.

But as Vera and Edith grapple with the aftermath of the war, so too does Anton, and when he suddenly disappears, Vera is forced to change course. Their quest for a better life takes Vera and Edith from Naples to Ellis Island to Caracas as they start careers, reunite with old friends, and rebuild their lives after terrible loss.

Moving, evocative, and compelling, this timely tale of true friendship, love, and survival will stay with you long after you turn the final page.

I should start this review by stating that I read an ARC e-galley from Atria Books through Net Galley. The final product may differ.

I need to be honest and say that I had mixed feelings on this book. I am a huge WWII genre fan and I really like true stories the best as I tend to find them inspiring and compelling. However, while this story is based on true events, I found it hard to believe. (But hey – truth can be stranger than fiction!). I struggled to connect to both of the main characters, preferring Vera over Edith as Edith seemed petulant and self-centered for most of the book. I found events hard to believe (e.g. one of the Rothschilds sees their picture in Time Magazine and sponsors them to come to the US but drops dead and can’t pick them up at Ellis Island so they go elsewhere; Vera falls in love with her boss and they truly love each other, but he leaves her as he can’t have children due to mumps as a child). I guess the thing that is hardest for me is that throughout this story, people want to help these two young women not because they have been through and survived the Holocaust and lost their families, but because they are beautiful.

I struggled a bit with the writing in parts, esp in the dialogues, but again, my copy was an ARC.

So – I did find the story really interesting of how they survived while hiding in a barn and helping with a farm, and how they went to Caracas as many Jewish refugees did and started over, and how they rebuilt their lives. And maybe all the amazing events are true — as I said truth can be stranger than fiction — there really was an Edith Ban who was a Hungarian Holocaust survivor who lived in Boston, was she the same Edith as in this book?

Overall I was left with mixed emotions. I don’t want this review to seem negative, I’m just being honest. I would have loved a bit at the end where the author says what’s true and what isn’t!

If you want a WWII read that is part romance and part survival and based on true events, then pick up a copy of The Light After the War! Let me know what you think.

THE GERMAN GIRL by Armando Lucas Correa

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Several weeks ago I read this amazing piece of historical fiction that is actually based on real events. I “wished” for it on Net Galley through Atria Books and was SO happy to receive an e-galley!

Description

Recognition

November 2016 Indie Next selection

Review: A Marriage of Opposites by Alice Hoffman

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I absolutely loved this book.

When I was at BEA in the spring, I stood in a very long line (I was number 3 though!) to see Alice Hoffman and to get her new book, The Marriage of Opposites.

First, I must say that Ms. Hoffman is one of my fave authors. I think I’ve read everything she’s written. She is quite gracious in person and was a delight in our albeit very brief meeting (where I tried not to gush). I was later interviewed by Simon and Schuster for something on camera, gushing about how much I love her writing (thankfully I have never found that video clip online, as I’m sure I’d be horrified at my lack of composure and disheveled appearance, being interviewed on the fly during a huge event in NYC).

Anyway – I digress. This story is about the parents of Camille Pissarro, the great French painter. I have to say that I knew absolutely nothing about his background, and while I am sure that he is fascinating in his own right, Hoffman’s story focuses on his mother, Rachel, and her life as she grows up among a community of refugee European Jews, who are living in the Virgin Islands during the early 1800’s. Rachel is married off to an old widower while she is quite young, and she comes to love his children and to respect him. When he dies suddenly, his younger nephew arrives to take over the business. He and Rachel fall deeply in love – even though she is substantially older and their union is forbidden as they are seen as “family”. Out of their relationship comes Camille.

I loved this story — the characters, the setting, the writing. Rachel’s story was fascinating to me and I loved the subplots and “supporting characters” with their stories along the way.

Historical Fiction at its finest!

To get you in the mood, here’s a picture by Pissarro that I got via Google Images:

Jardin Mirbeau aux Damps