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Niagara on the Lake, Ontario, Canada
My virtue is that I say what I think, my vice that what I think doesn't amount to much.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Losing The Dead

Lisa Appignanesi's memoir is about a daughter's attempt to unravel the truth about her family's survival of the holocaust in Poland. It begins with their life in Montreal. As a young woman Lisa rejects the past and doesn't want to hear her parents' stories of their past but as she gets older she feels she has to know the truth about her family history. She cannot rely on her mother's fantastical memories or her father's evasion and visits Poland herself to search archives and see where her family lived. She needs to know how her Jewish family managed to survive outside the extermination camps during the war years. She wants to know the fate of her uncle, a high roller who saved the lives of many Jews. The family lived because they were able to pass themselves off as Aryans. Her beautiful blonde mother flirted her way through the war. Her dark haired father had a harder time of it. The author's relationship with her parents is complicated and she struggles to understand the roots of the situational terror that surfaces from time to time (after all they did not live through the horror of Auschwitz). We seldom see stories told from the point of view of Jews who lived outside the camps. This memoir is poignant and powerful and written with a wit that is totally engaging.

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