This book starts off prior to World War II in the sparkling city of Prague. Lenka is from an upper class Jewish family, born amidst luxury and chooses to study art. When she meets Josef, the older brother of a classmate, the two fall in love and their story quickly takes a turn for the worst when the Nazi's gain power and this couple is forced into separation. While Lenka is at one of Eastern Europe's most brutal concentration camps, she must learn to survive when tomorrow is worst than the present day. Lenka finds joy in her art and an underground movement at the camp to preserve the art and literature of Jews tormented during the Holocaust. Decades later, a world and ocean away, Lenka glances at a man she does not recognize at first sight but luckily this is a man who never forgot her. This novel is an intense depiction of the horrors of the Holocaust, but more than that it is a story of love, and the will to survive in the face of such horror.
Best part of story, including ending:
I really liked this story because of the lyrical writing. There are also many beautiful descriptions of the world during this time period. I found the art and furniture truly ornate and characters in themselves. In addition, it is written with such restraint but manages to convey such deep emotions.
Best scene in story:
My favorite scene is Lenka's memory of her parents entertaining other members of their community in Prague. The description of the glass was magical. I loved the portrait this author painted and felt like I was there.
Opinion about the main character:
What I liked most about Lenka was that she was extremely strong for a young woman facing such atrocities. She had a big heart and was willing to sacrifice her happiness and well being for that of her family. It showed that although she grew up privileged she was so deeply moral and thoughtful. It made me take a look at my own life and how selfless it is possible to be. I truly admired Lenka.