Years after her grandfather's death, journalist Sarah Wildman stumbled upon a cache of his letters in a file labeled "Correspondence: Patients A-G". What she found inside weren't dry medical histories; instead what was written opened a path into the destroyed world that was her family's prewar Vienna. One woman's letters stood out: those from Valy-Valerie Scheftel, her grandfather's lover who remained behind when he fled Europe six months after the Nazis annexed Austria.
Valy's name wasn't unknown to Wildman - she had once asked her grandmother about a dark-haired young woman whose images she found in an old photo album. "She was your grandfather's true love," her grandmother said at the time and refused to answer any other questions. But with the help of the letters, Wildman started to piece together Valy's story. They revealed a woman desperate to escape and clinging to the memory of a love that defined her years of freedom.
In the course of discovering Valy's ultimate fate, Wildman was forced to reexamine the story of her grandfather's triumphant escape and how this history fit within her own life. In the process, she rescues a life seemingly lost to history.
©2014 Sarah Wildman (P)2015 Tantor
"Wildman's personal investment in this Holocaust-era narrative heightens the tension and raises the emotional stakes as her investigation unfolds." (Booklist)
I've picked up and put down this book several times over the past month. Maybe it's the author's interjecting herself into the story, maybe it's the repetitive thoughts (only slightly paraphrased), or maybe it's Tavia Gilbert's over-dramatizing narration...
I just can't continue this book. Maybe another narrator or an editor would have improved this book for me... but as it stands... I'm leaving this book behind.
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