"In my old age, I have come to believe that love is not a noun but a verb."
The Lost Wife
by Alyson Richman
Finished reading..... July 30, 2014
Description: During the last moments of calm in prewar Prague, Lenka, a young art student, and Josef, who is studying medicine, fall in love. With the promise of a better future, they marry--only to have their dreams shattered by the imminent Nazi invasion. Like so many others, they are torn apart by the currents of war.
First Sentence: He dressed deliberately for the occasion, his suit pressed and his shoes shined.
My Thoughts: I devoured this book in one day....one day. That's huge for me since that happens rarely these days. This is a story that penetrates your thoughts and your soul. It makes you stop and weep for those who experienced the horrors of the Holocaust --- not only for those you died but for those who lived and needed to find the courage, the strength and the hope to continue life when insurmountable loss and grief was handed to them.
The Lost Wife was beautifully written and left me with a deep sense of sadness. Even amongst the sadness, hope never left and that's the beauty of this story. Every step of the way, love was felt throughout Lenka and Josef's individual narrations. From the first page to the last, I was held captive by their storytelling. Insights into their lives, the time they lived, and the choices they made kept my eyes glued to the pages.
Sadness penetrated the lives of Lenka and Joseph and even in depth of their despair it is that of love and hope which gave them strength. They each experienced hardships from living during the horrors of WWII; Josef and Lenka both experienced loss of family and starting over alone. Josef suffered and Lenka did as well. Who suffered more? The likely answer would be Lenka as she lived through the experience of concentration camps. But one could argue that Josef suffered equally albeit differently. His suffering and loss haunted him throughout life....the longing and need never left his side. Whereas Lenka seemed to move forward a tad better; she at least developed a healthier relationship - or so it seems. Those hardships never left their being. While they carved out new futures they each could not truly leave behind what was lost.
The last page read....the last word....I was struck by a sense of sadness. It sat with me for a time. I thought about the affect of this story upon my emotions. Yes, deep sadness was felt by Lenka and Josef, and their sadness and that of what people experience during the Holocaust did indeed affect my emotions. Yet, I also felt that love remained, and more importantly, hope. There are so many layers of love in this story; that of a spouse, children, family, friend, stranger. Love is woven deeply into this story. And that is what makes this story incredible beautiful; amongst the wreckage, despair, shattering loss and need to keep living --- there was always love and hope.
The bottom line: The Lost Wife is deeply heartfelt and beautifully written. While I left the book with much sadness, I also left with hope.
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Note Worthy Quotes:
“But in order to survive in this foreign world, I had to teach myself that love was very much like a painting. The negative space between people was just as important as the positive space we occupy. The air between our resting bodies, and the breath in our conversations, were all like the white of the canvas, and the rest our relationship- the laughter and the memories- were the brushstroke applied over time.”
"I often wonder if it's the curse of old age, to feel young in your heart while your body betrays you."