Crossing the Borders of Time: A True Story of War, Exile, and Love Reclaimed

Crossing the Borders of Time: A True Story of War, Exile, and Love Reclaimed

4.4 32
by Leslie Maitland
     
 

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   On a pier in Marseille in 1942, with desperate refugees pressing to board one of the last ships to escape France before the Nazis choked off its ports, an 18-year-old German Jewish girl was pried from the arms of the Catholic Frenchman she loved and promised to marry.  As the Lipari carried Janine and her family to Casablanca on the

Overview

   On a pier in Marseille in 1942, with desperate refugees pressing to board one of the last ships to escape France before the Nazis choked off its ports, an 18-year-old German Jewish girl was pried from the arms of the Catholic Frenchman she loved and promised to marry.  As the Lipari carried Janine and her family to Casablanca on the first leg of a perilous journey to safety in Cuba, she would read through her tears the farewell letter that Roland had slipped in her pocket: “Whatever the length of our separation, our love will survive it, because it depends on us alone. I give you my vow that whatever the time we must wait, you will be my wife. Never forget, never doubt.” 
   Five years later – her fierce desire to reunite with Roland first obstructed by war and then, in secret, by her father and brother – Janine would build a new life in New York with a dynamic American husband.  That his obsession with Ayn Rand tormented their marriage was just one of the reasons she never ceased yearning to reclaim her lost love.  
   Investigative reporter Leslie Maitland grew up enthralled by her mother’s accounts of forbidden romance and harrowing flight from the Nazis. Her book is both a journalist’s vivid depiction of a world at war and a daughter’s pursuit of a haunting question: what had become of the handsome Frenchman whose picture her mother continued to treasure almost fifty years after they parted? It is a tale of memory that reporting made real and a story of undying love that crosses the borders of time.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In 1990, Maitland, a former New York Times reporter, went to Europe searching for her mother Janine’s long-lost love. Janine was born to a prosperous German-Jewish family, and she enjoyed a sense of belonging in Freiburg, her hometown until age 15 when the family fled the Nazis to Mulhouse, France, in 1938. There her parents granted her greater freedom, and she began a romance with a 19-year-old Catholic, Roland, only to flee the advancing Germans to Gray, France, and then to Lyon, where Janine bumped into Roland in 1941 and was again entranced. But forced to flee once more, the family finally arrived in America, where Janine embarked on a difficult marriage to a philanderer and rabid Ayn Rand acolyte. But Janine always pined for Roland, whose letters her father had intercepted and hid. While this book is overlong and Maitland fails to make Janine’s love affair and dysfunctional marriage compelling, Janine’s prewar life and wartime travails and Maitland’s descriptions of prewar European Jewish communities and their suffering under the Nazis are far more engrossing, This is a worthy testament to how war and displacement conspire against personal happiness. Photos. Agent: Rob Goldfarb, Ron Goldfarb & Associates. (Apr.)
From the Publisher
“One of those sweeping, epic, romantic novels that seems tailor-made for the Oscars and a long summer afternoon. Except it’s real! Leslie Maitland has the rare ability to bring history, adventure, and love alive.” —Bruce Feiler, New York Times best-selling author of Walking the Bible and Abraham

“How the small flame of an undying love can illuminate the darkness of a tragic era. This elegantly told story is for everyone." —James Carroll, New York Times best-selling author of Jerusalem, Jerusalem and Constantine’s Sword

“A mesmerizing memoir of one family's shattering experience during World War II. It's a tale at once heartbreaking and uplifting.” —Linda Fairstein, New York Times best-selling author of Silent Mercy

“Not only original social history of a high order, but one of the most poignant love-lost, love-found stories I have ever read, with an ending that Hollywood wouldn't dare.” —Robert MacNeil, Journalist-author

“Maitland is a brilliant reporter who knows what questions to ask and how to get her story. Written with the precision of a historian, the result is a work I could not put down and scarcely wanted to end.” —Michael Berenbaum, former director of the Holocaust Research Institute at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum

“A love affair thwarted by war, distance and a disapproving family became the defining story of Leslie Maitland’s mother's life, and by extension, her own. What happens next is surprising indeed.” —Cokie Roberts, NPR and ABC News analyst and author.

