07 August 2013

Review: The Lost Wife by Alyson Richman

The Lost Wife by Alyson Richman

Published: 6 September 2011 by Berkley

Pages: 352 (paperback)

Genre/s: Historical Fiction, Romance

Source: Own library


In pre-war Prague, the dreams of two young lovers are shattered when they are separated by the Nazi invasion. Then, decades later, thousands of miles away in New York, there's an inescapable glance of recognition between two strangers...

My Thoughts

Historical fiction was 'my genre' for more than ten years, and particularly books set during WWII were the ones that I gravitated towards most often.  There's something about the intensity and sadness of that era that makes for a riveting, emotional story, and The Lost Wife appealed to me so much because how much more sad can it be than a husband and wife who are seperated by war?

The Lost Wife is told in the dual POV's of Josef and Lenka, who meet through Josef's sister in pre-war Prague.  Their romance is short and passionate, and as war becomes more and more likely, they marry just a few short months after meeting and begin a new life together.  One thing that isn't made explicitly clear in the synopsis, and may be a small spoiler (beware!) is that both Josef and Lenka are Jewish - and of course this plays a huge part in their lengthy seperation.

Lenka's perspective focuses more on what happened to her and her family during the war, whereas Josef's narrative is mainly set decades later in New York, which worked fairly well, although it did feel like a small part of Josef's story, and a not insignificant part of Lenka's story weren't really given the detail that would have made this a more emotional read for me.

Their romance is almost a 'typical' war romance - they don't spend huge amounts of time together before falling in love and deciding to marry, but it fits with the story - just don't go into The Lost Wife expecting chapters and chapters of epic romance - there's simply no time for it.

Although I picked up The Lost Wife with a greater interest in seeing what happened to Lenka and Josef during the war, it was really Josef's experience after the war that grabbed me.  Richman explores some pretty deep themes within the pages of The Lost Wife, most significantly how people deal with grief - and how knowing, or not knowing, the fate of a person you love can have a permanent affect on other relationships and your own personality.

The ending was rather quick and open ended but it fits the book - the story is about Josef and Lenka's separation and the effect that it had on them, rather than their life together or what happened when they met decades later, so for me it was the perfect ending.

The Lost Wife is firmly romantic historical fiction in terms of the plot, but when it comes to the actual story, there is a lot more to be revealed about human nature and how events can shape who we are.  I can definitely recommend this for lovers of historical fiction, particularly ones set during wartime.


  1. This sounds like it would make the perfect Lifetime movie. Sounds like a beautiful yet sad story though. Great review!

  2. I have yet to read any WWI/WWII historical fiction novels. I think I'm a bit of a wuss because after watching Schindler's List and a few other WWII era movies, I just was never sure I could bring myself to become engrossed in the pages of a book about that era. But, this really does sound like a beautiful yet haunting novel and perhaps I'll take a chance and dive into this particular realm of fiction after all.

    Great review, as always, Kat!

    Wendy @ Escape Into Fiction

    1. They can be really intense and emotional, but this one was quite different from the normal, and not all of it is set during WWII so there's a bit of escaping from it :)

  3. I think this book would emotional wreck me. I used to be able to read books like this years ago but now I need HEA and rainbows.

    Maybe my reading will change again and I can get back to these kind of reads.

  4. I've been wanting to pick this up, and your review makes me want to even more. Will definitely need to make time for it soon!



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