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The Fortunate Ones: A Novel Hardcover – February 14, 2017
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“A subtle, emotionally layered novel about the ways art and other objects of beauty can make tangible the invisible, undocumented moments in our lives, the portion of experience that exists without an audience but must be preserved if we are to remain whole.” (New York Times Book Review)
“Must-read.” (Town & Country)
“Umansky’s richly textured and peopled novel tells an emotionally and historically complicated story with so much skill and confidence it’s hard to believe it’s her first.” (Kirkus Reviews (starred review))
“Umansky’s multilayered novel asks the big questions -- who are we and who are the people we love? What can we, and what should we, forgive? How does history write itself on our lives and our society? -- with compassion, tenderness, and a deft touch.” (Hanya Yanagihara, author of A Little Life)
“Ellen Umansky is an absurdly gifted writer, and her masterful debut is so smart, so compelling, so emotionally and intellectually and morally complex, it will make you see the world in a completely different way. I loved, loved, loved this book.” (Joanna Rakoff, internationally bestselling author of My Salinger Year)
“THE FORTUNATE ONES is like the melody of a song that you can’t forget. Its marvelous, utterly human characters will stay with you. In a story that spans decades and continents, Umansky takes readers on a journey that both challenges and affirms our notions of love, art, family, and sacrifice.” (David Gillham, New York Times bestselling author of City of Women)
“The Kindertransport, the recovery of Nazi-looted art, family ties, and adjustments to great loss...in Umansky’s first novel, they’re brought together in an original and tremendously moving way....[Umansky] sensitively addresses the complicated issue of survivor’s guilt and leaves readers with a sense of hope.” (Booklist (starred review))
“THE FORTUNATE ONES is a riveting, page-turning novel that investigates the true price of art and love and history. It is both magnificent in its sweep and intimate in its telling. And the end? It will take your breath away. Three cheers for Ellen Umansky’s perfect debut.” (Jennifer Gilmore, author of The Mothers)
“THE FORTUNATE ONES is a rich and engaging debut. Ellen Umansky skillfully transports readers on from war-torn Vienna and London to present day Los Angeles and the journey is intriguing, memorable and worthwhile.” (Pam Jenoff, internationally bestselling author of The Orphan's Tale)
“[A] gripping mystery about the fate of one painting and the two very different women who’ve spent their lives mourning its loss...A lush, haunting debut.” (Anna Solomon, author of Leaving Lucy Pear)
“With remarkable elegance and electric prose, Ellen Umansky has written a brilliant novel... I stayed up all night reading this book and it left me weeping, in awe of her gifts and, more than anything, so lucky to be alive.” (Joanna Hershon, author of A Dual Inheritance)
“[R]emarkable...One of Umansky’s many gifts to her lucky readers is the ability to illuminate the truly transcendent powers of art, but also its inherent shortcomings in the face of devastating loss. This is a stirring and ultimately uplifting debut.” (Helen Schulman, internationally bestselling author of This Beautiful Life)
“The characters in Ellen Umansky’s beautiful novel are haunted not only by loss but by the way one loss bleeds into another and reshapes the world... A profound and moving exploration of sorrow and reconciliation.” (Jonathan Rosen, author of Joy Comes in the Morning)
From the Back Cover
It is 1939 in Vienna, and as the specter of war darkens Europe, Rose Zimmer’s parents are desperate. Unable to get out of Austria, they manage to secure passage for their young daughter on a kindertransport, and send her to live with strangers in England.
When the war finally ends, Rose attempts to build a life for herself alone in London. Grief-stricken, she cannot help but search for one piece of her childhood: the Chaim Soutine painting her mother had cherished.
Many years later, the painting finds its way to America. In modern-day Los Angeles, Lizzie Goldstein also carries a burden of guilt that cannot be displaced. Years ago, the Soutine painting was stolen from her childhood home, on an evening in which Lizzie’s actions had unexpected but far-reaching consequences.
This painting will bring Lizzie and Rose together and ignite an unexpected friendship, eventually revealing long-held secrets and painful truths. Spanning decades and unfolding in crystalline, atmospheric prose, The Fortunate Ones is a haunting story of longing, devastation, and forgiveness, and a deep examination of the bonds and desires that map our private histories.
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Top Customer Reviews
The sadness that took over the young brother and sister who had to leave their parents and grew up in England is heartbreaking. It is especially relevant today given the number of refugees who are fleeing war-torn countries and are in similar situations. It is unimaginable to read about their pain and how they cope without the love and comfort of a mother and father, familiar surroundings, their native tongue as well as living in constant fear, and the unknown.
Equally compelling is the story about the young girl in Los Angeles. Her tragedy, while it might seem to pale in comparison to growing up during the hardship of war, is just as much a struggle to her. She has lost a parent and then, there is more misfortune. Her life seems as if it is coming undone.
I must admit that I was partial to Rose, the woman whom we learned about from childhood to old age. Her story had such detail and gut-wrenching emotions. You could feel her come to life, have compassion for her deep sorrow, and share in her moments of happiness.
This fascinating story shows how holding on to a painting, an object, that holds so many deep memories, gives hope. It is also interesting to see how it can bring people together. Each woman has a strong bong with their sibling, which keeps them whole during both good and bad times.
A poignant read and while there is hardship, it is enlightening and unputdownable.
Many works of fiction and non-fiction have concerned the art stolen by the Nazis. Much of the art belonged to Jews who were either private owners and collectors or from galleries owned by Jews. While some of the art was returned after the war to the survivors or their descendants, most wound up permanently lost or resold through galleries. In "The Fortunate Ones", a painting by the real painter, Chaim Soutine, had been a prized possession of the family of Rose Zimmer. Rose and her older brother had been sent on a Kindertransport from their native Vienna to England before the war began in 1939. Her parents weren't able to leave and died in the Holocaust. Also lost was the painting, which had always remained precious to Rose. She spent much of her life looking for the painting...and then the painting turned up. It was owned by Dr Joseph Goldstein, a Los Angeles dermatologist with two daughters. And the painting was just as dear to Goldstein's daughter, Lizzie.
Unfortunately, after the picture turned up. it was stolen from the Goldstein house. The rest of the book turns on this theft and the effect it had on everyone involved. What Ellen Umansky does very well is switch between the main characters - Rose and Lizzie - in both time and place. Her characters are well-drawn and the book really is an excellent read.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Every time I put it down to go do something else, I felt compelled to get back to the story.Read more