Those Who Are Saved by Alexis Landau
Published: February 2021 – G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Finished copy courtesy of the publisher
As a Russian Jewish émigré to France, Vera’s wealth cannot protect her or her four-year-old-daughter, Lucie, once the Nazis occupy the country. After receiving notice that all foreigners must report to an internment camp, Vera has just a few hours to make an impossible choice: Does she subject Lucie to the horrid conditions of the camp, or does she put her into hiding with her beloved and trusted governess, safe until Vera can retrieve her? Believing the war will end soon, Vera chooses to leave Lucie in safety. She cannot know that she and her husband will have an opportunity to escape, to flee to America. She cannot know that Lucie’s governess will have fled with Lucie to family in rural France, too far to reach in time.
And so begins a heartbreaking journey and separation, a war and a continent apart. Vera’s marriage will falter under the surreal sun of California. Her ability to write–once her passion–will disappear. But Vera’s love for Lucie, her faith that her daughter lives, will only grow. As Vera’s determination to return to France and find Lucie crystalizes, she meets Sasha, a man on his own search for meaning. She is stronger with Sasha than she is alone. Together they will journey to Lucie. They will find her fate. (publisher)
My take: This novel about people fleeing to what they hope will be a safe place touched my soul. As a woman, a mother, a human being – I couldn’t imagine being faced with the decision of leaving my only child with her trusted governess.
It’s clear from the start that Vera and her husband are wealthy but that doesn’t protect them from the changes in their life in France. We follow their life in America where Vera meets a man who will soon mean a lot to her. He has ghosts in his past that he doesn’t quite understand. When things come together in that regard he is driven to learn more about his start in life while at the same time, help Vera.
It seemed the story was a series of impressions, scenes that moved the plot. That worked for me and I grew to appreciate the author’s evocative writing. This is the third novel of WWII I’ve read in 2021 and, although all very different from the other, I’m very glad I had the chance to read Those Who Are Saved. Recommended.