Historical Fiction

Book Review – The Lost Letter by Jillian Cantor

Goodreads Synopsis:

Austria, 1938.
Kristoff is a young apprentice to a master Jewish stamp engraver. When his teacher disappears during Kristallnacht, Kristoff is forced to engrave stamps for the Germans, and simultaneously works alongside Elena, his beloved teacher’s fiery daughter, and with the Austrian resistance to send underground messages and forge papers. As he falls for Elena amidst the brutal chaos of war, Kristoff must find a way to save her, and himself.

Los Angeles, 1989.
Katie Nelson is going through a divorce and while cleaning out her house and life in the aftermath, she comes across the stamp collection of her father, who recently went into a nursing home. When an appraiser, Benjamin, discovers an unusual World War II-era Austrian stamp placed on an old love letter as he goes through her dad’s collection, Katie and Benjamin are sent on a journey together that will uncover a story of passion and tragedy spanning decades and continents, behind the just fallen Berlin Wall.

My Opinion:

The Lost Letter had me hooked right from the first chapter.

Austria, 1939

All she had to do was make it into town, drop the letters at the post on Wien Allee. All she had to do was mail the letters, and everything was going to be all right.
That was a lie, too, of course. But she kept on walking through the snow.
At the edge of the woods, she reached the clearing, and through the swirl of snowflakes, the pink-blue onset of dawn, she could see the remaining red-roofed buildings in town, up ahead.
Wien Allee. She was almost there. The sudden cold butt of the gun against her temple surprised her. She didn’t even let out a cry before the man grabbed her arm, and the letters fell from her hands, onto the unblemished snow.

1989 Los Angeles – Katie Nelson is now the owner of her dad’s very large stamp collection. Her father Ted lives at the Willows, the best memory care facility in Los Angeles. She decides to take his stamp collection to a stamp dealer, Benjamin Grossman, in hope that there will be something of value in it for her father. He has always insisted that there is a gem in his collection, and Katie would love nothing more than to find that gem for her father.

1938 Austria – Frederick and Minna Faber have taken Kristoff in. They have given him room and board, and five shilling a week to be an apprentice to Frederick. Kristoff grew up an orphan in Vienna and is a very talented artist. He deeply admires Frederick’s work and wants deeply to learn his art, stamp engraving.

This book is told in alternating time periods. I found that this dual storyline works well for this book. The book does cover a couple of years, but starts in 1989 Los Angeles and is told from the perspective of Katie. The 1938 Austria time period is told from the perspective of Kristoff.

This book largely revolves around an unopened letter that has a most usual stamp on it. It’s discovery sets Katie and Benjamin on a mystery that will take them around the world and back. Together they are determined to uncover the mystery of the stamp, the person who made the stamp, and most importantly, return the unopened letter to its rightful owner.

I absolutely love when a book can shed light on a person, place, or thing that actually happened and build a fictional story around it. I really enjoyed the stamp theme that ran throughout this book. It brings up very fond memories I have of my Grandmother’s stamp collection that I have always been in awe of.

My Rating: 5/5

Genre: Historical Fiction

Series: None

Publisher: Riverhead Books

Publication Date: 6/13/2017

Pages: 322 (eBook)

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Happy Reading!

15 thoughts on “Book Review – The Lost Letter by Jillian Cantor

  1. Nice review! I took a pass on The Lost Letter, but may add it to my list of books to get to by the end of the year. I was initially put off by another book with two timelines. Sounds like it was well worth reading.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The alternating timelines in historical fiction seems to be the in thing. I’m trying to break them up a bit, so I don’t get burned out. Except this week I did do two back to back haha 🙂


  2. Excellent review! I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy, because it does sound like a fantastic read. And it doesn’t happen often a dual storyline works well…

    Liked by 1 person

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