Title: The Light After the War
Author: Anita Abriel
Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance
Published On: February 4, 2020
Publisher: Atria Books
Synopsis: Inspired by an incredible true story of two Jewish friends who survived the Holocaust, this sweeping novel of love and friendship spans World War II from Budapest to Austria and the postwar years from Naples to Caracas, perfect for fans of The German Girl and We Were the Lucky Ones.
It is 1946 when Vera Frankel and her best friend Edith Ban arrive in Naples. Refugees from Hungary, they managed to escape from a train headed for Auschwitz and spent the rest of the war hiding on an Austrian farm. Now, the two young women must start new lives abroad. Armed with a letter of recommendation from an American officer, Vera finds work at the United States embassy where she falls in love with Captain Anton Wight.
But as Vera and Edith grapple with the aftermath of the war, so too does Anton, and when he suddenly disappears, Vera is forced to change course. Their quest for a better life takes Vera and Edith from Naples to Ellis Island to Caracas as they start careers, reunite with old friends, and rebuild their lives after terrible loss.
I’m always eager to read another historical fiction book about World War II–especially when it’s based on truth–even though the genre sometimes seems saturated. Apparently this book was inspired by the author’s own mother’s story, and I read the book hoping there would be an afterword where the author filled the reader in on the factual parts of the novel. However, I was disappointed to find there wasn’t any more information–at least not in the advance copy.
The Light After the War is about two life-long friends, Vera and Edith, who after having escaped a train heading for Auschwitz and hiding until the war is over, are now trying to put their lives back together without any of their family. The story is told from Vera’s point of view, and while the novel is mostly about their search for love, it also deals with some heavy subjects, especially when Vera’s memories of the war are revealed.
It’s because of those serious subjects, that I expected the story to go deeper. The dialogue sometimes felt stunted or dry, and the transitions were blunt. Sometimes the story moved from one thing to another so quickly I would have to reread the previous sentence to find out if I missed something. However, I still enjoyed it, highlighting several beautiful lines. I read it quickly, too, eager to find out what would happen. Several plot points seemed unrealistic, but it’s hard to make that call when I’m unaware of the parts of the story that were based on facts.
The best parts of the book were traveling to all the different locations with Vera and Edith on their search for contentment and peace. And while the ending was predictable, I didn’t mind it. I would recommend this one to readers who enjoy lighter historical fiction with themes of romance, travel, and friendship.
Thank you to the publisher, Atria Books, for providing me an advance copy through Netgalley.
Rating: (3 / 5)
Have you read The Light After the War? Or is it on your tbr? Let me know in the comments!