The Lost Letter by Jillian Cantor

Thank you to Penguin Random House and their First to Read program for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

I’m not a big fan of historical fiction and if you go through my blog, you will see that I haven’t read very many books from this genre. I always feel a bit guilty about not widening my horizons so this time I chose a book that is not only part of the historical fiction genre but also the romance genre (which I also don’t delve into very much).

Austria, 1938.
Kristoff is a young apprentice to a master Jewish stamp engraver. However, when Kristallnacht occurs, Kristoff’s teacher disappears and it is up to Kristoff to deal with the Germans, who want him to engrave stamps for the Fuhrer and his army. With the help of his teacher’s fiery daughter, Elena, the stamps get made …. but for each stamp created for the Fuhrer comes another stamp for the Austrian resistance, along with forged papers to help Jewish Austrians escape. As Kristoff and Elena’s love for each other grows, they must find a way to keep each other safe before they get caught.

Los Angeles, 1989.
Katie Nelson is struggling with her life, as she goes through a divorce and deals with her father’s memory loss. As she cleans up her house, she comes across her father’s beloved stamp collection. When an appraiser, Benjamin, discovers an unusual World War II-era Austrian stamp placed on an old love letter, Katie finds herself intrigued. As she and Benjamin try to get to the bottom of this mystery, they are sent on a journey together that will uncover a story of passion and tragedy spanning decades and continents, behind the just fallen Berlin Wall.

This was a very well-written story and looked at a very different angle of the war than one I’ve previously read about. I’ve heard of Kristallnacht, of course, but this novel took an interesting perspective of it. Even though half of the story takes place during WWII, the emphasis was evenly divided between the relationship of Kristoff and Elena and the resistance effort. I also really liked the other narrative that was happening with Katie and her father’s stamp collection. I learned a lot about stamps and their significance that I was unaware of before this story, and that was a nice surprise. The romance aspect of this novel was really well done; it was believable and simple and touching. I quite enjoyed the read and got a bit emotional at the end, which is always a good sign. This is definitely a strong historical fiction novel with a well written romance angle!

Happy reading ~

The Imposter Bride by Nancy Richler

I picked this book up completely by chance, hoping that it would be worth my while. It did not disappoint.

The story is told in many parts and in many voices across generations. It starts off with Lily, who has taken a long journey to come to Montreal in order to get married. But when her fiancĂ© sees her, he immediately dismisses her. However, her fiance’s brother, Nathan, sees something in her that intrigues him and he decides to marry her instead. However, Lily is not who she says she is. She isn’t the daughter of a diamond cutter and her name isn’t Lily. Hiding this part of her, she lives a quiet life with Nathan, eventually giving birth to a daughter named Ruth. The story then skips forward to when Ruth is 6 and we learn that shortly after her birth, “Lily” disappeared entirely. As Ruth grows up, she wonders why her mother left, why she receives occasional gifts from her mother, and most importantly, who her mother truly is.

I love how the story is told in multiple voices. Hearing each character’s interpretation and feelings about an event gives it so much more depth. The shifting between times is effortlessly done and keeps the story vibrant. The best part about this book is that it allows you to interpret the characters yourself; all sides are shown and you can choose which light(s) you want to see them under. As for whether there is a happy ending, well, it depends on what you think a happy ending consists of. This novel is intricate and fascinating so do give it a chance!

Happy reading ~