I was excited to begin reading “Paper Love” by Sarah Wildman, published by Riverhead Books. I found the beginning of the book to be quite interesting and informative. The book deals with the time before, during and after World War II as lived by those who left Europe in fear of Hitler’s Nazis. The story gives a very clear picture of the lives of those who emigrated to the United States and how their live changed. It also deals with those loved ones who had to be left behind, either because of visa problems, or lack of funds, or other problems. The story is about Dr. Karl Wildman who fled Nazi-occupied Vienna in the late 1930’s. The author is the granddaughter of Dr. Wildman. She is trying to find out what happened to the girl he loved and left behind. Her search takes her many years, and to many places. While I enjoyed this novel, I also found it very dry reading. I did not feel connected to the person written about. Perhaps I’m just not non-fiction fan.
One woman’s journey to find the lost love her grandfather left behind when he fled pre-World War II Europe, and an exploration into family identity, myth, and memory.
Years after her grandfather’s death, journalist Sarah Wildman stumbled upon a cache of his letters in a file labeled ?Correspondence: Patients A?G.” What she found inside weren’t dry medical histories; instead what was written opened a path into the destroyed world that was her family’s prewar Vienna. One woman’s letters stood out: those from Valy?Valerie Scheftel. Her grandfather’s lover who had remained behind when he fled Europe six months after the Nazis annexed Austria.
Valy’s name wasn’t unknown to her?Wildman had once asked her grandmother about a dark-haired young woman whose images she found in an old photo album. ?She was your grandfather’s true love,” her grandmother said at the time, and refused any other questions. But now, with the help of the letters, Wildman started to piece together Valy’s story. They revealed a woman desparate to escape and clinging to the memory of a love that defined her years of freedom.
Obsessed with Valy’s story, Wildman began a quest that lasted years and spanned continents. She discovered, to her shock, an entire world of other people searching for the same woman. On in the course of discovering Valy’s ultimate fate, she was forced to reexamine the story of her grandfather’s triumphant escape and how this history fit within her own life and in the process, she rescues a life seemingly lost to history.