The Postcard

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Modern Age

The Postcard
Author: Berest, Anne
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Time Period: Modern Age
Time Frame: 1918-2019
Geographic Area: Europe
Country: France
Topics: WWII,antisemitism, Holocaust Survivors
Genre: Fiction
Reading Age:Adult
Format: Novel
Published: 2023

World History > Modern Age > WWII > Jewish History

Winner of the Choix Goncourt Prize, Anne Berest’s The Postcard is a vivid portrait of twentieth-century Parisian intellectual and artistic life, an enthralling investigation into family secrets, and poignant tale of a Jewish family devastated by the Holocaust and partly restored through the power of storytelling.

January, 2003. Together with the usual holiday cards, an anonymous postcard is delivered to the Berest family home. On the front, a photo of the Opéra Garnier in Paris. On the back, the names of Anne Berest’s maternal great-grandparents, Ephraïm and Emma, and their children, Noémie and Jacques—all killed at Auschwitz.

Fifteen years after the postcard is delivered, Anne, the heroine of this novel, is moved to discover who sent it and why. Aided by her chain-smoking mother, family members, friends, associates, a private detective, a graphologist, and many others, she embarks on a journey to discover the fate of the Rabinovitch family: their flight from Russia following the revolution, their journey to Latvia, Palestine, and Paris. What emerges is a moving saga that shatters long-held certainties about Anne’s family, her country, and herself.

Emily's Review

This book was beautiful and such an important read. It's a story about a woman relentlessly tracing her family history after receiving a mysterious postcard in the mail. I've been trying to figure out how to classify this book. It is non-fiction but written like a novel. Is it a memoir? A family history? It's all of those things and more.

This book did something to me. It made me wonder about the family I lost in the war that I will never know. I don't even know their names. Who were they? What were their lives like? How could I ever find that out? Everyone who knew them is gone now. The way the author traced her family and learned what happened to them was fascinating to me.

There is so much here - it touches on the war years of course, but it explains what it was like to be a Jew in Europe in the decades before WWII. It explores how antisemitism was always there, festering, waiting for its moment. It explored generational trauma in a way I don't think I've ever seen done.

If you only ever read one book about the Holocaust, make it this one.

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