The Lost Wife
Berkley, Sep 6 2011, $15.00
In 1934 in Prague Lenka Maizel and medical student Josef Kohn fall in love. They marry as the German troops enter Prague. He pleads with her to leave the country but she refuses as she needs to be with her family. Josef manages to get to New York while his wife and in-laws are sent to the Terezin concentration camp.
In 1947 Josef the obstetrician meets Amalia from Vienna at the public library. Like him she is a war refugee who lost her family to the Nazis. Believing he is a widow they marry. However, Lenka survived the Nazis by thinking of her Josef waiting for her every day. After being freed by the allies, Lenka married twice and had one child. Thirty eight years of marriage ends for Josef when Amalia died but he knows his love lives for a ghost who died decades earlier. Several years later, Josef’s grandson is marrying another war refugee Lanie’s granddaughter.
This is a great historical thriller that focuses on the long term cost of WWII on the innocent. The story line rotates perspective over six decades between Lenka and Josef. The changes of life brought on by Nazis is harrowing as Jews lived in a wonderful Prague Spring only to either escape to America or sent to the camps. Alyson Richman makes a strong case that even Hitler cannot kill true love.