We outlet online sale Were the Lucky Ones: outlet sale A Novel sale

We outlet online sale Were the Lucky Ones: outlet sale A Novel sale

We outlet online sale Were the Lucky Ones: outlet sale A Novel sale

Book may have a heavy amount of writing, highlighting, or cover damage. Shipped fast and reliably from Amazon!
See more
Sold by -OnTimeBooks- and fulfilled by Amazon.
[{"displayPrice":"$9.46","priceAmount":9.46,"currencySymbol":"$","integerValue":"9","decimalSeparator":".","fractionalValue":"46","symbolPosition":"left","hasSpace":false,"showFractionalPartIfEmpty":true,"offerListingId":"w2UBtFjze5c0GUHTf3uC4Tb2HIKZjTowWns6w%2FsrGQPcoXtNp16VZAWv9qGXYK7OM44cGEvWb%2BKuiBTSSHMa2KHmPQ%2Bj2kgyChPZ%2BAGUUaDl%2FeNC3ki472Vbc5XJAoMYwjS03QHTOivzr4Mm7jxXQA%3D%3D","locale":"en-US","buyingOptionType":"NEW"},{"displayPrice":"$7.88","priceAmount":7.88,"currencySymbol":"$","integerValue":"7","decimalSeparator":".","fractionalValue":"88","symbolPosition":"left","hasSpace":false,"showFractionalPartIfEmpty":true,"offerListingId":"w3xfKzPxij8C6VxvsuKLr0zxZaKthC0LB%2BecUTY57pXSL7%2BxAvUTdV7VHa22Kbx%2B33b50qW7Y0mnabiLHglUDxFKHJwSefTor4XK9scvCZa2Aq5bBScQJrmfkoBPmAZcGdE1xfowV5n8F5c1XWc1Kd3uDdPbvpVrNmMlQeHgnVKziAOZ8c1zTbR96hmKkZI5","locale":"en-US","buyingOptionType":"USED"}]
$$9.46 () Includes selected options. Includes initial monthly payment and selected options. Details
Price
Subtotal
$$9.46
Subtotal
Initial payment breakdown
Shipping cost, delivery date, and order total (including tax) shown at checkout.
ADD TO LIST
Available at a lower price from other sellers that may not offer free Prime shipping.
SELL ON AMAZON
Share this product with friends
Text Message
WhatsApp
Copy
press and hold to copy
Email
Facebook
Twitter
Pinterest
Loading your book clubs
There was a problem loading your book clubs. Please try again.
Not in a club? Learn more
Join or create book clubs
Choose books together
Track your books
Bring your club to Amazon Book Clubs, start a new book club and invite your friends to join, or find a club that’s right for you for free. Explore Amazon Book Clubs
Brief content visible, double tap to read full content.
Full content visible, double tap to read brief content.
Hear something amazing
Discover audiobooks, podcasts, originals, wellness and more.
Brief content visible, double tap to read full content.
Full content visible, double tap to read brief content.

Frequently bought together

+
+
Choose items to buy together.
Buy all three: $26.32
$9.46
$6.88
$9.98
Total price:
To see our price, add these items to your cart.
Brief content visible, double tap to read full content.
Full content visible, double tap to read brief content.

Book details

Brief content visible, double tap to read full content.
Full content visible, double tap to read brief content.

From the Publisher

We Were the Lucky Ones




Description

Product Description

The New York Times bestseller with more than 1 million copies sold worldwide

Inspired by the incredible true story of one Jewish family separated at the start of World War II, determined to survive—and to reunite—We Were the Lucky Ones is a tribute to the triumph of hope and love against all odds. 

 
“Love in the face of global adversity? It couldn''t be more timely.” —Glamour
 
It is the spring of 1939 and three generations of the Kurc family are doing their best to live normal lives, even as the shadow of war grows closer. The talk around the family Seder table is of new babies and budding romance, not of the increasing hardships threatening Jews in their hometown of Radom, Poland. But soon the horrors overtaking Europe will become inescapable and the Kurcs will be flung to the far corners of the world, each desperately trying to navigate his or her own path to safety.
 
As one sibling is forced into exile, another attempts to flee the continent, while others struggle to escape certain death, either by working grueling hours on empty stomachs in the factories of the ghetto or by hiding as gentiles in plain sight. Driven by an unwavering will to survive and by the fear that they may never see one another again, the Kurcs must rely on hope, ingenuity, and inner strength to persevere.
 
An extraordinary, propulsive novel, We Were the Lucky Ones demonstrates how in the face of the twentieth century’s darkest moment, the human spirit can endure and even thrive.

Review

“[Georgia Hunter is] just as courageous as the characters her writing will never let us forget.” — Harper’s Bazaar

“Love in the face of global adversity? It couldn''t be more timely.” — Glamour, “Best Books to Read in 2017”

“[A] gripping, emotional novel.” — People , “The Best New Books”

“A remarkable story of courage, love, and of course, luck.” — Book Riot’s Best Books of 2017

“[A] gripping and moving story.” — Bustle, “15 New Authors You’re Going To Be Obsessed With This Year”

“Turning history into fiction can be tricky . . . Hunter finesses the challenge. Her novel brings the Kurcs to life in heart-pounding detail.” — The Jewish Voice

“The story that so grippingly comes across in the pages of We Were the Lucky Ones isn''t strictly fiction—the characters and events that inhabit this Holocaust survival story are based on her family''s own history.” — Newsweek

“[A] must-read.” — New York Post

“[A] remarkable history . . . Hunter sidesteps hollow sentimentality and nihilism, revealing instead the beautiful complexity and ambiguity of life in this extraordinarily moving tale.” — Publishers Weekly

A Finalist for the National Jewish Book Awards’ Book Club Award

A Women’s National Book Association Great Group Read

“Reading Georgia Hunter’s We Were the Lucky Ones is like being swung heart first into history. Her engrossing and deeply affecting account . . . will leave you breathless. But the true wonder of the book is how convincingly Hunter inhabits these characters, each modeled after her own family members. This is their story Hunter is telling so beautifully and profoundly, and ours as well. A brave and mesmerizing debut, and a truly tremendous accomplishment.” — Paula McLain, author of The Paris Wife and Circling the Sun

We Were the Lucky Ones is the most gripping novel I''ve read in years. Georgia Hunter pulled me into another world, vivid, horrifying, astonishing, and heartbreaking.” — Lauren Belfer, New York Times bestselling author of And After the Fire, A Fierce Radiance, and City of Light.

We Were the Lucky Ones is a skillfully woven reimagining of [Hunter’s] own family’s struggle for survival during World War II . . . with spectacular historical detail. This emotionally resonant, gripping portrait of the war is filled with beautifully drawn and wonderfully heroic characters I won’t soon forget.” — Jillian Cantor, author of  Margot and  The Hours Count

“Georgia Hunter has crafted her own family history into a sprawling, yet still intimate portrait of those swept up in the devastation of war and scattered to the winds.  It is an astonishing saga of hope, of luck, of destruction, and most remarkably of love, made all the more astonishing because of the true story at its core.” — David R. Gillham, New York Times bestselling author of City of Women

“Elegantly executed and always clear, Hunter evokes pre-war Poland with loving detail, clearly showing what was left behind and lost. . . . We Were the Lucky Ones is a compelling read, notable for Hunter’s clear portraits of her plucky, resilient family, and for her ability to build suspense and investment without emotional manipulation.” — Courtney Naliboff, ReformJudaism

About the Author

When  Georgia Hunter was fifteen years old, she learned that she came from a family of Holocaust survivors.  We Were the Lucky Ones was born of her quest to uncover her family’s staggering history. Hunter’s website, georgiahunterauthor.com, offers a behind-the-scenes glimpse at the extensive research this project has entailed. She lives in Connecticut.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Jakob and Bella

Lvov, Soviet-Occupied Poland ~ October 24, 1939


Bella steps carefully so as not to clip the backs of Anna’s heels. The sisters move slowly, deliberately, talking in whispers. It’s nine in the evening, and the streets are empty. There isn’t a curfew in Lvov as there is in Radom, but the blackout is still in effect, and with the street lamps extinguished, it’s nearly impossible to see.
 
“I can’t believe we didn’t bring a flashlight,” Bella whispers.
 