“A poignantly rendered, impeccably researched tale of a rupture healed by time.” —Kirkus Reviews

“This is a worthy testament to how war and displacement conspire against personal happiness.” —Publisher’s Weekly

“Maitland’s personal account of her family is a major contribution to history interlaced with a lovely love story.” –Arts and Leisure News

“This is a fascinating story of thwarted love, longing, and the travails of one woman and one family within the broader context of war and persecution. Maitland includes a treasury of old family photographs and documents to enhance this incredible story of the gauzy intersection of memory and fact.” –Vanessa Bush, Booklist (starred review)

“[Maitland] writes with a clear, candid journalist’s eye and manages to remove herself from the story, yet place herself into the narrative at the same time. [She] writes...with insight and honesty. She closes this noteworthy read with poetic understanding and gentleness.” –Jewish Book Council

Schindler’s List meets Casablanca in this tale of a daughter’s epic search for her mother’s prewar beau-50 years later.” –Good Housekeeping

“[A] gripping account of undying love-a tale of memory that reporting made real.” –Town & Country

“Crossing the Borders of Time is more beautiful than a novel because of the power of its true story and the richness with which it is told.” –Neal Gendler, The American Jewish World

“A gripping true-life tale of victims of Nazi persecution and one survivor's quest for her lost love.” –Shelf Awareness

“Sometimes the truth is not “stranger than fiction” but more compelling than fiction, and that’s the case here. Any reader who likes exciting World War II drama and a good love story will be drawn to this book. Well written and captivating, its story will stay with readers well after the book is finished.” –Library Journal

“An absorbing true account of romance, resilience, and survival during the years leading up to and during World War II, set against the backdrop of the Holocaust and the harrowing social history of mid-20th-century France.” –The Daily Beast

Crossing the Borders of Time will bewitch you. There is no fictionalized account of long-lost love that could be as compelling as this valentine to Leslie Maitland’s parents and the sad situations that threatened to ruin their moral compasses throughout their entire lives. Simply put, this is an unforgettable tale.” –Book Reporter

"Crossing the Borders of Time is a hair-raising tale of escape and survival, where crossing a border means everything. But sometimes, in this complicated world of loss, change and missed opportunities, it is just as amazing that love can make it across the biggest border of all: the border of time. Highly recommended." -American Girls Art Club in Paris

"The author makes fine use of her journalistic skills to conduct the search and to write about it, producing a narrative that is both informative and electrifying. History and the family saga combine in an informative and heart-warming tale that grips the reader's attention." -Indianapolis Jewish Post & Opinion

"This book gives a valuable window into how real people coped with war and also tells a compelling love story with modern twists. I highly recommend it." -Book Buzz

Kirkus Reviews
Love lost in Alsace during World War II, rediscovered 50 years later in New Jersey. A former New York Times journalist, Maitland has seized on her family's far-flung tale of fleeing the Nazis in Europe and energetically made it her own. Having grown up under her mother's heavy emotional baggage, the author came to share the sense of shame and sadness that her mother carried with her as an immigrant to the United States in 1943, a refugee of Nazi Germany. Maitland's mother Janine, along with her German-speaking parents, sister and brother, originally fled in 1938 from Freiburg, having lost everything they owned. From Mulhouse, France, where the teenagers hastily learned French, they moved to Gray, where the family eventually got transit papers to pass through to the Free Zone. The family then landed in Lyon, where Janine, now a young woman, reignited a friendship with a dashing Catholic law student, Roland Arcieri. After falling in love during their brief time together, Janine was yanked away again with her family—to Cuba and then America. Soon married to a successful salesman, Janine did not stop grieving for her first love, and Arcieri apparently tried to find her. However, Janine's father, who wanted her to have a fresh start in America, intercepted his letters. In 1989, Maitland organized a trip back to Freiberg and to Mulhouse with her family. Once her father died, she tracked down Arcieri, who was then living in Montreal. Though the details of the courtship are a little bizarre, especially since the author re-creates her mother's bold seduction of Arcieri, who was married, this is a touching story about the odd collision of fate and will. A poignantly rendered, impeccably researched tale of a rupture healed by time.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781590514979
Publisher:
Other Press, LLC
Publication date:
04/17/2012
Sold by:
Penguin Random House Publisher Services
Format:
NOOK Book
Sales rank:
133,164
File size:
11 MB
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This product may take a few minutes to download.

Read an Excerpt

During the fall that my father was dying, I went back to Europe and found myself seeking my mother’s lost love. I say I went back almost as if the world my mother had fled and the dream she abandoned had also been mine, because I had grown to share the myth of her life. Perhaps it is common for children whose parents survived the Nazi regime to identify with them, to assume a duty to make their lives better. As my mother’s handmaiden and avid disciple in an oral tradition, I felt possessed by a history never my own. Still, not as yoked as she was to life’s compromises, I would prove more prepared to retrace the past and use it to forge a new future for her. Time was running out on the present, and while my father grew weak in a lonely cave of silent bravado, it pained me to realize he would not even leave us the words that we needed. No deathbed regrets, explanations, or tears. An emotional bandit, he would soon slip away under shadow of night, wearing his boots and his mask.

When work as a journalist compelled me to leave New York for a week that October, I was anguished to lose precious time at Dad’s side. Yet how fast he would fade I failed to imagine. Nor could I foresee the course of my journey: that an impetuous detour to France from reporting in Germany would send me in search of Roland Arcieri—the man my mother had loved and lost and mourned all her life. Dreading my father’s imminent death and the void he would leave, I took a blind leap of faith into the past, dragging my mother behind me.

