If Hollywood had written a screenplay of this story, you would enjoy it but chalk it up to a work of fiction. Leslie Maintland, the author, has actually written the true story of her mother Janine Gunsburger and her star-crossed lover Roland. Ms. Maintland did a lot of research to corroborate her mother’s stories and recollections of life in pre-war Europe, her Jewish family’s eventual escape to the United States via refugee camps in Cuba in 1942, her marriage to Len, an American-born Jew, and her eventual meeting with Roland 50 years later. I truly enjoyed this book.
No matter how much history one might read about Nazi atrocities, they can't be fully understood without the stories of individual families. Maitland, a journalist, gives us both in this story of her family's experience and the research on her mother's family's in-the-nick-of-time escape, and the pain of leaving her lover behind. I appreciated the family tree, which I referred to multiple times, as her parents' extended family was large, and she covers multiple generations, both in Europe and America. In some ways, this is a dysfunctional family, but given what they were up against with the Nazis, keeping secrets became a necessity. How does one learn when it's safe to stop? The stories of Germany's efforts at reconciliation after the war, however imperfect, are heartening. I appreciated how Maitland shows her love for both her parents, in spite of their weaknesses and the struggles in their marriage. A page turner, in the best sense.
Interesting story, but way too wordy - don't need to know, in detail, what everyone is wearing all the time.
The author calls this a ?contextualized memoir? in her notes. It?s a new term to me but aptly describes this well-paced account of her mother Janine, her German Jewish family?s escape from the Nazis and the poignant story of the young man named Roland, seemingly left behind, but the love of her mother?s life.
It?s quite a story. I had a hard time putting this book down.
Filled with lots of fascinating family history. The Cuban refugee camp was something new to me. It's really only in the last 50 pages that you find out what happened to Roland.
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