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The Lost Letter: A Novel by Jillian Cantor

The Lost Letter: A Novel (2017)

by Jillian Cantor

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A 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
  HandelmanLibraryTINR | Sep 20, 2017 |
Very interesting historical fiction. I enjoyed the story and the characters and thought it was well-written. I would definitely recommend this book. ( )
  flourgirl49 | Sep 6, 2017 |
Three words: beautiful, moving, and bittersweet. This book is a unique tale of the Austrian Resistance during World War II, centering around the love story between the daughter of a Jewish stamp maker and his apprentice. THE LOST LETTER is really historical fiction within historical fiction; the story alternates between the fall of the Berlin Wall (late 80s/early 90s) and the German invasion of Austria (late 1930s).

In 1989, Katie Nelson, whose life has been upended by her divorce and caring for an ailing father, finds a curious stamp on a letter from the World War II era in her father’s extensive stamp collection. With the help of an appraiser named Benjamin, Katie is able to uncover the story behind the mysterious letter.

I enjoyed this book very much, and was intrigued by both Katie and Benjamin in 1989, and Elena and Kristoff in 1939. What secrets did the stamp and letter hold? This book was a lovely blend of mystery, romance, and history. I do love vintage stamps, and this book gave readers a look at the intricacies of stamp engraving, and how they were miniature works of art. Highly recommended!

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book through Penguin’s First to Read Program in exchange for an honest review. ( )
  bookofsecrets | Jul 5, 2017 |
Thank you to Penguin First to Read for the opportunity to read this book in advance.

I'm giving this book a solid three stars, as I wasn't overly impressed/blown away by the writing style or the story, but nevertheless, The Lost Letter is readable and never came across as boring.

The stories alternate between late 1989-91 in LA and 1938-39 in Austria. Both focus on love connections which are obvious from the start, and especially in wartime Austria, detracted from the overall seriousness of the being-Jewish-in-Europe situation. Furthermore, the internal thoughts the characters had to themselves seemed very melodramatic to me. There was a lot of telling and not a lot of showing, which simplified the writing. This could easily have been read by a mature teenager and have the entire message of the book grasped and understood. To the author's credit, however, the conversations were realistic in the 1989-91 Los Angeles half of the story, though less so in German-occupied Austria.

Everything about this was very clean and each issue/problem that arises has a clean resolve that you don't have to wait too long for. Very spic and span, if you're into that. No real mystery here. I also didn't feel that I gained new knowledge about the World War II time period, nor the East/West Germany time period in the late 80s and early 90s. As I said, this is not a boring read, but it is in no way challenging. ( )
  tuf25995 | Jun 28, 2017 |
I liked this book, but it doesn't really stand out much for me among the historical fiction I've read. I was much more impressed with this author's earlier novel The Hours Count. In this book, the popular topic of World War II emerges in the form of an Jewish-Austrian stamp maker, his family, his apprentice, and a scheme to help Jews escape Nazi Germany - all of which comes to a head over fifty years later when a young woman in Los Angeles is trying to sell her father's stamp collection. I'd recommend this to fans of World War II-era fiction. ( )
  wagner.sarah35 | Jun 24, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 13 (next | show all)
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(The edelweiss) is an alpine plant...that is said to grow on the line of perpetual snow,---in fact under the snow...Only the boldest alpine goatherds and hunters venture to pick the hardy little plant from its native soil.  The possession of one is a proof of unusual daring. 
---Berthold Auerbach, in Edelweiss: A Story
For Grandma Bea and Grandpa Milt: I remember.
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She clutched the letters tightly in her hands, careful not to damage the stamps.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0399185674, Hardcover)

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.
Austria, 1938. 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.

(retrieved from Amazon Sat, 11 Feb 2017 21:58:07 -0500)

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