The Fortunate Ones

The Fortunate Ones

by Ellen Umansky

Overview: One very special work of artóa Chaim Soutine paintingówill connect the lives and fates of two different women, generations apart, in this enthralling and transporting debut novel that moves from World War II Vienna to contemporary Los Angeles.

It is 1939 in Vienna, and as the specter of war darkens Europe, Rose Zimmerís parents are desperate. Unable to get out of Austria, they manage to secure passage for their young daughter on a kindertransport, and send her to live with strangers in England. Six years later, the war finally over, a grief-stricken Rose attempts to build a life for herself. Alone in London, devastated, she cannot help but try to search out one piece of her childhood: the Chaim Soutine painting her mother had cherished.

Many years later, the painting finds its way to America. In modern-day Los Angeles, Lizzie Goldstein has returned home for her fatherís funeral. Newly single and unsure of her path, she also carries a burden of guilt that cannot be displaced. Years ago, as a teenager, Lizzie threw a party at her fatherís house with unexpected but far-reaching consequences. The Soutine painting that she loved and had provided lasting comfort to her after her own mother had died was stolen, and has never been recovered.

This painting will bring Lizzie and Rose together and ignite an unexpected friendship, eventually revealing long-held secrets that hold painful truths. Spanning decades and unfolding in crystalline, atmospheric prose, The Fortunate Ones is a haunting story of longing, devastation, and forgiveness, and a deep examination of the bonds and desires that map our private histories.

Faith Bowers (04/26/18): This books should be named The Bell Hop. The Bell Hop was a painting by Soutine that was purchased by a Viennese Jewish family before World War II. This is the story of the families who purchased the paintings. There were many parallels between the two families that I found interesting and worthy of discussion. The children of the Austrian family ended up on a Kindertransport to England and lost their parents in the Holocaust. The second family who purchased the Bell Hop lost their mother of cancer at the similar age and then their father early on in their adult lives. The character development was not the best because the story line and mystery of what happened to the Bell Hop was more important. Other parallels were raising children, recalcitrant teens, low deserve levels love and loss misplaced. I enjoyed this historical fiction and would recommend it for a book club.
Rating: ***

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