Trudi Kanter is a vibrant, fun loving young woman who owned her own millinery business and was newly in love with Walter, a handsome Jewish man. Life was good for Trudi. Until Hitler invaded Austria in 1938.
Trudi realized very quickly that her background (her father was Jewish) created a very dangerous situation for her and for Walter, who was well-known by many (and the grandson of a rabbi). Walter is reluctant to leave, even as weekly commands regarding Jewish citizens slowly squeeze them of their livelihood, homes, and lives. Trudi desperately works to get herself and Walter out of Austria and into England, where they hope they'll be safe. Her parents are also on Trudi's mind, as she continues to look for ways to get them out of Austria, too.
This book is about Trudi's tenaciousness, boldness, and unending determination to save Walter and her parents. And even after leaving Austria, the story continues as they live in London during World War 2 and face discrimination and struggle to survive daily bombings and the suspicions of a nation.
Trudi first wrote her memoir in the 1980's. It was published, quickly forgotten and went out of print. Trudi died in 1992, the last of her family. And now her memoir is back in print, thanks to Ursula Doyle, an editor who discovered Trudi's memoir in a bookstore, read it, and carried it with her until she could finally republish it.
I absolutely loved Trudi. She's funny, fierce, bitchy, jealous, and so alive in these pages. She loves Walter so deeply it makes you sigh. And she shows that in spite of the beautiful hats and clothes, a woman's strength should never be underestimated. She's an admirable character. I wish I could have met her.
I read reviews about this book, and some people loved it and Trudi; others thought the writing was all over the place and Trudi was a petulant, bitchy woman. I completely disagree! I loved the writing--she wrote it as she remembered it, and the style reminds me of a journal. It's a quick read, yet Trudi's writing puts you in her apartment, hiding with Walter, as riots fill the streets. Her terror and fear at what is happening in Vienna are vivid and they will suck you into her life pretty quickly.
Read Trudi's story. It's a different take on the Jewish experience in Europe during World War 2. Here's a picture of her book as it appeared in hardcover:
Rating: 8/10 for a vividly alive Trudi and her ability to convey the terror of being Jewish in Austria in 1938.
Available in paperback and ebook.