Monday, July 13, 2020

The Light After the War

Title:  The Light After the War
Author:  Anita Abriel
Publication Information:  Atria Books. 2020. 320 pages.
ISBN:  1982122978 / 978-1982122973

Book Source:  I received this book through NetGalley free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Opening Sentence:  "Vera Frankel had never seen a sun so bright or streets teeming with so many people."

Favorite Quote:  "There's wasn't only one perfect life. If one set one's mind to it, there were many ways to be happy."

Hungary to Austria to Naples to the United States to Venezuela to Australia. This is the journey Vera Frankel and Edith Ban. According to the author's note, Vera Frankel was the author's mother. This book is based on her story. The object of the writing is clearly stated at the ending of the book itself. "One of the great things about human being is their capacity to learn ... We'll tell the story of our children, and they'll tell their children, and no one will every forget." 

Vera and Edith were best friends as children in Hungary. They ended up on a train to Auschwitz. After an escape from that train, the hid out the rest of the war on an Austrian farm. The possibility of a job for Vera brings the two to Naples.

Many of the stories of the Holocaust that I have read are about the atrocities that took place. This book begins with Naples in 1946 at the end of World War II.  Vera and Edith's childhood in Hungary and their journey from Hungary to Naples is revealed slowly in flashbacks. The scars of war they both carry gradually emerge and carry through the story. The loss of loved ones and the guilt of survival haunts them both in different ways. I would say that some of the connections and events seem far fetched and contrived. However, if this is the author's mother, then I hope the story is what it was.

The focal point of this story is what happens after the war. It is about refugees trying to find a new home while longing for the one they lost. It is about the unrelenting search for answers as to the fate of loved ones. It is about starting over again and again if needed to build a new life. It is about the possibility of loving and laughing again. It is, of course, about friendship that began in childhood and perhaps was cemented through the shared experience of survival.

Much of the book also becomes about Vera's relationships. She finds love in Naples which in some way brings her to the United States. A twist of fate at Ellis Island puts her on her way to Caracas. I say "her" for much of the story and the destinations are driven by Vera's stories; Edith comes along.

The remainder of the story is about relationships - good and bad - and about careers. Vera and Edith both start over so many times in so many ways. Do not expect a book truly focused on the war or the horrors of the Holocaust. It reads in many ways like a romance about a young woman making her way in life. The latter part of Vera's story in fact has nothing to do with the war at all. It has to do with marriage and family.

The book ends up a light, quick summer read but not quite what I expected from a World War II story.

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.

No comments:

Post a Comment