The Light after the War

Anita Abriel. Simon & Schuster, $27 (320p) ISBN 978-1-982-12297-3
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. Agent: Johanna Castillo, Writers House. (Feb.)
Reviewed on : 10/10/2019
Release date: 02/04/2020
Genre: Fiction
Book - 978-1-9821-2299-7
Downloadable Audio - 978-1-7971-0219-1
Compact Disc - 978-1-7971-0221-4
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