This is how one Sunday morning in 1990 I came to be visiting Mulhouse, a provincial French city just twelve miles from Germany’s Rhine River border. With cousins in town, I had visited Mulhouse twice years before. But on this crisp autumn day I was drawn toward a new destination: a fourteen-story, concrete and blue brick building whose boxy design represented what passed too often for modern in Europe. Although there was nothing about this unexceptional structure on a street densely shaded by chestnut trees to attract an American tourist, I instantly sensed that this was the place I needed to find. I stood at the spot—the X on a map to a treasure buried by time—torn
by contradictory feelings. I ran a very real risk of discovering something better left hidden, yet I could not understand or forgive my failure to look here before.

An ache of remorse for all the lost years mingled with nervous excitement. Just up the stairs, I would finally learn what I had always wanted to know. Who was Roland? Where was Roland? What had happened to him in the near fifty years since the cruelties of war had stolen the girl he wanted to marry? I yearned to find my mother’s grand passion. Love for the dark-eyed Frenchman, whose picture she always kept tucked in her wallet, continued to pulse in her memory, the heartbeat that kept her alive.

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
“One of those sweeping, epic, romantic novels that seems tailor-made for the Oscars and a long summer afternoon.  Except it’s real!  Leslie Maitland has the rare ability to bring history, adventure, and love alive.” —Bruce Feiler, New York Times best-selling author of Walking the Bible and Abraham

“How the small flame of an undying love can illuminate the darkness of a tragic era. This elegantly told story is for everyone." —James Carroll, New York Times best-selling author of Jerusalem, Jerusalem and Constantine’s Sword

“A mesmerizing memoir of one family's shattering experience during World War II.  It's a tale at once heartbreaking and uplifting.” —Linda Fairstein, New York Times best-selling author of Silent Mercy

“Not only original social history of a high order, but one of the most poignant love-lost, love-found stories I have ever read, with an ending that Hollywood wouldn't dare.” —Robert MacNeil, Journalist-author

“Maitland is a brilliant reporter who knows what questions to ask and how to get her story.  Written with the precision of a historian, the result is a work I could not put down and scarcely wanted to end.” —Michael Berenbaum, former director of the Holocaust Research Institute at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum

“A love affair thwarted by war, distance and a disapproving family became the defining story of Leslie Maitland’s mother's life, and by extension, her own.  What happens next is surprising indeed.” —Cokie Roberts, NPR and ABC News analyst and author.

“A poignantly rendered, impeccably researched tale of a rupture healed by time.” —Kirkus Reviews

“This is a worthy testament to how war and displacement conspire against personal happiness.” —Publisher’s Weekly

“Maitland’s personal account of  her family is a major contribution to history interlaced with a lovely love story.” –Arts and Leisure News

“This is a fascinating story of thwarted love, longing, and the travails of one woman and one family within the broader context of war and persecution. Maitland includes a treasury of old family photographs and documents to enhance this incredible story of the gauzy intersection of memory and fact.” –Vanessa Bush, Booklist

“[Maitland] writes with a clear, candid journalist’s eye and manages to remove herself from the story, yet place herself into the narrative at the same time. [She] writes...with insight and honesty. She closes this noteworthy read with poetic understanding and gentleness.” –Jewish Book Council
 
Schindler’s List meets Casablanca in this tale of a daughter’s epic search for her mother’s prewar beau-50 years later.” –Good Housekeeping

“[A] gripping account of undying love-a tale of memory that reporting made real.” –Town & Country

Crossing the Borders of Time is more beautiful than a novel because of the power of its true story and the richness with which it is told.” –Neal Gendler, The American Jewish World

“A gripping true-life tale of victims of Nazi persecution and one survivor's quest for her lost love.” –Shelf Awareness

“Sometimes the truth is not “stranger than fiction” but more compelling than fiction, and that’s the case here.  Any reader who likes exciting World War II drama and a good love story will be drawn to this book. Well written and captivating, its story will stay with readers well after the book is finished.” –Library Journal
 
“An absorbing true account of romance, resilience, and survival during the years leading up to and during World War II, set against the backdrop of the Holocaust and the harrowing social history of mid-20th-century France.” –The Daily Beast

Crossing the Borders of Time will bewitch you. There is no fictionalized account of long-lost love that could be as compelling as this valentine to Leslie Maitland’s parents and the sad situations that threatened to ruin their moral compasses throughout their entire lives. Simply put, this is an unforgettable tale.” –Book Reporter

"Crossing the Borders of Time is a hair-raising tale of escape and survival, where crossing a border means everything. But sometimes, in this complicated world of loss, change and missed opportunities, it is just as amazing that love can make it across the biggest border of all: the border of time. Highly recommended." -American Girls Art Club in Paris

"The author makes fine use of her journalistic skills to conduct the search and to write about it, producing a narrative that is both informative and electrifying. History and the family saga combine in an informative and heart-warming tale that grips the reader's attention." -Indianapolis Jewish Post & Opinion

Meet the Author

Leslie Maitland is an award-winning former New York Times investigative reporter and national correspondent who covered the Justice Department. She appears regularly on the Diane Rehm Show on NPR to discuss literature. She lives with her husband in Bethesda, Maryland.