“I walked the route earlier today,” Anna says. “Just stay close, I know where I’m going.”
 
Bella smiles. Slinking through backstreets in the pale blue light of the moon reminds her of the nights she and Jakob used to tiptoe at two in the morning from their apartments to make love in the park under the chestnut trees.

“It’s just here,” Anna whispers.

They climb a small flight of stairs, entering the house through a side door. Inside, it’s even darker than it is on the street.

“Stay here for a moment while I light a match,” Anna says, rummaging through her handbag.

“Yes, ma’am,” Bella says, laughing. All her life it’s been she who bosses Anna about, not the other way around. Anna is the baby, the family’s sweetheart. But Bella knows that behind the pretty face and quiet façade, her sister is whip smart, capable of anything she sets her mind to.

Despite being two years younger, Anna was the first to marry. She and her husband, Daniel, live just down the street from Bella and Jakob in Lvov—a reality that has softened Bella’s pain at leaving her parents behind. The sisters see each other often and talk frequently about how to convince their parents to make the move to Lvov. But in her letters, Gustava insists that she and Henry are getting by on their own in Radom. Your father’s dentistry is still bringing a bit of income, she wrote in her last correspondence. He’s been treating the Germans. It doesn’t make sense for us to move, not yet at least. Just promise to visit when you can, and to write often.

“How on earth did you find this place?” Bella asks. She’d been given no address, just told to follow. They’d snaked through so many narrow back alleys on their way, she’d lost her sense of direction.

“Adam found it,” Anna says, striking a match over and over without a spark. “Through the Underground,” she adds. “Apparently they’ve used it before, as a sort of safe house. It’s abandoned, so we shouldn’t have any surprise visitors.”  

Finally, a match  takes, emitting a cloud of sharp-smelling sulphur and an amber halo of light.

“Adam said he left a candle by the faucet,” she mutters, shuffling toward the sink, a hand cupped over the flame. Adam had found the rabbi, too, which Bella knew was no easy task. When Lvov fell, the Soviets stripped the city’s rabbis of their titles and banned them from practicing; those who were unable to find new jobs went into hiding. Yoffe was the only rabbi Adam could find, he said, who wasn’t afraid to officiate a marriage ceremony, under the condition that the wedding take place in secrecy.

In the match’s faint glow, the room begins to take shape. Bella looks around, at the shadow of a kettle resting on a stove top, a bowl of wooden spoons silhouetted on the counter, a blackout curtain hanging in a window over the sink. Whoever lived here left in a hurry, it seems. “It’s incredibly kind of Adam to do this for us,” Bella says, more to herself than to her sister. She’d met Adam a year ago, when he leased a room in the Kurcs’ apartment. Mostly she knew him as Halina’s boyfriend, calm and cool and rather quiet—oftentimes his voice was barely heard around the dinner table. But since arriving in Lvov, Adam has surprised Bella with his ability to orchestrate the impossible: handcrafting false identification cards for the family. As far as the Russians know, Adam works at an orchard outside the city, harvesting apples—but in the Underground, Adam has become a prized counterfeiter. By now, hundreds of Jews have pocketed his IDs, which he produces with such a meticulous hand, Bella would swear they are real.
 
She’d asked him once how he was able to make them look so authentic.

“They are authentic.  The stamps, at least,” he’d said, explaining how he’d discovered that he could remove official government stamps from existing IDs with a peeled, just-boiled egg. “I lift the original when the egg is still hot,” Adam said, “then roll the egg over the new ID. Don’t ask
why, but it works.”

“Found it!” Darkness envelops them once again as Anna fumbles for another match. A moment later, the candle is lit.

Bella removes her coat, lays it over the back of a chair.

“Cold  in here,”  Anna whispers. “Sorry.” Carrying the candle, she makes her way from the sink to stand beside Bella.

“It’s  okay.”  Bella suppresses a shiver. “Is  Jakob already here? And Genek? Herta? It’s so quiet.”

“Everyone’s here. Getting settled in the foyer, I imagine.”

“So I’m not to be married in the kitchen?” Bella laughs and then sighs, realizing that for as many times as she’d told herself she’d marry Jakob anywhere, the idea of wedding him here, in the shadowy, ghostlike home of a family she’ll never know, was beginning to make her feel uneasy.

“Please. You’ve far too much class for a kitchen wedding.”

Bella smiles. “I didn’t think I’d be nervous.”

“It’s your wedding day—of course you’re nervous!”

The words reverberate through her and Bella goes still. “I wish Mother and Father could be here,” she says finally, and as she hears herself, her eyes well up with tears. She and Jakob had talked about waiting until the war was over to marry, so they could hold a more traditional ceremony in Radom with their families. But there was no telling when the war would end. They’d waited long enough, they decided. The Tatars and the Kurcs had both given their blessings from Radom. They’d practically begged Jakob and Bella to marry. Still, Bella hates that her parents can’t be with her—hates that, despite how happy she is now that she’s with Jakob, she’s also guilty for it. Is it right, she wonders, to celebrate while her country is at war? While her parents are alone in Radom—her parents, who, for all of her life, have given her so much when they had so little? Bella’s memory flashes to the day when she and Anna returned home from school to find their father in the living room with a scruffy-looking dog at his feet. The pup was a gift, their father told them, from one of his patients who had fallen on hard times and was unable to pay to have a tooth extracted. Bella and Anna, who had begged for a dog since they were toddlers, had shrieked with joy and rushed to hug their father, who wrapped his arms around them, laughing as the dog nipped playfully at their ankles.

Anna squeezes her hand. “I know,” she says, “I wish they could be here, too. But they want this so badly for you. You mustn’t worry about them. Not tonight.”

Bella nods. “It’s just so far from what I imagined,” she whispers.

“I know,” Anna says again, her voice soft.

When they were teenagers, Bella and Anna would lie in bed and talk for hours, spinning stories of their wedding days. At the time, Bella could see it perfectly: the sweet-smelling bouquet of white roses her mother would arrange for her to carry; the smile on her father’s face as he lifted her veil to kiss her forehead beneath the chuppah; the thrill of slipping a ring over Jakob’s index finger, a symbol of their love that he would carry with him for the remainder of his lifetime. Her wedding, had it been in Radom, would have been far from lavish, this she knows. It would have been simple. Beautiful. What it would not have been was a secret ceremony, held in the cold carcass of an abandoned, blacked-out house 500 kilometers from her parents. But, Bella reminds herself, she’d chosen to come to Lvov, after all. She and Jakob had decided together to marry here. Her sister is right; her parents have wanted this for her for years. She should focus on what she has, not what she doesn’t—on this night, especially.

“No one could have predicted this,” Anna adds. “But just think,” she says, her voice growing more chipper, “the next time you see Mama i Tata, you will be a married woman! Hard to believe, isn’t it?”

Bella smiles, willing away her tears. “It is, in a way,” she whispers, thinking about her father’s letter, which had arrived two days ago. In it, Henry described how overjoyed he and Gustava were upon learning of her intent to marry. We love you so much, dear Bella. Your Jakob is a good soul, that boy, with a fine family. We will celebrate, all of us, when we are together again. Rather than show the letter to Jakob right away, Bella had slipped it under her pillow and decided she’d let him read it later that evening, once they’d returned to their apartment, a married couple.

Sucking in her stomach, Bella runs her hands along the lace bodice of her dress. “I’m so happy it fits,” she says, exhaling. “It’s just as beautiful as I remember it.”

When Anna became engaged to Daniel, their mother, knowing that they couldn’t afford the kind of dress Anna would want from a dressmaker, decided to make a gown herself. She, Bella, and Anna had scoured the pages of McCall’s and Harper’s Bazaar for the designs they liked. When Anna finally picked her favorite—inspired by film stills of Barbara Stanwyck—the Tatar women spent an entire afternoon at Nechuma’s fabric shop, poring over bolts of various satins, silks, and laces, marveling over how luxurious each felt as they rubbed it between their fingers. Nechuma gave them the materials they finally selected at cost, and it took Gustava nearly a month to finish the gown—a V-neck, with a white lace-trimmed bodice, long gathered Gibson sleeves, buttons down the back, a bell-shaped skirt that fell just to the floor, and a powder-white satin sash gathered at her hips. Delighted, Anna deemed it a masterpiece. Bella had secretly hoped she’d get to wear it someday.

