No one escapes loss -- loss of a parent, sibling, mate, friend or a pet. Loss and remembrance is stitched into the fabric of our lives. The Lost Wife by Alyson Richman portrays these feelings vividly. The book is based on a real happening told to the author. Before the onset of World War II in Prague, Josef, a medical student and Lenka an art student, fall in love and marry. All is well except they live in Prague and they are Jewish. Josef and his family, Lenka included, secure exit visas but Lenka will not leave her parents and sister, believing she can follow Josef later.
Josef's ship, the SS Athenia, is sunk by the Germans and he and his family are listed as dead. He is rescued, survives and makes it to America where he hears of the Jews in Prague being sent to concentration camps. There is no way to make contact.
Lenka is removed from her home in Prague and sent to Camp Terezin, then to Auschwitz. She survives. Both she and Josef make lives for themselves, marrying and having children, both believing each to be dead. Survivors' guilt and memories prevent Lenka and Josef from fully enjoying their existence with their families. They seem haunted.
In the year 2000, when eighty-five-year-old Josef meets the grandmother of his future granddaughter-in-law, he is struck by how familiar this old woman looks. Could this be his lost wife, Lenka?
I suggest if you read "The Lost Wife" and would like another of similar theme, you read Losing Julia by Jonathan Hull. The war this time is World War I. Patrick Delaney is now eighty-one-years-old and a bit of a curmudgeon. He is "imprisoned" (his words) in an assisted living facility from which he often escapes. His years on the battlefields of France, the death of his best friend and comrade-in-arms, and the loss of Julia are always much with him.
Patrick had promised to contact his friend's girl. Years pass before this happens. When they meet, they fall in love and engage in a brief and passionate affair. Eventually Patrick makes a fateful choice and Julia slips away.
Both books cover decades. Both encompass historical background. Both relate the power of love, the resilience of the human spirit and lasting remembrance. Absolutely two of my favorites and are listed on my pages and pages of "must reads" to suggest.
Recommended by Ruth Ann Johnson