Inspired by the true story of one woman's extraordinary journey to forge a new life after escaping a train bound for Auschwitz.
In 1946 two young Hungarian refugees arrive in Naples after losing everyone they loved before the war. Vera Frankel and her best friend, Edith Ban, are haunted by their terrifying escape from a train headed for Auschwitz after their mothers threw them from the carriage, promising they would follow. But instead the girls find themselves alone in a frozen, alien land. They manage to find refuge and barter for their lives by working on an isolated farm in Austria until the end of the war.
Armed with a letter of recommendation from an American general, Vera finds work and new hope at the United States Embassy and, despite her best intentions, falls in love the handsome and enigmatic Captain Anton Wight. But when Anton suddenly disappears, Vera is forced to drastically change course. Their quest to rebuild their lives takes Vera and Edith from Naples to Ellis Island to Venezuela and finally Sydney as they carve out careers – and find love.
Heartbreakingly moving and compelling, The Light After the War is inspired by the true story of the author’s Holocaust survivor mother.
Praise for The Light After the War
‘You will be swept away by this fast-paced, heartbreaking and hopeful tale of friendship, family, second chances and the enduring power of love, based on the true story of the author’s mother in war-torn Europe.’ Kristin Harmel, bestselling author of The Room on Rue Amelie
‘A heartfelt and memorable tale of family, love, resilience and the triumph of human spirit.’ Pam Jenoff, bestselling author of The Lost Girls of Paris
'There is so much in The Light After the War that truly shines: Unforgettable love, family, faith—and the courageous resolve of two young women to mend their lives and seek new beginnings in a world tragically changed. Fans of historical fiction are sure to devour this tale of hope, reinvention and the power of friendship to heal the heart’s deepest wounds.' Roxanne Veletzos, author of The Girl They Left Behind
‘Heartbreakingly moving and compelling … a testament to the power of humanity, to those people who even after unspeakable horrors and loss, still believe in the beauty and wonder of love, hope and friendship.’ Better Reading
Abriel's muddled debut, based on her mother's life, centers on two Jewish-Hungarian refugees as they make their way across the world during and after WWII. Best friends Vera Frankel and Edith Ban miraculously escape a train taking them to Auschwitz in 1944. After hiding on an Austrian farm to see out the war, the girls arrive in Naples, Italy, in 1947 and attempt to find work. Vera is hired as a secretary for dashing American officer Anton Wight, who she instantly falls for, though she tries hide her feelings. When Anton disappears, Vera and Edith decide to leave Italy and begin anew once again. They are turned away at Ellis Island, but find refuge in Caracas, Venezuela, where Vera works as a copy editor and Edith chases her dream of becoming a fashion designer. Vera is soon romanced by successful but volatile businessman Ricardo Albee, but she finds it difficult to move on from her love for Anton and her traumatic past. The backdrop of 1940s Naples and Caracas is refreshing if inconsistently researched (including an improbable trip to Venezuela's Angel Falls), and the characters' wartime experiences and their search for a place to carve out a new home give the plot poignancy. Yet the novel as a whole is disappointingly flat: Vera's insights are often pat, and most characters' motivations remain inscrutable. Despite a promising premise, this underdeveloped tale fails to live up to its potential.