“I’m just happy I brought it,” Anna says. “I almost left it with Mother, but I couldn’t bear to part with it. Oh, Bella.” Anna stands back to take her in. “You look so beautiful! Come,” she says, adjusting the gold brooch hanging around Bella’s neck so it sits perfectly centered in the hollow between her collarbones, “before I cry. Are you ready?”

“Almost.” Bella fishes a metal tube from her coat pocket. She removes the lid, then swivels the bottom a half turn and applies a few dabs of Peppercorn Red lipstick carefully to her lips, wishing she had a mirror. “I’m glad you brought this, too,” she says, rubbing her lips together before dropping the tube back into her pocket. “And that you were willing to share,” she adds. When lipstick was pulled from the market—the army had better use for petroleum and castor oil—most women they knew clung fiercely to what was left of their supplies.

“Of course,” Anna says. “So—gotowa?

“Ready.”

Carrying the candle in one hand, Anna guides Bella gently through a doorway.

The foyer is dimly illuminated by two small votives propped on the staircase balusters. Jakob stands at the foot of the stairs. At first, all Bella can make out of him is his silhouette—his narrow torso, the gentle slope of his shoulders.

“We’ll save this one for later,” Anna says, snuffing out her candle. She kisses Bella on the cheek. “I love you,” she says, beaming, and then makes her way to greet the others. Bella can’t see them, but she can hear whispers: Och, jaka pie, kna! Beautiful!

A second silhouette stands motionless beside her groom, the candlelight catching the frizz of a long, silver beard. It must be the rabbi, Bella realizes. She steps into the flickering glow of the votives, and as she slides her elbow through Jakob’s, she feels the tightness between her ribs disappear. She isn’t nervous anymore, or cold. She’s floating.

Jakob’s eyes are wet when they meet hers. In her sister’s ivory kitten heels, she’s nearly as tall as he. He plants a kiss on her cheek.

“Hello, sunshine,” he says, smiling.

“Hi,” Bella replies, grinning. One of the onlookers chuckles.

The rabbi extends a hand. His face is a maze of wrinkles. He must be in his eighties, Bella guesses. “I am Rabbi Yoffe,” he says. His voice, like his beard, is rough around the edges.

“Pleasure,” Bella says, taking his hand and dipping her chin. His fingers feel frail and knotted between hers, like a cluster of twigs. “Thank you for this,” she says, knowing what a risk he’d taken to be there.

Yoffe clears his throat. “Well. Shall we get started?” Jakob and Bella nod.

Yacub,” Yoffe begins, “repeat after me.”
 
Jakob does his best not to bungle Rabbi Yoffe’s words, but it’s difficult, partly because his Hebrew is rudimentary, but mostly because he’s too distracted by his bride to keep a thought in his mind for more than a few seconds. She is spectacular in her gown. But it’s not the dress he’s taken by. He’s never seen her skin so smooth, her eyes so bright, her smile, even in the shadows, such a perfect, radiant cupid’s bow. Against the ebony backdrop of the abandoned house, ensconced in the golden glimmer of candlelight, she appears angelic. He can’t take his eyes off her. And so he stumbles through his prayers, thinking not about his words but about the image of his soon-to-be wife before him, memorizing her every curve, wishing he could snap a photo so he could show her later on just how beautiful she looked.
 
Yoffe pulls a handkerchief from his breast pocket, places it over Bella’s head. “Walk seven times,” he instructs, drawing an imaginary circle on the floor with his index finger “around Yacub.” Bella extracts her elbow from Jakob’s and obeys, her heels clicking softly on the wooden floorboards as she walks a circle, and then two. Each time she passes in front of him, Jakob whispers, “You are exquisite.” And each time, Bella blushes. When she has returned to Jakob’s side, Yoffe offers a short prayer and reaches again into his pocket, this time removing a cloth napkin, folded in two. He opens it, revealing a small light bulb with a broken filament—a functioning light is too precious to break now.

“Don’t worry, it no longer works,” he says, wrapping up the bulb and bending slowly to place it at their feet. Something creaks and Jakob wonders whether it’s the floorboards or one of the rabbi’s joints. “In the midst of this happy occasion,” Yoffe says, righting himself, “we should not forget how fragile life truly is. The breaking of glass—a symbol of the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem, of man’s short life on earth.” He motions to Jakob, and then to the floor. Jakob brings a foot down gently on the napkin, resisting the urge to stomp for fear that someone might hear.

“Mazel tov!” the others cry softly from the shadows, also straining to subdue their cheers. Jakob takes Bella’s hands, weaving his fingers between hers.

“Before we finish,” Yoffe says, pausing to look from Jakob to Bella, “I would like to add that, even in the darkness, I see your love. Inside, you are full, and through your eyes, it shines.” Jakob tightens his grip on Bella’s hand. The rabbi smiles, revealing two missing teeth, then breaks into song as he recites a final blessing:
 
You are blessed, Lord our God, the sovereign of the world, who created joy and celebration, bridegroom and bride, rejoicing, jubilation, pleasure and delight,
love and brotherhood, peace and friendship. . . .
 
The others sing along, clapping softly as Jakob and Bella seal the ceremony with a kiss.

“My wife,” Jakob says, his gaze dancing across Bella’s face. The word feels new and wonderful on his lips. He steals a second kiss.
 
“My husband.

Hand in hand, they turn to greet their guests, who emerge from the shadows of the foyer to embrace the newlyweds.

A few minutes later, the group is assembled in the dining room for a makeshift dinner, a meal smuggled in under their coats. It’s nothing fancy, but a treat, nonetheless—horsemeat burgers, boiled potatoes, and homemade beer.

Genek clinks a fork against a borrowed glass and clears his throat. “To Pan i Pani Kurc!” he says, his glass lifted. “Mazel tov!”

“Mazel tov!” the others echo.

“And it only took nine years!” Genek adds, grinning. Beside him, Herta laughs. “But seriously. To my little brother, and to his ravishing bride, who we’ve all adored since the day we met—may your love be everlasting. L’chaim!

L’chaim,” the others repeat in unison.

Jakob raises his glass, smiling at Genek, and wishing as he often does that he’d proposed sooner. Had he asked for Bella’s hand a year ago, they would have celebrated with a proper wedding—with parents, siblings, aunts, and uncles by their sides. They’d have danced to Popławski, sipped champagne from tall flutes, and gorged on gingerbread cake. The night, no doubt, would have wrapped with Addy, Halina, and Mila taking turns at the keys of a piano, serenading their guests with a jazz tune, a Chopin nocturne. He glances at Bella. They’d agreed it was the right thing, to marry here in Lvov, and even though she never said it, he knows she must feel a similar longing—for the wedding they thought they’d have. The wedding she deserved. Let it go, Jakob tells himself, pushing aside the familiar stitch of regret.

Around the table, glasses touch rims, their cylindrical bottoms catching the candlelight as bride and groom and guests sip their beer. Bella coughs and covers her mouth, her eyebrows arched, and Jakob laughs. It’s been months since they’ve had a drink, and the ale is harsh.

“Potent!” Genek offers, his dimples carving shadows in his cheeks. “We’ll all be drunk before we know it.”

“I think I might already be drunk,” Anna cries from the far end of the table.

As the others laugh, Jakob turns, rests his hand on Bella’s knee beneath the table. “Your ring is waiting for you in Radom,” he whispers. “I’m sorry I didn’t give it to you sooner. I was waiting for the perfect moment.”
Bella shakes her head. “Please,” she says. “I don’t need a ring.”

“I know this isn’t—”

“Shush, Jakob,” Bella whispers. “I know what you’re going to say.”

“I’m going to make it up to you, love. I promise.”

“Don’t.” Bella smiles. “Honestly, it’s perfect.”

Jakob’s heart swells. He leans closer, his lips brushing her ear. “It’s not how we imagined it, but I want you to know—I’ve never been happier than I am right now,” he whispers.

Bella is blushing again. “Me either.”

Product information

Brief content visible, double tap to read full content.
Full content visible, double tap to read brief content.

Videos

Help others learn more about this product by uploading a video!
Upload video
Brief content visible, double tap to read full content.
Full content visible, double tap to read brief content.

Customers who bought this item also bought

Customer reviews

4.7 out of 54.7 out of 5
10,174 global ratings

Reviews with images

Top reviews from the United States

LauraLMHS
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Miraculous! (*possible spoilers*)
Reviewed in the United States on April 16, 2018
Maybe I wasn’t paying enough attention up front, but when I embarked upon this book I was expecting to read a story that would have fallen into the genre of “historical fiction,” i.e. a fictional account of a fictional family told against the backdrop of the all-too-real... See more
Maybe I wasn’t paying enough attention up front, but when I embarked upon this book I was expecting to read a story that would have fallen into the genre of “historical fiction,” i.e. a fictional account of a fictional family told against the backdrop of the all-too-real canvas of World War II. What I got instead was the astounding, near unbelievable, TRUE account of a Polish-Jewish family’s miraculous survival during this darkest time in human history. It is not until the epilogue/“Author’s Note” that we learn that the author’s Grandfather was in fact one of the main characters in her remarkable story.

The author acknowledges that her family elders, quite understandably so, were not eager to discuss the horrors of their past. Given the sparsity of details that were handed down to her, I imagine that a good amount of this epic tale can be chalked up to poetic license, so to speak, and that the writing of this tome entailed a good deal of “fleshing out” of a very skeletal handed-down (and oftentimes not first-hand) account. Nevertheless, the essence of this tale is true, and nothing short of miraculous, awe-inspiring and, indeed, life-affirming.

The protagonists here are Sol and Nechuma Kurc, their five young-adult children and their respective spouses. The story unfolds all over the far-flung corners of the globe during and after the Second World War: Poland, France, Siberia, Palestine, Argentina and, lastly, the United States. (Keeping track of the many main characters may have been a bit unwieldy, but the author handily provides a family tree at the book’s beginning, which I found myself consulting time after time.)

The aspects of this story that moved me most deeply were:

First, one cannot read this book without being struck by the perseverance and determination of the family members to provide for one another and simply to survive at the most elemental level during times of starvation, extreme weather, persecution and all the other privations of war-torn Europe. To say that We Were the Lucky Ones is a testament to the human spirit is to state the obvious.

Second, the love this family held for one another and the cohesiveness of the family unit – especially when all else was lost – was something that really touched me. There is a not-so-very subtle message here about what matters most in life. The instances of self-sacrifice (Halina for her parents and Mila for her daughter, to name just a couple) are particularly noteworthy.

Third, the family, having immigrated to the Unites States immediately post-war, made the utmost of their lives here, all going on to become successful in their chosen spheres. It strikes me that, as clichéd as it may sound, America is truly the land of opportunity for those who are willing to make it happen. As an American whose own Grandparents came here from Europe, I have to say that the author’s choice to bring this out brought a lump to my throat.

I don’t know if it’s even possible to describe a Holocaust story as having a happy ending, but if it is at all possible – considering the devastating losses to the world and to humanity at large - this family’s story had one. In fact, the book lightly touches upon the concept of survivor’s guilt: Toward the end of the book one of the characters muses about how none of them should have survived, and yet (against the odds) all of them did. They were the lucky ones….

A word about the unspeakably brave souls who harbored the hunted: people like Halina’s boss who was willing to vouch for her (on more than one occasion), or like the peasant family who hid Sol and Nachuma behind a false wall in their home, or the Mother Superior who ran an orphanage and who was willing to accept the falsehood that little Felicia was “Aryan” in order to spare her life. To paraphrase a sentiment of Anne Frank’s: despite everything, there truly are good people in this world. In a world gone mad, these courageous individuals are true heroes.

The sanctity of life and the belief that life is something worth fighting for are not new concepts to Holocaust literature. This book ranks right up there with the best in the lessons it has to impart.

All in all, edge-of-your-seat story-telling, with an extremely poignant ending. Definitely recommended.
296 people found this helpful
Helpful
Report
momof2
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Excellent Read!
Reviewed in the United States on February 2, 2018
I absolutely loved this book. I have read many stories detailing the horrors Jews faced throughout Europe before, during, and after World War II....and expected this story to be similar. It was different...I connected with it far more that other stories of the same genre.... See more
I absolutely loved this book. I have read many stories detailing the horrors Jews faced throughout Europe before, during, and after World War II....and expected this story to be similar. It was different...I connected with it far more that other stories of the same genre. Perhaps knowing it was based on the author''s family made it all the more moving. It is a book that I finished a few weeks ago, but cannot stop talking about to friends and family. It is a story that has stayed with me. I highly recommend!
379 people found this helpful
Helpful
Report
Jen Hanson
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
You Need Tissues!
Reviewed in the United States on April 10, 2017
I''ve already posted my review on Goodreads, but I''ll post it on Amazon too. First off, thank you Penguin-Viking for allowing me to read this beautiful ARC. I''ve been given this ARC for my honest feedback. The following review is my mere opinion. I will... See more
I''ve already posted my review on Goodreads, but I''ll post it on Amazon too.

First off, thank you Penguin-Viking for allowing me to read this beautiful ARC. I''ve been given this ARC for my honest feedback.

The following review is my mere opinion. I will start with the dislikes, move on to the likes, and my own personal thoughts.

What did I dislike about this novel?
Absolutely NOTHING.

What did I like about this novel?

1. The characters. Even though I know it''s based on a true story, I enjoyed the characters.
2. It made me cry, laugh, and cry a ton.
3. Finding out more about what the Jewish community really went through in order to survive.
4. Well-written. Hats off to Mrs. Hunter. I''m an instant fan.
5. The careful research that went into making this a novel.
6. The patience Mrs. Hunter must have had. Not many writers want to talk about their family''s history. It takes so much time to research and fact-check. Kudos to Mrs. Hunter.
7. The ending and the acknowledgement. For the first time, I feel completely satisfied and that''s hard to achieve.

Now for my personal thoughts.

What are you waiting for? Go buy this book already! It will make you laugh, cry, cry some more and it will keep you on the edge of your seat. I won''t give anything away. You have to be willing to have a box of tissues nearby. It also makes me thing of my ancestors. What they went through to make it this far. Would I ever write about my family''s history? No. I don''t have the patience. We cannot deny the painful part of our prior history. We need to learn from it and do better as each generation passes. I cried, I honestly did. It made my stomach churn and drop. But this is a book about sacrifice and love. I know as a mother, I would do anything to save my children. But this family is simply remarkable. Yeah, maybe some parts were dramatized but Mrs. Hunter took me there. I could imagine the horrors her family went through. If this book doesn''t make you feel something, I don''t know what else to tell you. I plan on buying this book on hardcover and it will remain a treasure for the rest of my life. What we need is a whole lot more love in this world and a lot less hate. Thank you, Mrs. Hunter. Bless you and your beautiful family. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing your story. I''m sure it was painful for her to write this. I could only imagine.
332 people found this helpful
Helpful
Report
Bellajo
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A story of hope, strength and spirit.
Reviewed in the United States on January 24, 2018
I would normally avoid a book written about this dark period of history. But I absolutely loved We Were The Lucky Ones. Beautifully written and fast paced. Each chapter is filled with hope and the amazing strength of spirit of each character. I finished it last night and I... See more
I would normally avoid a book written about this dark period of history. But I absolutely loved We Were The Lucky Ones. Beautifully written and fast paced. Each chapter is filled with hope and the amazing strength of spirit of each character. I finished it last night and I found myself thinking about the Kurc family several times today. Terrific read!!
155 people found this helpful
Helpful
Report
Mimi
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Best book I''ve read in 2018!!!!
Reviewed in the United States on May 26, 2018
What a great book. Everyone should read this book, especially all of the WHINERS we have in our society these days. When you have a bad day, pick up this book and count your blessings. This isn''t a light or easy book to read -- and I knew it would not be. What an... See more
What a great book. Everyone should read this book, especially all of the WHINERS we have in our society these days. When you have a bad day, pick up this book and count your blessings. This isn''t a light or easy book to read -- and I knew it would not be. What an amazing story. I''ve done some of my own family research and know how difficult it can be. Georgia Hunter did MAJOR research and then wove the stories of her grandfather, his five children, their four spouses, plus extended family members in to an very moving novel. I''ll never forget this book. It made me cry harder than I''ve cried in a while over a book. My suggestions for a second edition would be:
1) Expand the family tree -- there are a lot of people in this book! The family tree in the front was very helpful but I had to make lots of notes to keep track of all of the people. It was worth it.
2) After kilometers, put the miles in parenthesis: 500 kilometers (310 miles). I know, I know, we Americans were supposed to convert to Metric a good 40+ years ago. It is shameful. I was able to Google it but a conversion would be a nice enhancement
3) Translate more Polish and Yiddish words for us.
Adding the historical events between chapters was very helpful, with good explanations.
Beautiful, heart-wrenching, awe-inspiring and amazing experience.
We are the Lucky Ones for Georgia Hunter getting inspired to research and write about her family history.
Oct 2019: I just re-read this book and it is even better the second time around. What a story!
63 people found this helpful
Helpful
Report
Betty Orr
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A Personal Connection
Reviewed in the United States on December 22, 2018
The daughter of survivors, I have been hearing Holocaust stories since the time I could hear. My parents’ stories, also set in Poland (Tarnopol & Oswiecim), are remarkably similar to the events depicted in Georgia Hunter’s, We Were The Lucky Ones. The difference,... See more
The daughter of survivors, I have been hearing Holocaust stories since the time I could hear.
My parents’ stories, also set in Poland (Tarnopol & Oswiecim), are remarkably similar to the events depicted in Georgia Hunter’s, We Were The Lucky Ones. The difference, however, is in this particular family’s fortune to survive… intact!
A brilliant narrative and haunting retrospective, We Were The Lucky Ones transported me to a place and time, connecting me with the stories that not only permeated my childhood, but which also shaped my existence. Devouring each word, I held my breath, I cried and I rejoiced with the Kurc Family, thanking the author not only for this glimpse into her family’s history, but also for a glimpse into mine. Pictured Above: The Rosenfelds (my mom on left), Tarnopol, Pre-Ghetto.
45 people found this helpful
Helpful
Report
Neverjust2
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
So close to being great, but doesn''t quite make it
Reviewed in the United States on March 20, 2018
This book is so close to being great, but misses the fence.Bouncing around from character to character for each chapter makes for a cumbersome read. Keeping track of characters that were left several chapters ago, to be reunited with them later and having to recall via the... See more
This book is so close to being great, but misses the fence.Bouncing around from character to character for each chapter makes for a cumbersome read. Keeping track of characters that were left several chapters ago, to be reunited with them later and having to recall via the family tree provided where they fit in is rather time consuming. It takes a few rounds to keep them straight and often times felt like the characters were being abandoned. The story is amazing in that a family survives. This is one book that if done right will make a better movie.
60 people found this helpful
Helpful
Report
Patrizia
2.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Gripping story, but seriously flawed novel
Reviewed in the United States on August 21, 2018
I wish I had better enjoyed reading this. It does important work in showing the varieties of experiences suffered by Holocaust survivors, and I liked the structural device of following the war chronologically, yet skipping among the stories of all the characters, and what... See more
I wish I had better enjoyed reading this. It does important work in showing the varieties of experiences suffered by Holocaust survivors, and I liked the structural device of following the war chronologically, yet skipping among the stories of all the characters, and what each was doing during a certain time. However, 3 things really bothered me. First, the characters are all improbably idealized, probably because the author is writing about her own family. Yes, these characters did many brave and even heroic things, but no one ever got angry, no one ever had a bad mood, no o ne argued over doing the dishes, everyone loved one another every second. It''s true that twice female characers suffered debilitating depressions, but each time she had a baby, and that fixed it. Second, all the characters long for home, family, and life before the Nazis arrived, which is probably very true, and understandable. But in the novel, this means that almost every chapter has some character yearning once again for a Passover dinner, and those reperated scenes of nostalgia got tedious. Third, I found the writing rather flat. There''s nothing sparkly about the prose style. So, which the book tells an important story and kept me reading until the end (although I skipped the Passover dinner scenes after a while), I don''t think it''s as well done as most other commentators do. Hard to criticize a heartfelt novel about Holocaust survivors, but as a novel, it has glaring (to me) weaknesses.
25 people found this helpful
Helpful
Report

Top reviews from other countries

anonymous
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
a beautiful, TRUE story
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 26, 2018
I loved this book. I heard an interview with the author and thought it was worth a read, although I was reluctant at first as I feel like I have read so much WWII fiction and non-fiction - what more could I learn? It does start out a bit slow but picks up and is a wonderful...See more
I loved this book. I heard an interview with the author and thought it was worth a read, although I was reluctant at first as I feel like I have read so much WWII fiction and non-fiction - what more could I learn? It does start out a bit slow but picks up and is a wonderful read. I found myself crying tears of joy at the end. If it were fiction, it would have been unbelievable to have all these siblings survive the tragedies and circumstances. As some of the negative reviews pointed out - there are a lot of characters. A family tree at the beginning would have been helpful. I found myself losing track of who was married to whom, who was a sibling of the Kurc family (vs. a spouse), etc. I finally just decided it didn''t really matter to understanding the story, but it would help to have that in the introductory pages to help keep track.
5 people found this helpful
Report
Bookworm
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A solemn reminder of how Jews suffered Poland during WW2
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on March 27, 2018
I am about half-way through the book and it is an interesting read especially as it is based on fact; I do find it a little difficult to cope with all the characters as there are many,and obviously as all the names are in Polish or Russian,it is hard to store them and their...See more
I am about half-way through the book and it is an interesting read especially as it is based on fact; I do find it a little difficult to cope with all the characters as there are many,and obviously as all the names are in Polish or Russian,it is hard to store them and their relationships in one''s mind.The story moves to a different character /pair/family with each chapter,therefore by the time I start another chapter,I have forgotten who earlier characters are! Nevertheless,the book does portray how terribly the Jews suffered and how dreadful it must have been to live under such a regime.
7 people found this helpful
Report
Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Our book club choice
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on June 19, 2017
Not usually keen on stories to do with 2nd world war, and when I first started this book wasn''t sure I would finish it. But it grabbed me and I couldn''t put it down. The stories based on truth were unbelievable, the courage this family had and the terrible things they went...See more
Not usually keen on stories to do with 2nd world war, and when I first started this book wasn''t sure I would finish it. But it grabbed me and I couldn''t put it down. The stories based on truth were unbelievable, the courage this family had and the terrible things they went through, I also learned a lot of new things about that time too. Though the book didn''t shy away from the horrors it was written in a way that I could read and not be permanently in tears. I would recommend this book to everyone from the age of 15years up. How so called human beings can treat other human beings in this way is abhorrent and everyone should learn from it. Unfortunately the horrors are still going on in one form or another will we ever learn?
13 people found this helpful
Report
F Todd
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Unforgettable story
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 23, 2019
This is an incredibly powerful story- like others have said, if it weren''t based on a true story you would never be able to believe what this family went through. Well worth a read, even if you have read a lot of WW2 fiction in the past. The only reason it''s not 5 stars is...See more
This is an incredibly powerful story- like others have said, if it weren''t based on a true story you would never be able to believe what this family went through. Well worth a read, even if you have read a lot of WW2 fiction in the past. The only reason it''s not 5 stars is because there was a lot of telling rather than showing. At times it felt like you were reading someone''s memories (which makes sense as that''s a lot of the basis for the book), but it didn''t feel like that was weaved into the narrative quite enough, especially at the beginning which is very slow because of it. Either way, you won''t regret this glimpse into one family''s epic tale of survival and courage across continents. It will make you grateful for all you hold dear.
2 people found this helpful
Report
bookfeast
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Survival againt the brutal odds
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 12, 2019
It''s always harrowing reading survivors'' stories of the holocaust - and I have read many. This was was especially poignant as it was written by the great granddaughter of the family patriarch. The story starts from the mid 30s during the ominous encroachment of Hitler''s...See more
It''s always harrowing reading survivors'' stories of the holocaust - and I have read many. This was was especially poignant as it was written by the great granddaughter of the family patriarch. The story starts from the mid 30s during the ominous encroachment of Hitler''s Germany and the increasing hostility towards the Jewish population in Poland. We track the harrowing and heroic journeys of each of the Kurc family from Radom, Poland and their separation as they find ways to escape the camps right up until the defeat of the nazis. It renews the sense of horror about the treatment of the Jewish populations across Europe during WW2 - but this is a personal story and it brought me to tears many times. Brutality was the theme of the book but also the triumph of the human spirit against adversity and the courageous risks people took to help the persecuted. Highly recommended.
One person found this helpful
Report
See all reviews
Brief content visible, double tap to read full content.
Full content visible, double tap to read brief content.

