Sunday 15 July 2012

The Lost Wife by Alyson Richman

Alyson Richman is a new author to me, her latest novel; The Last Wife was recommended to me by the lovely Josie, host of the wonderful blog Jaffa Reads Too.

The Last Wife was published in March this year by Hodder & Stoughton and is a story of love, hope and despair set in worn torn Czechoslovakia.   The story opens in  New York City in the year 2000, where we find Josef preparing for the wedding of his much-loved grandson.  When Josef meets the bride's grandmother for the first time, he is shocked to the core - could this really be his 'lost wife' Lenka.  The woman who has been in his heart for the last 60 years, the woman who he thought had died in Auschwitz?

Josef and Lenka were two young Jewish people who were very much in love and were planning their lives together, dreaming of their future children and a long and happy life together.   Their dreams were snatched away from them by the War and purely because they were Jewish.

Alyson Richman
This is a cleverly woven story of their two lives, as Lenka is transported first to Terezin; the ghetto-like town that the Nazis have created for the Jews, and then finally to Auschwitz - the name alone installs fear into both the characters and the reader.  Josef lives a very different life, but Lenka is never far from his thoughts.

Even though the first chapter of The Lost Wife reveals the outcome for Josef and Lenka, this is still a book that captured me from the off.   The characters have been created with such warmth and humanity that the reader can do nothing else but care deeply about them.   Although this is ultimately a love story, it is also often a very harrowing read, nothing has been spared in the descriptions of both Terezin and Auschwitz, and despite the fact that most of us are very aware of just what happened in these places, I was still shocked and horrified by some of the scenes of barbaric cruelty doled out by humans to other humans.

I have been very impressed by Alyson Richman's writing, it is evocative and powerful.

1 comment: