A Novel about Parisian life in the 20th century, the occupation of France during World War II and a Jewish family with deep and tragic secrets – Anne Berest writes both from her true family experiences and fiction. This was a beautifully told story. Here is my book review The Post Card by Anne Berest.
A Mysterious postcard arrives in the mail with the usual holiday cards to the Berest Family home. The card has no return address or signature. Only the names of the four family members who were murdered at Auschwitz – Anne Berest’s maternal great-grandparents, Ephraïm and Emma, and their children, Noémie and Jacques. No one knows the meaning of the post card. Is it a threat or harassment in the increasingly xenophobic Europe? Or something else.
The author, on bedrest during her pregnancy, discusses the long-forgotten postcard with her mother. Her chain-smoking mother Lelia begins to weave the tale of the Rabinovitch family from the research she has done over the years as Anne spends the last few months of her pregnancy with her mother.
Six Years Later
Once again the postcard is put out of mind as Anne raises her daughter Clara and continues her career. Until Clara has a playground encounter where another child says “my family doesn’t like Jews.” She asks her grandmother “Are we Jewish?’.
Before Anne has a chance to talk to Clara about this incident she herself is questioned about her own “Jewishness” when she attends her first Seder dinner. At the dinner she is accused of being “Jewish when it’s convenient”.
These events will catapult Anne, with significant help from her Mother, into research about the post card’s sender, her family, the occupation and the death camps. With the result being a novel based on facts and imagined family conversations, activities and events.
First published in France and beautifully translated to English, I loved this family story that reads a bit like a detective story, a bit like an autobiography and a bit like historical romance. A work that will break your heart and give you hope. I hope you enjoyed my book review The Post Card by Anne Berest.
****Four stars for The Post Card by Anne Berest.
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See last week’s book review Snakes of St. Augustine by Ginger Pinhoster
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