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July 2, 2012 / Rebecca Foss

Within Dark There is Always Light

I loved this book! The Lost Wife is incredibly well written and engaging. I could not put this book down. Alyson Richman managed to take us on a journey of two families, linked by one couple, during the 1930’s and 40’s. Josef and Lenka had the world before them in pre-war Prague until the Nazi invasion separated them as Lenka refused to leave without her parents and sister. What I found incredibly captivating was how the story was told from both Josef and Lenka’s point of view.

Lenka’s captivity in both Terezin and Auschwitz was heart-wrenching, to say the least. Having been to Prague and visiting Terezin, I was incredibly moved by this story. Visiting Terezin in 2008, I remember feeling the sadness of the town and finding it hard to imagine the conditions the Jews were forced to live in. Reading further along, getting to know the heroes of Terezin and how they tried desperately to communicate with the outside world about the conditions of the camps, was incredibly touching, particularly hearing it from an artist’s perspective. My only criticism is that I would have like to have known more about what happened to Lenka after the war.

Lenka marked the beginning of her story as a naive art student and ended up as a risk taking artist. Josef choosing to be an obstetrician as a career, marked a sharp contrast to the death that surrounded him. His way of dealing with that was to bring life into the world. As the novel was inspired by true events, Richman weaved in historical details while taking the reader on a poetic journey. And let’s not forget, the love that Josef and Lenka shared outshone all of the horror that surrounded them and remained with them throughout their lives. This is a beautiful story that will stay with you well after you’ve turned the last page.

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