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Crossing the Borders of Time: A True Story of War, Exile, and Love Reclaimed 4.4 out of 5 based on 1 ratings. 32 reviews.
Furtzmacher More than 1 year ago
The history is spot on. And more than most Holocaust era remembrances, this one weaves a narrative not just in the black and white of good and evil, but in the multi-hued texture of life in a world gone mad. The book ostensibly weaves an absolutely story of first love lost and re-found as it slipped from the protagonists grasp with Hitler's rise, occupation, deportation, emigration, immigration, and, eventually, love refound 60 years later on another continent. If it were a novel, it would be described as epic. But every word is true, so its best described as astonishing! The author brings a reporters sensibility to the facts, while bringing an almost cinematographic touch to the narrative. All-in-all, a great work of history, truth and narrative -- and I wouldn't be surprised if it gets optioned to Hollywood, too! Read it now, and get ahead of the curve!
Parsquire More than 1 year ago
This well researched biographical tale reads like a novel. It tells gripping the tale of the heroic escape of a young girl and her family from the Nazis in Germany and France and the ensuing 60 years in the context of lost love and the desire to find it again. I was heavily invested in the characters and felt like I knew them. I highly recommend the book and can't wait to see the movie!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Leslie Maitland is a prize winning journalist who writes the history of her family as they must leave their home in Freiberg, Germany during WWII. Their journey takes them to France, to Cuba and ultimately to the United States. It is so beautifully written and gives such insight to what happens to Jewish families, their friends and loved ones who do manage to escape the brutality of the Nazi's. This family lost their business, their home, and so much more. Maitland's mother Janine leaves behind the love of her life, Roland. She marries Maitland's father Len who has a story of his own, but never forgets Roland and shares her stories with Maitland. The investigative reporting of this story results in this beautiful book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
While the pages of information about the dislocation of the Jewish population is interesting, it is not new, and others have presented better and more scholarly accounts. The love affair, which is billed as the central story, is basically non-existent. Very disappointing and not as advertised.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I started to read this story because, as a first generation American descendant of German Jewish immigrants, there were many aspects of this story similar to that of my own family. However, I quit reading half way through because it got too mired in detail and history. I am not a history buff but I have always been drawn to stories about the holocaust because of my own background. My preference is stories that involve relationships and experiences and i thought this would focus much more on that. I just couldn't stick it through to get to the rest of the story. I found it redundant and difficult to read. However, it is an amazing an moving story about a tragic time, which is why I gave it 3 stars.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great history lesson and love story.
JFrances More than 1 year ago
Powerful. While retrospect gives us 20/20, while in the throws of the present, decisions and behavior are not black and white. Anyone who has been through anything significant empathizes with the couple in love and their unfortunate timing. While the love story is always primary, the author does a magnificent job of detailing the horrors of the holocaust.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I first read a condensed version and although it was good it did not do it justice the original version was much better. Very interesting book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I don't read love stories but this one laid me flat out reading non-stop for two days. I just could not put it down. Leslie Maitland has done a spectacular job of relaying her family history. It is amazing that more people do not talk about the war. I remember a neighbor when I was a child who was a GI and how he never talked about it...even then I wanted information that never came. The realities of the suffering that people went through should be revealed. There are terrible web sites today that insinuate that the Holocost never happened, that it is a Jewish plot! There are young people out there that believe that. I am shocked that anyone sane would seriously think that way and that is why more stories like this need to be told.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed the history details writen from a personal experience. As far as the love story, I thought the behavior was a little foolish. If Janine really loved Roland, she should have not let her family interfere. Once she decided on Len, she should have not discussed her other love. As to the later affair, 50 years later, while he is married, really stupid, going no where.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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StacieRosePittard More than 1 year ago
I truly enjoyed this story. I gained so much history on a subject I thought I already knew so much about (the holocaust), while also enjoying a heartfelt (true) love story. This book is professionally written, easy to follow, and very, very interesting. I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a book pack jammed with history, romance, and an interesting biography.
CathiMD More than 1 year ago
What a wonderful read!!! Well researched, hard to put down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Another great time-period read of love lost in WW II? Being a true story and seeing the pictures really made it more interesting.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is an amazing true story. Some might not like all the detail, but it's amazing to me that the family kept so much fo the documentation!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago