Publisher: Riverhead Books
Genre: Historical Fiction
A heart-breaking, heart-warming historical novel of love and survival inspired by real resistance workers during World War II Austria, and the mysterious love letter that connects generations of Jewish families. For readers of The Nightingale, Lilac Girls, and Sarah’s Key.
Kristoff is a young apprentice to a master Jewish stamp engraver. When his teacher disappears during Kristallnacht, Kristoff is forced to engrave stamps for the Germans, and simultaneously works alongside Elena, his beloved teacher’s fiery daughter, and with the Austrian resistance to send underground messages and forge papers. As he falls for Elena amidst the brutal chaos of war, Kristoff must find a way to save her, and himself.
Los Angeles, 1989.
Katie Nelson is going through a divorce and while cleaning out her house and life in the aftermath, she comes across the stamp collection of her father, who recently went into a nursing home. When an appraiser, Benjamin, discovers an unusual World War II-era Austrian stamp placed on an old love letter as he goes through her dad’s collection, Katie and Benjamin are sent on a journey together that will uncover a story of passion and tragedy spanning decades and continents, behind the just fallen Berlin Wall.
A beautiful, poignant and devastating novel, The Lost Letter shows the lasting power of love.
This beautiful story is told through dual perspectives and they flow together absolutely perfectly. Kristoff’s story is an heartbreaking tale of love, loss and perseverance and Katie’s had some parallel themes as well. The two narratives were separately engaging in their own way and I was truly enraptured by both stories. Kristoff lived in a time of despair and fear, but he still managed to cling to hope and love. Katie is experiencing her own tough time as she is in the process of divorcing her husband while dealing with the loss of her father’s mental faculties as he struggles with memory loss. Both were equally well drawn and I grew to care about them deeply by the end. These two separate tales merge in a way that was poignant and wonderfully romantic.
I was pleasantly surprised by how engrossed I became in Kristoff’s story, especially as he trained to become a stamp engraver. This is a topic that I know next to nothing about, but it’s oddly interesting and beautiful. It was mainly so compelling to learn about how secret messages were used in the stamps as part of the resistance to Nazi Germany, the resourcefulness is an inspiration.
Cantor has a really evocative, gorgeous writing style that truly swept me away. Being reminded of the power and beauty of good old fashioned letter writing was so touching, especially in today’s day and age of a technology hungry world. This was such a romantic, epic love story that truly touched my heart, I’ll be thinking of the characters for months to come. It would be an ideal pick for any book club as there are many thought provoking themes to discuss and ponder.
Overall rating: 5/5
Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.