Lost Family
by Blum, Jenna

In 1965 Manhattan, chef and Auschwitz survivor Peter Rashkin is resigned to solitude and devotes himself to running his restaurant until he meets and marries June, but the horrors of his past soon overshadow him and his new family.

*Starred Review* Nazis came for them on a Saturday-the day Peter Raskin lost his wife, two little girls, and his freedom. Peter's nightmare of being rounded up haunts him even 40 years later. He can't talk about Auschwitz or his family, although he owns a successful Manhattan restaurant, Masha's, named after his lost wife, and he cooks obsessively, with a gleam in his eye. Eventually, he meets the lovely June Bouquet; they marry and have a child, Elsbeth, and life looks good. But the shadow of Peter's wartime experiences affects his new family in subtle ways, eroding the bond between them. In the three sections of this gripping novel, Blum, author of Those Who Save Us (2004), displays her keen eye for character with an intense focus on Peter, June, and Elsbeth over decades of silence, transferred emotions, and interactions with others. Blum dramatizes the lingering effects of the war through the intertwining stories of families past and present, personalizing the themes of survivor guilt and shame but also injecting surprising glimpses of humor and hope. Each unforgettable character in this deeply moving novel brings new meaning to the familiar phrase "never forget." Elie Wiesel's A Mad Desire to Dance (2009) and Michael Chabon's Moonglow (2016) also share similar themes, depth of character, and a sense of hope in the face of tragic loss. Copyright 2018 Booklist Reviews.

The devastation wrought by the Holocaust haunts a chef and his second family. Blum's (The Stormchasers, 2010, etc.) third novel is all about the occasionally dire consequences of seemingly innocuous choices. It has three sections, told successively from the third-person vantage point of New York chef Peter, his supermodel wife, June, and their teenage daughter, Elsbeth. Peter, a German-Jewish émigré and a survivor of Auschwitz, deeply regrets not having heeded warnings to get his parents, wife, and twin daughters out of Germany before it was too late. In the United States, he throws himself into running his restaurant, Masha's, named after his wife, who disappeared, along with their daughters, during a Nazi roundup. Although Masha's gains a modicum of acclaim (kudos from Craig Claiborne and regular patronage by Walter Cronkite), it ultimately falls victim to a clash between Peter and his wealthy cousin, Sol, his primary investor and only living relative. June, 19 ye ars Peter's junior, marries him on impulse and gives up her career, although her fame was approaching that of Twiggy. She grows frustrated trying to pierce Peter's adamantine reserve and rebels with "women's lib" consciousness-raising sessions and an affair with a Vietnam vet. She's on the verge of leaving the marriage when Peter suffers a heart attack and must give up work. Elsbeth deals with weight issues, bulimia, her constant comparison of her looks with her mother's, her father's sudden decline, and her infatuation with a roué photographer in the Mapplethorpe mold. One of the principal pleasures here is the accurate period window dressing of mid-1960s New York City, '70s New Jersey, and the '80s Manhattan punk world. The writing, evocative yet unassuming, conveys the interiority of the characters, even the minor ones, elevating them beyond the stereotypical. The emphasis here is on not on Nazi atrocities, which are only hinted at, but on surviving the banality of d o mineering relatives, bad marital choices, suburban mores, and body-image woes. An unsentimental, richly detailed study of loss and its legacy. Copyright Kirkus 2018 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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