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The Lost Wife by Alyson Richman

(Hachette, $27.99)

oany fiction writers today seem to be enamoured with the idea that everyone has one great love they’re destined to lose. It’s that special somebody who keeps you up at night, wondering and hoping; somebody who you dream about when you finally do fall asleep. While in real life, you might be set for a life of pain and regret, with fiction, writers have the power to right the wrongs of the past.

The Lost Wife starts at the wedding reception of a young couple in New York, where the grandfather of the groom, Josef Kohn, is introduced to the grandmother of the bride.

However, Josef is certain he has met the beautiful elderly woman with the icy-blue eyes before. In fact, he is sure she is his wife.

With a quick glance at the six numbers tattooed on her arm, Josef knows for certain – this is Lenka, the woman he left behind in Prague at the start of World War II after fleeing to the US to escape the Nazis.

From this startling beginning, the book jumps back in time to just before the start of the war. Teenaged Lenka falls for Josef, the handsome brother of one of her art school chums, and for a while their courtship is the stuff dreams are made of – stolen kisses, romantic walks in country meadows and a spontaneous proposal.

However, the nightmare of the war soon takes over. Lenka, Josef and their families try to leave the continent, and are forced to make a horrifying choice that will define the next 60 years of their lives.

With its graphic depiction of the atrocities of World War II, The Lost Wife is harrowing at times and may leave you with a bittersweet aftertaste.

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