Jenna Blum comes to the blog today with her latest release, a story that pivots around grief and loss from WWII, and the lingering effects on relationships, perspectives and hope. Please read on for my review of
The Lost Family
Several years ago there was a huge movement to find ‘untold stories’, most from veterans of World War II. Often what was missed is the generation of men and women who didn’t share stories of the hard times (mine included), and that lost knowledge and family history can, and does resonate down through the generations that follow, often in ways unexpected. Such is the story of Peter Rashkin. He’s buried (from the public) his tragic past and losses, with his popular restaurant Masha, named for the wife he lost. Not only a wife, but family and his own sense of how life could be as he is a survivor of Auschwitz. Now, clutching those secrets tightly, and trying to function through the guilt that breathes through his every day, Peter is not enchanted by or believing the hype and adoration. A single, apparently straight and eligible, successful male is bound to attract notice.
Enter June, a model and some twenty years younger than Peter. He’s never been interested in any of the people who enter his restaurant, but she is different. Feeling he’s been mired in his own grief long enough – it’s time to move forward and June may just be the light that will remove the darkness he clutches to close. Soon she’s pregnant and they marry, Peter doing his best to keep the darkness at bay, with limited success. It’s important that he keep those long-buried memories of family and days past in the past, the grief only serving to tinge and remove him from the little family unit.
Told in three perspectives, the effects of Peter’s grief and secrets are clearly written in the reactions of his wife and daughter. While his wife can’t compete with the ‘ghosts’ of his past, his daughter never quite understood her father’s remove, or her mother’s way of coping with his sadness. While I could understand Peter’s perspective, and felt horrible for it, there was an essential remove for me to the other characters, as Peter’s grief was so overpowering and commanded every moment. A bit uneven, but shows the need to understand, share and come to terms with the ghosts of our past – ALL of us.
Title: The Lost Family
Author: Jenna Blum
Genre: Family Saga, Historical Fiction, Post World War II
Published by: Harper
Published on: 5 June, 2018
Source: Publisher Via Edelweiss
Audio Length: 14 Hours: 17 minutes
Get Your Copy: Amazon ♦ Barnes&Noble ♦ iTunes ♦ Kobo ♦ Downpour ♦ IndieBound ♦ Google ♦Audible ♦Direct from Publisher
The New York Times bestselling author of Those Who Save Us creates a vivid portrait of marriage, family, and the haunting grief of World War II in this emotionally charged, beautifully rendered story that spans a generation, from the 1960s to the 1980s
In 1965 Manhattan, patrons flock to Masha’s to savor its brisket bourguignon and impeccable service and to admire its dashing owner and head chef Peter Rashkin. With his movie-star good looks and tragic past, Peter, a survivor of Auschwitz, is the most eligible bachelor in town. But Peter does not care for the parade of eligible women who come to the restaurant hoping to catch his eye. He has resigned himself to a solitary life. Running Masha’s consumes him, as does his terrible guilt over surviving the horrors of the Nazi death camp while his wife, Masha—the restaurant’s namesake—and two young daughters perished.
Then exquisitely beautiful June Bouquet, an up-and-coming young model, appears at the restaurant, piercing Peter’s guard. Though she is twenty years his junior, the two begin a passionate, whirlwind courtship. When June unexpectedly becomes pregnant, Peter proposes, believing that beginning a new family with the woman he loves will allow him to let go of the horror of the past. But over the next twenty years, the indelible sadness of those memories will overshadow Peter, June, and their daughter Elsbeth, transforming them in shocking, heartbreaking, and unexpected ways.
Jenna Blum artfully brings to the page a husband devastated by a grief he cannot name, a frustrated wife struggling to compete with a ghost she cannot banish, and a daughter sensitive to the pain of both her own family and another lost before she was born. Spanning three cinematic decades, The Lost Family is a charming, funny, and elegantly bittersweet study of the repercussions of loss and love.
A copy of this title was provided via Publisher Via Edelweiss for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: