Polish Woman

Polish Woman

3.6 3
by Eva Mekler
     
 

The Polish Woman, set in New York and in Poland, is a gripping post-Holocaust story with a fresh, highly suspenseful mystery twist. An attractive 29-year-old Polish woman suddenly appears before a New York Jewish family in 1967, claiming to be the long-lost daughter of a recently deceased family member. He was a Holocaust survivor who had hidden a daughter with a… See more details below

Overview

The Polish Woman, set in New York and in Poland, is a gripping post-Holocaust story with a fresh, highly suspenseful mystery twist. An attractive 29-year-old Polish woman suddenly appears before a New York Jewish family in 1967, claiming to be the long-lost daughter of a recently deceased family member. He was a Holocaust survivor who had hidden a daughter with a Catholic farm family in Poland to try to save her from the Nazis. Is the woman who she claims to be, or a scam artist intent on inheriting the dead man's fortune, or something else? The search for the woman's true identity takes a young male member of the family across the ocean with her in a detective-story-like search to movingly peel back her past, like onion layers. This is a story that will entrance readers who relish suspense, drama, little explored aspects of the Holocaust, and the many threads of human character, from greed and fear to personal romantic attachment and motivation.

Editorial Reviews

Wall Street Journal
Luckily, the tale itself is compelling, combining romance and mystery and reminding us of the difficulty of unearthing personal truths when one of history's great cataclysms has buried them.

Publishers Weekly
In this unembellished he-said-she-said, Karolina Staszek, a Polish-Catholic sculptor working as a nanny in 1967 Manhattan, tells her Jewish employer, Noah Landau, that she may be his cousin-a cousin thought to have died decades before in a Nazi death camp. She throws his family into turmoil. Although Karolina's claim is based on the flimsiest of childhood memories, Noah believes the mysterious foreigner he's also infatuated with and sends her to persuade his cynical lawyer cousin, Philip. Is Karolina really the daughter of their recently deceased Uncle Jake, who hid her from the Nazis with rabidly anti-Semitic Polish farmers who took Jake's money only to disappear with Karolina after the war so they wouldn't have to return her? Or perhaps she's a charming fraud with designs on the nephews' sizable inheritance, or a pathetic soul who's appropriating someone else's wartime experience in order to repress her familial and national guilt over the Holocaust? The characters' motivations, particularly in their love lives, are often underdeveloped, but Mekler's (Sunrise Shows Late) emotionally tantalizing tale is simply and lucidly written and offers an unflinching look at Polish anti-Semitism and the destruction it wreaked on both Jewish and Polish psyches long after WWII. (Feb. 1) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
You are a Polish sculptress, Karolina Staszek, who comes to New York and does child care for a Jewish family. One day you notice a picture of their recently deceased uncle, and this triggers memories that he is possibly your father, who hid his daughter with a gentile family during World War II. Uncle Jake left a large estate, and the family suspects that you are merely a fortune hunter. Most skeptical of all is Jake's nephew Philip Landau, who stands to lose the inheritance if your story is true. Despite Philip's initial suspicions, he comes to believe you might be telling the truth, and the two of you travel to Poland to investigate your background. What you find out is a stunning denouement to a well-crafted mystery by Mekler (Sunrise Shows Late). This post-Holocaust story is narrated by both protagonists, adding depth and resonance to a gripping read. Not to be missed by anyone who loves a tale well told.-Edward Cone, New York Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Scam artist or Holocaust orphan? Deserving scorn or pity? A beguiling stranger unsettles a New York Jewish family in this haunting tale of the perils of trust . . . and mistrust. Her manner naive, her figure Rodin-lush, Polish sculptress Karolina Staszek surprises. Two cousins, against their wills, fall hard for her, and Mekler (Sunrise Shows Late, 1997, etc.) renders both their resistance and rapture convincing. Newly arrived in New York City in 1967, the comely cipher finds Manhattan part love-in, part freak-out. She sympathizes with Vietnam War protesters clubbed in the streets, takes as a lover the married director of the Polish-American Foundation and lands a job as nanny for the darling daughter of staid accountant Noah Landau. Endangering his marriage, he's smitten with Karolina, who hardly leads him on, but needs him to believe her story. And it's a stunner. Coming across a newspaper obit for Noah's Uncle Jake, Karolina becomes intuitively convinced that she's Jake's daughter, given up as a child to a Catholic family back in her homeland. Sheltered on their farm from Nazi invaders, she'd grown up clutching rosaries and a reflexive anti-Semitism. Noah's intrigued; his cousin, Philip, is suspect. For, isn't it obvious that this shiksa fraud is after their uncle's will? It's money, after all, that Philip's desperate for, to free him from his dead-end law practice. And yet, as her memories begin trickling back-the names of Jake's dead wife and daughter, telling details, insider clues-even Philip can't easily discount her. Then, after coaxing her into a trip back to Poland to research her claim, he finds himself strangely but seriously infatuated. As the family mystery is graduallyrevealed, Philip must contend with the ghosts of his own bigotry, nearly as fierce as the kind Karolina must herself overcome. A novel meditation on the ways we manufacture memory.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781882593996
Publisher:
Bridgeworks
Publication date:
12/28/2006
Pages:
264
Product dimensions:
6.25(w) x 9.74(h) x 1.02(d)

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