Berkley, $15.00, 344 pages
The Lost Wife is both historical fiction and romance. Alyson Richman sets her story in Prague during World War Two. Two Jewish students, Lenka and Josef, fall in love during a school holiday. Their honeymoon is blackened when the constraints of war force Josef to hide truths from his wife and Lenka to choose between her family and her husband.
The cruelty of war and fate separate the two for nearly a lifetime. Both Lenka and Josef are led to believe that the other has perished, Lenka in a concentration camp, and Josef as a civilian casualty. Both remarry and attempt to begin anew in America, but both are haunted by the war’s tragedies, and by the love they’ve lost. “I am now certain of one thing,” Lenka admits, “whatever belief I still had in God… is now completely gone.” It is only years later, when Lenka and Josef attend their grandchildren’s wedding, that history begins to rewrite itself, correcting a small piece of a momentous tragedy.
“I find that I am unable to cry. I am a machine. I exist on nothing but air.”
This novel is a must-read for those who enjoy a love story with substance, credulity, and skillful characterization. It is undoubtedly one of the best novels I have read this year.