The Clothes on Their Backs

The Clothes on Their Backs

by Linda Grant

Judy Stanton (03/12/12): I've read about children of Holocaust survivors who grow up without knowing an extended family of grandparents, aunts and uncles and whose families live in fear of letting people know anything about them. In this book, Vivien Kovacs parents left Hungary in 1938 for England, where she was born and led a very sheltered, predictable, quiet life, with no family and few friends and no religion. Until one day, a brash, larger-than-life man knocks on their door, and the mystery of "an uncle" begins. Not until much later, when tragic circumstances leave her lonely and lost, does she pick up the trail of this supposed criminal, and what follows is nothing less than the unfolding of her family history. Sandor is an enigma, an ugly man who women adore; a lawbreaker who cares about justice; a person who has been terribly beaten but wants desperately to live. He is a character the reader grows to admire, despite his failings, and one who inspires Vivian to really "live." Author Linda Grant weaves in color, design, decor and, naturally (from the title) clothing, to bring an interesting perspective to a very readable story.
Rating: ****

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