The Holocaust is such a powerful and overwhelming subject that sometimes, it seems almost impossible to make it human and real.
Gwen Edelman’s new book, The Train To Warsaw, starts 40 years after the end of World War II. Jascha and Lilka met and fell in love in the Warsaw Ghetto. Escaping the ghetto separately, they reunite in London. Four decades after the war, Jascha has become a celebrated novelist. He has been invited back to Warsaw to give a reading of his book. While Lilka is eager to go and wants to relive her childhood, Jascha refuses, for he sees no reason to return.
Lilka wins and they travel in the middle of bitterly cold December back to Warsaw. Intertwined in their intimate conversations are the memories of their lives before and during the war, the family, friends and neighbors whose lives were taken and the Poles who were eager to work with the Nazis in reaching their goals. A secret is revealed towards the end of the novel, causing the characters to wonder if they can still trust each other.
I’ve read many Holocaust books, but this book is different. It is intimate and human. Instead of dealing the very daunting subject of the Holocaust as a whole, Ms. Edelman focuses on her two main characters who have different memories of their lives in Warsaw. Lilka and Jascha’s relationship feels normal and loving, despite the hardships they have endured.
I recommend this book.