Thank you NetGalley and Atria Books for allowing me to read and review The Light After The War by Anita Abriel. This book will be published on February 4, 2020.
This novel is based upon the true story of the author’s mother (Vera) and her best friend (Edith) who both manage to jump off the train carrying them and their Jewish mothers from Budapest to Auschwitz during World War II. While distraught about leaving their mothers on the train, the teenage girls survive by living in a barn in Austria in exchange for doing farm work for the owners. Believing that their families and loved ones were all killed in the war, they decide not to return to Budapest. Instead, these two beautiful 19-year-olds travel to Naples where they set out to rebuild their lives. Vera finds meaningful work and falls in love, but that has a disappointing end. Edith befriends an aspiring photographer, whose photo of the two women is published in Life Magazine. A wealthy American who sees the photograph decides to sponsor the two women in America. However, once they land at Ellis Island, things go astray. Next, they head to Caracas where Vera once again finds meaningful work and love. Edith starts a business as a fashion designer. Vera eventually ends up in Australia and Edith in California.
I classify this novel as more romance than a work of historical fiction. Other than some flashbacks about World War II, the book focuses on the two women’s personal lives. The themes of the novel are friendship, love, mother-daughter relationships, what makes a good marriage, independent women, trust, jealousy, and survival during and after a war. I liked the book but did not love it. 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 stars.