Customer Review

304 of 316 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unforgettable Love, September 17, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: The Lost Wife (Paperback)
If you are expecting a conventional Holocaust novel with a love story as the background of the plot, this is the wrong book for you. Alyson Richman has created a heart-wrenching story of Terezin and Auschwitz through visual arts of the main female character and the profound pain of the central male character. Lenka Maisel, a beautiful young girl, lived in Prague with her gentle, intelligent father, artist mother and younger sister. She had wonderful friends, a comfortable life and was talented enough to be accepted at an elite Art academy. She met her true love, Josef Kohn, also from an accomplished family. Their only problem was they lived in Prague and they were Jewish.

The beautiful city of Prague with its elegant landscape and historical architecture was one of Hitler's conquests. As in most European cities during World War II, the Jews were the scapegoats, and the Germans enacted the Nuremberg laws giving the Jews little freedom and removed all their worldly possessions to fill their illicit coffers. Despite this despicable course of action, Josef and Lenka marry quickly. Fleeing the Nazis was the only salvation for any European Jew. Josef's family had secured exit visas; Lenka's family had no money or possessions to buy their way out of the Czech homeland.

What follows is not the predictable ghetto/concentration camps horrors, it is more of palpable images. From the perspective of an artist, Richman gives the reader the beautiful, radiant red and orange colors of Prague, the countryside, and happiness to the grays, blacks and fetid odors of the camps. Her writing evokes the smells of flowers and the stench of the train cars, barracks and the wretched illnesses prevalent in the prisoners. It is well known that art and music became the only enjoyment allowed prisoners juxtaposed to the Nazi's enjoyment of sapping the Jews' intellect to destroy them.

I have read many Holocaust fiction and non-fiction books but Richman tackles the subject with a mixture of an undying passionate love with grotesque carnage and humiliation. I could feel Lenka and Josef's singular love and also the absolute horror of Nazi's atrocities. It is not easy to read. The author gives us the day-to-day operation of the camps provoking devastating sadness as the terror escalated. There are secondary characters, connecting the plot, who are unique and serve to flesh out a balance of personalities. The only weakness was Richman's abbreviated attention to Lenka's second marriage in contrast to Josef's years with Amalia.

Josef's profession as an obstetrician served as a sharp contrast from the death knell of the war. Survivor's guilt seems to prevent Lenka and Josef from fully enjoying their continued existence. The reader once again learns about the enduring love of family at all costs and remains horrified of what others are capable of doing to extinguish their lives.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

[Add comment]
Post a comment
To insert a product link use the format: [[ASIN:ASIN product-title]] (What's this?)
Amazon will display this name with all your submissions, including reviews and discussion posts. (Learn more)
Name:
Badge:
This badge will be assigned to you and will appear along with your name.
There was an error. Please try again.
Please see the full guidelines here.

Official Comment

As a representative of this product you can post one Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
The following name and badge will be shown with this comment:
 (edit name)
After clicking the Post button you will be asked to create your public name, which will be shown with all your contributions.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.  Learn more
Otherwise, you can still post a regular comment on this review.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
 
System timed out

We were unable to verify whether you represent the product. Please try again later, or retry now. Otherwise you can post a regular comment.

Since you previously posted an Official Comment, this comment will appear in the comment section below. You also have the option to edit your Official Comment.   Learn more
The maximum number of Official Comments have been posted. This comment will appear in the comment section below.   Learn more
Prompts for sign-in
 

Comments

Tracked by 3 customers

Sort: Oldest first | Newest first
Showing 1-6 of 6 posts in this discussion
Initial post: May 1, 2012 9:29:44 PM PDT
R. Giden says:
Mr. August's review has certainly aroused my interest in reading this book. I am a "student" of the Holocaust event and have accumulated and read a large collection of Holocaust books...both biographical and fictional . But this book especially interests me because of its taking place in Prague and
Mr. August's comments on the author's description of the countryside, etc. My grandfather was born in Prague and fortunately emigrated to New York
with his family in the late 1870's way before the Holocaust. I visited Prague in 1991 right after the Russian occupation ended and the citizens were
recovering financially and emotionally from the occupation. The city was very dark and many structures needed repair...but I could still see the original
beauty peeking through the darkness. Popular restaurants were crowded, the clock in Wenceslas Square was working and musicians were playing.

Posted on May 6, 2012 5:10:58 AM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Nov 19, 2013 10:30:26 AM PST]

In reply to an earlier post on May 15, 2012 2:33:36 PM PDT
Mr. August says:
huh?

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 30, 2012 12:11:55 AM PDT
LagunaLady says:
This is a novel, which by definition is fiction. You seem to be slightly confused....

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 30, 2012 12:13:21 AM PDT
LagunaLady says:
I agree with you. I haven't read the book yet, but a novel is obviously fiction!

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 18, 2013 9:00:57 PM PST
Nathan says:
Novels are typically fiction...
‹ Previous 1 Next ›

Review Details