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The Lost Wife

The Lost Wife

Book rating: 03 Paperback

By (author) Alyson Richman

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  • Publisher: Hodder Paperback
  • Format: Paperback | 352 pages
  • Dimensions: 128mm x 196mm x 24mm | 240g
  • Publication date: 29 March 2012
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 1444730207
  • ISBN 13: 9781444730203
  • Sales rank: 19,532

Product description

There on her forearm, next to a small brown birthmark, were six tattooed numbers. 'Do you remember me now?' he asked, trembling. She looked at him again, as if giving weight and bone to a ghost. 'Lenka, it's me,' he said. 'Josef. Your husband.' During the last moments of calm in prewar Prague, Lenka, a young art student, falls in love with Josef. They marry - but soon, like so many others, they are torn apart by the currents of war. In America Josef becomes a successful obstetrician and raises a family, though he never forgets the wife he thinks died in the camps. But in the Nazi ghetto of Terezin - and later in Auschwitz - Lenka has survived, relying on her skills as an artist and the memories of a husband she believes she will never see again. Now, decades later, an unexpected encounter in New York brings Lenka and Josef back together. From the comfort of life in Prague before the occupation to the horrors of Nazi Europe, The Lost Wife explores the endurance of first love, the resilience of the human spirit and our capacity to remember.

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Author information

Alyson Richman is the author of The Mask Carver's Son, Swedish Tango, and The Last Van Gogh. She is the daughter of a painter and an engineer, and her novels have been published in more than ten languages. She lives in Long Island, New York with her husband and two children.

Customer reviews

By Marianne Vincent 25 Apr 2014 3

The Lost Wife is the fourth novel by American author, Alyson Richman. In the year 2000 in New York City, Josef Kohn and Lanie Gottlieb meet: they are attending the rehearsal of the wedding of their grandson and granddaughter. The old man feels the woman looks familiar, and soon discovers why. He realises she is Lenka Maizel, the woman he married in Prague, more than sixty years earlier. Richman tantalises the reader with the meeting of a long lost couple, then fills her novel with the story of their separate lives. The account of how Josef and Lenka meet is pure romance. What happens after they are separated becomes a Holocaust story. The scant two-page epilogue might be a disappointment to readers who want more of the present-day interaction between the main characters. Richman explores love, family loyalty, the choices we make in life, loss, grief, heartbreak, resilience under duress, hope and despair. She gives the reader some wonderfully evocative prose: "He took the record from its sheath and placed the needle down. And the room filled with a rain of notes" and "He played more beautifully than I had ever heard him play. The music resonating like a heart torn wide open, each note released onto golden wings" are just two examples. Richman's extensive research into the Holocaust aspect and Terezin (and of this there is quite a lot in the novel) is apparent. A thought-provoking and moving read.

Review quote

This beautifully written, heart-rending, evocative novel explores the power of first love and the resilience of the human spirit. Life & Living 'The reader is taken back to an age of innocence in pre-war Prague as the young couple fall in love. In Richman's fourth novel, the use of language is highly imaginative.' The Daily Telegraph The Sophie's Choice of this generation. John Lescroart, New York Times bestselling author 'If you're a fan of Paulina Simon's The Bronze Horseman trilogy, this is right up your alley. Have the tissues near as the story of how they come to find one another again unfolds.' GRAZIA A lyrical tale of the ravages of war, lost and the human quest for redemption. The Good Book Guide Tragedy and hope, love and loss, and the strength to endure are expressed through Richman's graceful writing and powerful characters, many based on actual Holocaust victims and survivors. Booklist Heart-wrenching ... a genuinely moving portrait. Publisher's Weekly Daringly constructed ... Richman writes with the clarity and softness of freshly-fallen snow. Loring Mandel, Emmy winning playwright Begins with a chilling revelation and had me hooked throughout. A love story wrapped in tragedy and survival, I read THE LOST WIFE in one sitting. Tense, emotional and fulfilling: a great achievement by Alyson Richman. Martin Fletcher, Special Correspondent NBC News, Winner of the Jewish National Book Award