Customers who viewed this item also viewed

Brief content visible, double tap to read full content.
Full content visible, double tap to read brief content.

Explore similar books

Tags that will help you discover similar books. 16 tags
Results for: 
Where do clickable book tags come from?
Brief content visible, double tap to read full content.
Full content visible, double tap to read brief content.

Pages with related products.

  • world historical novels
  • polish history
  • best gifts for 2018
  • 2018 Best Gifts
  • Novels Books

We Were the Lucky Ones




Description

Product Description

The New York Times bestseller with more than 1 million copies sold worldwide

Inspired by the incredible true story of one Jewish family separated at the start of World War II, determined to survive—and to reunite—We Were the Lucky Ones is a tribute to the triumph of hope and love against all odds. 

 
“Love in the face of global adversity? It couldn''t be more timely.” —Glamour
 
It is the spring of 1939 and three generations of the Kurc family are doing their best to live normal lives, even as the shadow of war grows closer. The talk around the family Seder table is of new babies and budding romance, not of the increasing hardships threatening Jews in their hometown of Radom, Poland. But soon the horrors overtaking Europe will become inescapable and the Kurcs will be flung to the far corners of the world, each desperately trying to navigate his or her own path to safety.
 
As one sibling is forced into exile, another attempts to flee the continent, while others struggle to escape certain death, either by working grueling hours on empty stomachs in the factories of the ghetto or by hiding as gentiles in plain sight. Driven by an unwavering will to survive and by the fear that they may never see one another again, the Kurcs must rely on hope, ingenuity, and inner strength to persevere.
 
An extraordinary, propulsive novel, We Were the Lucky Ones demonstrates how in the face of the twentieth century’s darkest moment, the human spirit can endure and even thrive.

Review

“[Georgia Hunter is] just as courageous as the characters her writing will never let us forget.” — Harper’s Bazaar

“Love in the face of global adversity? It couldn''t be more timely.” — Glamour, “Best Books to Read in 2017”

“[A] gripping, emotional novel.” — People , “The Best New Books”

“A remarkable story of courage, love, and of course, luck.” — Book Riot’s Best Books of 2017

“[A] gripping and moving story.” — Bustle, “15 New Authors You’re Going To Be Obsessed With This Year”

“Turning history into fiction can be tricky . . . Hunter finesses the challenge. Her novel brings the Kurcs to life in heart-pounding detail.” — The Jewish Voice

“The story that so grippingly comes across in the pages of We Were the Lucky Ones isn''t strictly fiction—the characters and events that inhabit this Holocaust survival story are based on her family''s own history.” — Newsweek

“[A] must-read.” — New York Post

“[A] remarkable history . . . Hunter sidesteps hollow sentimentality and nihilism, revealing instead the beautiful complexity and ambiguity of life in this extraordinarily moving tale.” — Publishers Weekly

A Finalist for the National Jewish Book Awards’ Book Club Award

A Women’s National Book Association Great Group Read

“Reading Georgia Hunter’s We Were the Lucky Ones is like being swung heart first into history. Her engrossing and deeply affecting account . . . will leave you breathless. But the true wonder of the book is how convincingly Hunter inhabits these characters, each modeled after her own family members. This is their story Hunter is telling so beautifully and profoundly, and ours as well. A brave and mesmerizing debut, and a truly tremendous accomplishment.” — Paula McLain, author of The Paris Wife and Circling the Sun

We Were the Lucky Ones is the most gripping novel I''ve read in years. Georgia Hunter pulled me into another world, vivid, horrifying, astonishing, and heartbreaking.” — Lauren Belfer, New York Times bestselling author of And After the Fire, A Fierce Radiance, and City of Light.

We Were the Lucky Ones is a skillfully woven reimagining of [Hunter’s] own family’s struggle for survival during World War II . . . with spectacular historical detail. This emotionally resonant, gripping portrait of the war is filled with beautifully drawn and wonderfully heroic characters I won’t soon forget.” — Jillian Cantor, author of  Margot and  The Hours Count

“Georgia Hunter has crafted her own family history into a sprawling, yet still intimate portrait of those swept up in the devastation of war and scattered to the winds.  It is an astonishing saga of hope, of luck, of destruction, and most remarkably of love, made all the more astonishing because of the true story at its core.” — David R. Gillham, New York Times bestselling author of City of Women

“Elegantly executed and always clear, Hunter evokes pre-war Poland with loving detail, clearly showing what was left behind and lost. . . . We Were the Lucky Ones is a compelling read, notable for Hunter’s clear portraits of her plucky, resilient family, and for her ability to build suspense and investment without emotional manipulation.” — Courtney Naliboff, ReformJudaism

About the Author

When  Georgia Hunter was fifteen years old, she learned that she came from a family of Holocaust survivors.  We Were the Lucky Ones was born of her quest to uncover her family’s staggering history. Hunter’s website, georgiahunterauthor.com, offers a behind-the-scenes glimpse at the extensive research this project has entailed. She lives in Connecticut.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Jakob and Bella

Lvov, Soviet-Occupied Poland ~ October 24, 1939


Bella steps carefully so as not to clip the backs of Anna’s heels. The sisters move slowly, deliberately, talking in whispers. It’s nine in the evening, and the streets are empty. There isn’t a curfew in Lvov as there is in Radom, but the blackout is still in effect, and with the street lamps extinguished, it’s nearly impossible to see.
 
“I can’t believe we didn’t bring a flashlight,” Bella whispers.
 
“I walked the route earlier today,” Anna says. “Just stay close, I know where I’m going.”
 
Bella smiles. Slinking through backstreets in the pale blue light of the moon reminds her of the nights she and Jakob used to tiptoe at two in the morning from their apartments to make love in the park under the chestnut trees.

“It’s just here,” Anna whispers.

They climb a small flight of stairs, entering the house through a side door. Inside, it’s even darker than it is on the street.

“Stay here for a moment while I light a match,” Anna says, rummaging through her handbag.

“Yes, ma’am,” Bella says, laughing. All her life it’s been she who bosses Anna about, not the other way around. Anna is the baby, the family’s sweetheart. But Bella knows that behind the pretty face and quiet façade, her sister is whip smart, capable of anything she sets her mind to.

Despite being two years younger, Anna was the first to marry. She and her husband, Daniel, live just down the street from Bella and Jakob in Lvov—a reality that has softened Bella’s pain at leaving her parents behind. The sisters see each other often and talk frequently about how to convince their parents to make the move to Lvov. But in her letters, Gustava insists that she and Henry are getting by on their own in Radom. Your father’s dentistry is still bringing a bit of income, she wrote in her last correspondence. He’s been treating the Germans. It doesn’t make sense for us to move, not yet at least. Just promise to visit when you can, and to write often.

“How on earth did you find this place?” Bella asks. She’d been given no address, just told to follow. They’d snaked through so many narrow back alleys on their way, she’d lost her sense of direction.

“Adam found it,” Anna says, striking a match over and over without a spark. “Through the Underground,” she adds. “Apparently they’ve used it before, as a sort of safe house. It’s abandoned, so we shouldn’t have any surprise visitors.”  

Finally, a match  takes, emitting a cloud of sharp-smelling sulphur and an amber halo of light.

“Adam said he left a candle by the faucet,” she mutters, shuffling toward the sink, a hand cupped over the flame. Adam had found the rabbi, too, which Bella knew was no easy task. When Lvov fell, the Soviets stripped the city’s rabbis of their titles and banned them from practicing; those who were unable to find new jobs went into hiding. Yoffe was the only rabbi Adam could find, he said, who wasn’t afraid to officiate a marriage ceremony, under the condition that the wedding take place in secrecy.

