The Lost Family is an extraordinary read, the kind of book that makes you sob and smile, the kind that gives you hope…. It is compassionate, masterful and disturbingly contemporary."—Tatiana de Rosnay, bestselling author of Sarah’s Key
The New York Times bestselling author of Those Who Save Us creates a vivid portrait of marriage, family, and the haunting grief of World War II in this emotionally charged, beautifully rendered story that spans a generation, from the 1960s to the 1980s.
In 1965 Manhattan, patrons flock to Masha’s to savor its brisket bourguignon and impeccable service and to admire its dashing owner and head chef Peter Rashkin. With his movie-star good looks and tragic past, Peter, a survivor of Auschwitz, is the most eligible bachelor in town. But Peter does not care for the parade of eligible women who come to the restaurant hoping to catch his eye. He has resigned himself to a solitary life. Running Masha’s consumes him, as does his terrible guilt over surviving the horrors of the Nazi death camp while his wife, Masha—the restaurant’s namesake—and two young daughters perished.
Then exquisitely beautiful June Bouquet, an up-and-coming young model, appears at the restaurant, piercing Peter’s guard. Though she is twenty years his junior, the two begin a passionate, whirlwind courtship. When June unexpectedly becomes pregnant, Peter proposes, believing that beginning a new family with the woman he loves will allow him to let go of the horror of the past. But over the next twenty years, the indelible sadness of those memories will overshadow Peter, June, and their daughter Elsbeth, transforming them in shocking, heartbreaking, and unexpected ways.
Jenna Blum artfully brings to the page a husband devastated by a grief he cannot name, a frustrated wife struggling to compete with a ghost she cannot banish, and a daughter sensitive to the pain of both her own family and another lost before she was born. Spanning three cinematic decades, The Lost Family is a charming, funny, and elegantly bittersweet study of the repercussions of loss and love.
Blum (Those Who Save Us) examines the second family of a Holocaust survivor his restless, ex-supermodel wife and their troubled teenage daughter in this crisp vision of how seemingly random choices test love, loyalty, and survival. Peter is haunted by his failure to save his wife and twin daughters from death in Nazi Germany. Years later, in 1965, he rises to success as a celebrated chef in New York City with the help of illegal funds from cousin Sol. June gives up her career as a model to marry Peter and later raise their only child, Elsbeth, but then begins to doubt her suburban life and the emotionally distant Peter amid the women's liberation movement in 1975. Elsbeth, though pampered and privileged, throws herself into the drug-fueled, punk-populated New York City art world in 1985 to find the recognition and love she craves, risking her life through starvation to be the muse of photographer Julian. Blum avoids the sap of happy endings and easy resolutions in this perfect encapsulation of the changing times and turbulence of mid- and late-20th-century America. Her story of a family struggling to tell the truth to one another and to themselves is bolstered by memorable characters, to whom readers will become attached.
Customer ReviewsSee All
The Lost Family is a bittersweet tale about love, loss, loneliness, and betrayal.
Peter Rashkin couldn’t forgive himself for making the mistake that ended up costing his wife and their three-year-old twin daughters their lives. He didn’t believe the ugly rumors about the Nazi’s, in time. When they started to carry out their atrocities against the Jewish, Peter knew that he should have moved his family sooner. He survived the death camps; his wife and children didn’t.
Peter Raskin had no interest in getting remarried. But, when June informed him that she was carrying his child, he married her. June felt as if she was constantly competing against the family he lost. Being married to Peter wasn’t easy. He spent long hours at work and was obsessed with his restaurant. June was lonely. She didn’t want to cheat on her husband. It just happened, and once it started, she couldn’t seem to stop herself. She knew that her husband loved her, in his own way, but just not enough to let her fully into his heart.
This is an emotional and heart-wrenching novel. Peter’s guilt and sadness not only overshadowed everything in his life; it also tore his family apart. The Lost Family is a poignant story well told.
Thank you, HarperCollins Publishing and Edelweiss, for my advanced review copy.