The Lost Wife
Author: Alyson Richman
Published: September 6, 2011
Genre: historical fiction
Paperback: 352 pages
Source: borrowed from the library
My Rating: 4 stars
Synopsis (from GoodReads): 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.
My Thoughts: Following the lives of two young Jewish people in Prague, Alyson Richman weaves a beautiful tale of love, heartache, loss, survival, and redemption. Lenka and Josef fall in love as their country is about to fall into the hands of the Germans. They marry, believing that they will be able to escape to America and live together, far away from Hitler and his war. But when Josef is unable to secure traveling papers for Lenka's family, she stays behind, believing that she will be able to go to America very soon. A serious of unfortunate circumstances follows, leaving Josef and Lenka to believe that the other one has died. Richman wrote this book in a very interesting manner, with Lenka's chapters being told as she experiences them in the 1940s. Josef's chapters are told as he looks back on his life. I had never read a book written this way before, where chapters were jumping between different periods of time and perspective, but it made for a whole story. I was able to see how Lenka was experiencing everything as it happened and how Josef thought things should have gone, with hindsight serving as his viewpoint of how everything could have turned out differently.
I loved Richman's writing. It was so simple and inviting and I found it difficult to put down. Reading about Lenka's time in Auschwitz is heartbreaking, but Richman tells it so simply. There are no superflous words. It is very straightforward. There was also a clear difference between the narrator's voices, which is something that many authors struggle with when writing from different characters perspectives. I just loved this story and I was crying by the time I finished it. I think this is more of a historical romance novel, but the romance is nearly secondary to the travesties of war that are happening. If you enjoy historical fiction, especially World War II, then this is something that you would really enjoy.