In the match’s faint glow, the room begins to take shape. Bella looks around, at the shadow of a kettle resting on a stove top, a bowl of wooden spoons silhouetted on the counter, a blackout curtain hanging in a window over the sink. Whoever lived here left in a hurry, it seems. “It’s incredibly kind of Adam to do this for us,” Bella says, more to herself than to her sister. She’d met Adam a year ago, when he leased a room in the Kurcs’ apartment. Mostly she knew him as Halina’s boyfriend, calm and cool and rather quiet—oftentimes his voice was barely heard around the dinner table. But since arriving in Lvov, Adam has surprised Bella with his ability to orchestrate the impossible: handcrafting false identification cards for the family. As far as the Russians know, Adam works at an orchard outside the city, harvesting apples—but in the Underground, Adam has become a prized counterfeiter. By now, hundreds of Jews have pocketed his IDs, which he produces with such a meticulous hand, Bella would swear they are real.
 
She’d asked him once how he was able to make them look so authentic.

“They are authentic.  The stamps, at least,” he’d said, explaining how he’d discovered that he could remove official government stamps from existing IDs with a peeled, just-boiled egg. “I lift the original when the egg is still hot,” Adam said, “then roll the egg over the new ID. Don’t ask
why, but it works.”

“Found it!” Darkness envelops them once again as Anna fumbles for another match. A moment later, the candle is lit.

Bella removes her coat, lays it over the back of a chair.

“Cold  in here,”  Anna whispers. “Sorry.” Carrying the candle, she makes her way from the sink to stand beside Bella.

“It’s  okay.”  Bella suppresses a shiver. “Is  Jakob already here? And Genek? Herta? It’s so quiet.”

“Everyone’s here. Getting settled in the foyer, I imagine.”

“So I’m not to be married in the kitchen?” Bella laughs and then sighs, realizing that for as many times as she’d told herself she’d marry Jakob anywhere, the idea of wedding him here, in the shadowy, ghostlike home of a family she’ll never know, was beginning to make her feel uneasy.

“Please. You’ve far too much class for a kitchen wedding.”

Bella smiles. “I didn’t think I’d be nervous.”

“It’s your wedding day—of course you’re nervous!”

The words reverberate through her and Bella goes still. “I wish Mother and Father could be here,” she says finally, and as she hears herself, her eyes well up with tears. She and Jakob had talked about waiting until the war was over to marry, so they could hold a more traditional ceremony in Radom with their families. But there was no telling when the war would end. They’d waited long enough, they decided. The Tatars and the Kurcs had both given their blessings from Radom. They’d practically begged Jakob and Bella to marry. Still, Bella hates that her parents can’t be with her—hates that, despite how happy she is now that she’s with Jakob, she’s also guilty for it. Is it right, she wonders, to celebrate while her country is at war? While her parents are alone in Radom—her parents, who, for all of her life, have given her so much when they had so little? Bella’s memory flashes to the day when she and Anna returned home from school to find their father in the living room with a scruffy-looking dog at his feet. The pup was a gift, their father told them, from one of his patients who had fallen on hard times and was unable to pay to have a tooth extracted. Bella and Anna, who had begged for a dog since they were toddlers, had shrieked with joy and rushed to hug their father, who wrapped his arms around them, laughing as the dog nipped playfully at their ankles.

Anna squeezes her hand. “I know,” she says, “I wish they could be here, too. But they want this so badly for you. You mustn’t worry about them. Not tonight.”

Bella nods. “It’s just so far from what I imagined,” she whispers.

“I know,” Anna says again, her voice soft.

When they were teenagers, Bella and Anna would lie in bed and talk for hours, spinning stories of their wedding days. At the time, Bella could see it perfectly: the sweet-smelling bouquet of white roses her mother would arrange for her to carry; the smile on her father’s face as he lifted her veil to kiss her forehead beneath the chuppah; the thrill of slipping a ring over Jakob’s index finger, a symbol of their love that he would carry with him for the remainder of his lifetime. Her wedding, had it been in Radom, would have been far from lavish, this she knows. It would have been simple. Beautiful. What it would not have been was a secret ceremony, held in the cold carcass of an abandoned, blacked-out house 500 kilometers from her parents. But, Bella reminds herself, she’d chosen to come to Lvov, after all. She and Jakob had decided together to marry here. Her sister is right; her parents have wanted this for her for years. She should focus on what she has, not what she doesn’t—on this night, especially.

“No one could have predicted this,” Anna adds. “But just think,” she says, her voice growing more chipper, “the next time you see Mama i Tata, you will be a married woman! Hard to believe, isn’t it?”

Bella smiles, willing away her tears. “It is, in a way,” she whispers, thinking about her father’s letter, which had arrived two days ago. In it, Henry described how overjoyed he and Gustava were upon learning of her intent to marry. We love you so much, dear Bella. Your Jakob is a good soul, that boy, with a fine family. We will celebrate, all of us, when we are together again. Rather than show the letter to Jakob right away, Bella had slipped it under her pillow and decided she’d let him read it later that evening, once they’d returned to their apartment, a married couple.

Sucking in her stomach, Bella runs her hands along the lace bodice of her dress. “I’m so happy it fits,” she says, exhaling. “It’s just as beautiful as I remember it.”

When Anna became engaged to Daniel, their mother, knowing that they couldn’t afford the kind of dress Anna would want from a dressmaker, decided to make a gown herself. She, Bella, and Anna had scoured the pages of McCall’s and Harper’s Bazaar for the designs they liked. When Anna finally picked her favorite—inspired by film stills of Barbara Stanwyck—the Tatar women spent an entire afternoon at Nechuma’s fabric shop, poring over bolts of various satins, silks, and laces, marveling over how luxurious each felt as they rubbed it between their fingers. Nechuma gave them the materials they finally selected at cost, and it took Gustava nearly a month to finish the gown—a V-neck, with a white lace-trimmed bodice, long gathered Gibson sleeves, buttons down the back, a bell-shaped skirt that fell just to the floor, and a powder-white satin sash gathered at her hips. Delighted, Anna deemed it a masterpiece. Bella had secretly hoped she’d get to wear it someday.

“I’m just happy I brought it,” Anna says. “I almost left it with Mother, but I couldn’t bear to part with it. Oh, Bella.” Anna stands back to take her in. “You look so beautiful! Come,” she says, adjusting the gold brooch hanging around Bella’s neck so it sits perfectly centered in the hollow between her collarbones, “before I cry. Are you ready?”

“Almost.” Bella fishes a metal tube from her coat pocket. She removes the lid, then swivels the bottom a half turn and applies a few dabs of Peppercorn Red lipstick carefully to her lips, wishing she had a mirror. “I’m glad you brought this, too,” she says, rubbing her lips together before dropping the tube back into her pocket. “And that you were willing to share,” she adds. When lipstick was pulled from the market—the army had better use for petroleum and castor oil—most women they knew clung fiercely to what was left of their supplies.

“Of course,” Anna says. “So—gotowa?

“Ready.”

Carrying the candle in one hand, Anna guides Bella gently through a doorway.

The foyer is dimly illuminated by two small votives propped on the staircase balusters. Jakob stands at the foot of the stairs. At first, all Bella can make out of him is his silhouette—his narrow torso, the gentle slope of his shoulders.

“We’ll save this one for later,” Anna says, snuffing out her candle. She kisses Bella on the cheek. “I love you,” she says, beaming, and then makes her way to greet the others. Bella can’t see them, but she can hear whispers: Och, jaka pie, kna! Beautiful!

A second silhouette stands motionless beside her groom, the candlelight catching the frizz of a long, silver beard. It must be the rabbi, Bella realizes. She steps into the flickering glow of the votives, and as she slides her elbow through Jakob’s, she feels the tightness between her ribs disappear. She isn’t nervous anymore, or cold. She’s floating.

Jakob’s eyes are wet when they meet hers. In her sister’s ivory kitten heels, she’s nearly as tall as he. He plants a kiss on her cheek.

“Hello, sunshine,” he says, smiling.

“Hi,” Bella replies, grinning. One of the onlookers chuckles.

The rabbi extends a hand. His face is a maze of wrinkles. He must be in his eighties, Bella guesses. “I am Rabbi Yoffe,” he says. His voice, like his beard, is rough around the edges.

