Tag Archives: Nazi Germany

Book Buzz: The Lost Letter

Book Buzz: The Lost Letter

Every artifact has a story behind it, be it a stone jug from the Prehistoric Age or the mummified remains as the last vestiges of the lost city of Pompeii. The study of antiquities can be left to archeologists, but curiosity can inspire all of us to muse about the lives that were touched by the relic that has survived.

In Jillian Cantor’s achingly beautiful new novel The Lost Letter, it is a unique engraved stamp from World War II Austria that prompts a quest for answers.

Book Buzz: The Lost LetterThe Lost Letter

The action shifts from the late 1980s in Los Angeles to the late 1930s in Austria.

Katie is a freelance writer whose life has come undone. Her father is suffering from dementia and has moved into a nursing home. His care has required her full-time attention, and in the midst of this crisis her husband decides to leave her. She puts her emotions on hold while she devotes herself to her father’s care as he drifts in and out of senility.

Katie attempts to simplify his life by sorting through his belongings. An avid philatelist (stamp collector) his entire life, her father has left his cherished collection to her but she has no interest in keeping it. She locates a local stamp appraiser and makes an appointment to see him. Could there be something of value there? Or is the collection simply another thing for her to dispose of?

The appraiser contacts her in a few days. He has found an unusual stamp, one he has never seen before, on an unopened letter in the collection. Who was the recipient, and why was the letter never delivered? He wants to research this further and has Katie’s consent.

However, in a lucid moment, Katie’s father is apoplectic when she tells him she has given the collection away, but he can’t verbalize exactly why.

The story shifts to the earlier time, just as World War II is spreading across Europe. Austria has just been occupied by Germany, and the plight of Jewish families becomes extremely grim. Frederick Faber is a renowned stamp engraver with a family and a beautiful home, but as the Nazis move closer to his town destroying everything in its path, the family prepares to flee. Faber’s apprentice Kristoff, an artist struggling to learn the fine craft of stamp engraving, is not Jewish and therefore not in imminent danger. Deeply devoted to the family, he promises Faber to take care of the home and business.

Before he flees, Faber is instrumental in forging the resistance to the Nazis through his craft and responsible for evacuating many Jews to safety.

As the tension grows, the intertwining of both stories culminates in a stunning conclusion.

The Lost Letter is a story of resilience,  love, and triumph. Cantor is a historical fiction writer extraordinaire, her characters seem real and relatable, and the dual timeline works seamlessly as the two threads ultimately converge. The intertwining of both stories connects a time of persecution to a future in which survivors have prevailed.

The Lost Letter is receiving critical praise, including being named as Amazon’s Best Book of the Month.  It would go on my Best of the Year as well.

And now I am off to look through my husband’s stamp collection.

One of my lucky readers will receive a copy of The Lost Letter. Please leave a comment below and a winner will be randomly selected. USA addresses only, please.

 

I received a copy of The Lost Letter from Riverhead Books for an honest review,
which is the only kind of review I write.

If you like my blog post, please share it!
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Book Buzz: Along the Infinite Sea

The plot of Along the Infinite Sea is based on an item that appeared in a Connecticut newspaper several years ago. This is the gist of it:

A vintage 1936 Mercedes Benz 540K Special Roadster is recently discovered in a shed in Greenwich, Connecticut, untouched for decades. Said to have been owned by a German baroness and driven around Europe in the years before World War II, the car had been brought with her to America when she fled Europe.

Complete with a lipstick-smeared cigarette butt in the ashtray and a single leather glove in the glove compartment, this rare sports car is completely refurbished and sells for $12 million.

Along the Infinite Sea

With that intriguing tidbit as a springboard, author Beatriz Williams spins a tale of romance, adventure and desperate escapes in Along the Infinite Sea, the story of two strong women whose lives are separated by decades and distance.

Along the Infinite Sea

Annabelle is a young girl coming of age in 1930s Europe, and Pepper, a single pregnant woman living in Florida in the 1960s. As fate would have it, one day their paths coincide.

Thanks to that Mercedes Benz.

Being a fan of historical fiction, I was completely absorbed by the plot line in Europe. It was the early 1930s, an era of decadence and debauchery, of parties at seaside villas and expensive Parisian hotels. Annabelle meets and falls in love with a German Jew on the Côte d’Azur. They pledge their commitment to each other and make plans for the future.

But their romance is aborted as the Nazi regime comes into power. Annabelle’s lover is arrested and sent away, although she doesn’t realize that. She thinks he has left her.

Desperate to find a husband, she is wooed by a Nazi military commander and consents to marry him. She finds out much later that it was her husband who gave the orders to deport her lover.

In another era and another place, 1960s American south, Pepper finds herself in dire straits. She is pregnant and alone. The father of her unborn baby is her boss, a married senator. She is not close with her family and she has no place to go. She is frightened when confronted by goons, hired by the senator to intimidate her. She needs a friend badly.

Annabelle and Pepper meet over the sale of the Mercedes Benz and find out they have more in common than the car. They both know the agony of being pregnant, unwed, and alone. With their newfound bond they each come to grips with the ghosts in their past and make choices about the future.

This was a fun book to read and the plot twists kept me guessing until the very end. Williams captures both eras — prewar Europe and 1960s USA — in a convincing and evocative way.

So I did a little digging and I found a photo of the Mercedes Benz. Here it is.

Along the Infinite Sea

Some car, huh?

One of my lucky readers will receive a copy of Along the Infinite Sea. Please leave a comment below and a winner will be chosen randomly. USA addresses only, please

I received a copy of Along the Infinite Sea from G.P. Putnam’s Sons for an honest review,
which is the only kind of review I write.

If you like my blog post, please share it!
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