“Pleasure,” Bella says, taking his hand and dipping her chin. His fingers feel frail and knotted between hers, like a cluster of twigs. “Thank you for this,” she says, knowing what a risk he’d taken to be there.

Yoffe clears his throat. “Well. Shall we get started?” Jakob and Bella nod.

Yacub,” Yoffe begins, “repeat after me.”
 
Jakob does his best not to bungle Rabbi Yoffe’s words, but it’s difficult, partly because his Hebrew is rudimentary, but mostly because he’s too distracted by his bride to keep a thought in his mind for more than a few seconds. She is spectacular in her gown. But it’s not the dress he’s taken by. He’s never seen her skin so smooth, her eyes so bright, her smile, even in the shadows, such a perfect, radiant cupid’s bow. Against the ebony backdrop of the abandoned house, ensconced in the golden glimmer of candlelight, she appears angelic. He can’t take his eyes off her. And so he stumbles through his prayers, thinking not about his words but about the image of his soon-to-be wife before him, memorizing her every curve, wishing he could snap a photo so he could show her later on just how beautiful she looked.
 
Yoffe pulls a handkerchief from his breast pocket, places it over Bella’s head. “Walk seven times,” he instructs, drawing an imaginary circle on the floor with his index finger “around Yacub.” Bella extracts her elbow from Jakob’s and obeys, her heels clicking softly on the wooden floorboards as she walks a circle, and then two. Each time she passes in front of him, Jakob whispers, “You are exquisite.” And each time, Bella blushes. When she has returned to Jakob’s side, Yoffe offers a short prayer and reaches again into his pocket, this time removing a cloth napkin, folded in two. He opens it, revealing a small light bulb with a broken filament—a functioning light is too precious to break now.

“Don’t worry, it no longer works,” he says, wrapping up the bulb and bending slowly to place it at their feet. Something creaks and Jakob wonders whether it’s the floorboards or one of the rabbi’s joints. “In the midst of this happy occasion,” Yoffe says, righting himself, “we should not forget how fragile life truly is. The breaking of glass—a symbol of the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem, of man’s short life on earth.” He motions to Jakob, and then to the floor. Jakob brings a foot down gently on the napkin, resisting the urge to stomp for fear that someone might hear.

“Mazel tov!” the others cry softly from the shadows, also straining to subdue their cheers. Jakob takes Bella’s hands, weaving his fingers between hers.

“Before we finish,” Yoffe says, pausing to look from Jakob to Bella, “I would like to add that, even in the darkness, I see your love. Inside, you are full, and through your eyes, it shines.” Jakob tightens his grip on Bella’s hand. The rabbi smiles, revealing two missing teeth, then breaks into song as he recites a final blessing:
 
You are blessed, Lord our God, the sovereign of the world, who created joy and celebration, bridegroom and bride, rejoicing, jubilation, pleasure and delight,
love and brotherhood, peace and friendship. . . .
 
The others sing along, clapping softly as Jakob and Bella seal the ceremony with a kiss.

“My wife,” Jakob says, his gaze dancing across Bella’s face. The word feels new and wonderful on his lips. He steals a second kiss.
 
“My husband.

Hand in hand, they turn to greet their guests, who emerge from the shadows of the foyer to embrace the newlyweds.

A few minutes later, the group is assembled in the dining room for a makeshift dinner, a meal smuggled in under their coats. It’s nothing fancy, but a treat, nonetheless—horsemeat burgers, boiled potatoes, and homemade beer.

Genek clinks a fork against a borrowed glass and clears his throat. “To Pan i Pani Kurc!” he says, his glass lifted. “Mazel tov!”

“Mazel tov!” the others echo.

“And it only took nine years!” Genek adds, grinning. Beside him, Herta laughs. “But seriously. To my little brother, and to his ravishing bride, who we’ve all adored since the day we met—may your love be everlasting. L’chaim!

L’chaim,” the others repeat in unison.

Jakob raises his glass, smiling at Genek, and wishing as he often does that he’d proposed sooner. Had he asked for Bella’s hand a year ago, they would have celebrated with a proper wedding—with parents, siblings, aunts, and uncles by their sides. They’d have danced to Popławski, sipped champagne from tall flutes, and gorged on gingerbread cake. The night, no doubt, would have wrapped with Addy, Halina, and Mila taking turns at the keys of a piano, serenading their guests with a jazz tune, a Chopin nocturne. He glances at Bella. They’d agreed it was the right thing, to marry here in Lvov, and even though she never said it, he knows she must feel a similar longing—for the wedding they thought they’d have. The wedding she deserved. Let it go, Jakob tells himself, pushing aside the familiar stitch of regret.

Around the table, glasses touch rims, their cylindrical bottoms catching the candlelight as bride and groom and guests sip their beer. Bella coughs and covers her mouth, her eyebrows arched, and Jakob laughs. It’s been months since they’ve had a drink, and the ale is harsh.

“Potent!” Genek offers, his dimples carving shadows in his cheeks. “We’ll all be drunk before we know it.”

“I think I might already be drunk,” Anna cries from the far end of the table.

As the others laugh, Jakob turns, rests his hand on Bella’s knee beneath the table. “Your ring is waiting for you in Radom,” he whispers. “I’m sorry I didn’t give it to you sooner. I was waiting for the perfect moment.”
Bella shakes her head. “Please,” she says. “I don’t need a ring.”

“I know this isn’t—”

“Shush, Jakob,” Bella whispers. “I know what you’re going to say.”

“I’m going to make it up to you, love. I promise.”

“Don’t.” Bella smiles. “Honestly, it’s perfect.”

Jakob’s heart swells. He leans closer, his lips brushing her ear. “It’s not how we imagined it, but I want you to know—I’ve never been happier than I am right now,” he whispers.

Bella is blushing again. “Me either.”

Product information

We outlet online sale Were the Lucky Ones: outlet sale A Novel sale

We outlet online sale Were the Lucky Ones: outlet sale A Novel sale

We outlet online sale Were the Lucky Ones: outlet sale A Novel sale

We outlet online sale Were the Lucky Ones: outlet sale A Novel sale

We outlet online sale Were the Lucky Ones: outlet sale A Novel sale

We outlet online sale Were the Lucky Ones: outlet sale A Novel sale

We outlet online sale Were the Lucky Ones: outlet sale A Novel sale

We outlet online sale Were the Lucky Ones: outlet sale A Novel sale

We outlet online sale Were the Lucky Ones: outlet sale A Novel sale

We outlet online sale Were the Lucky Ones: outlet sale A Novel sale

We outlet online sale Were the Lucky Ones: outlet sale A Novel sale

We outlet online sale Were the Lucky Ones: outlet sale A Novel sale

We outlet online sale Were the Lucky Ones: outlet sale A Novel sale

We outlet online sale Were the Lucky Ones: outlet sale A Novel sale

We outlet online sale Were the Lucky Ones: outlet sale A Novel sale

We outlet online sale Were the Lucky Ones: outlet sale A Novel sale

We outlet online sale Were the Lucky Ones: outlet sale A Novel sale

We outlet online sale Were the Lucky Ones: outlet sale A Novel sale

We outlet online sale Were the Lucky Ones: outlet sale A Novel sale

We outlet online sale Were the Lucky Ones: outlet sale A Novel sale

We outlet online sale Were the Lucky Ones: outlet sale A Novel sale

We outlet online sale Were the Lucky Ones: outlet sale A Novel sale

We outlet online sale Were the Lucky Ones: outlet sale A Novel sale

We outlet online sale Were the Lucky Ones: outlet sale A Novel sale

We outlet online sale Were the Lucky Ones: outlet sale A Novel sale

We outlet online sale Were the Lucky Ones: outlet sale A Novel sale

We outlet online sale Were the Lucky Ones: outlet sale A Novel sale

We outlet online sale Were the Lucky Ones: outlet sale A Novel sale

We outlet online sale Were the Lucky Ones: outlet sale A Novel sale

We outlet online sale Were the Lucky Ones: outlet sale A Novel sale

We outlet online sale Were the Lucky Ones: outlet sale A Novel sale

We outlet online sale Were the Lucky Ones: outlet sale A Novel sale

We outlet online sale Were the Lucky Ones: outlet sale A Novel sale

We outlet online sale Were the Lucky Ones: outlet sale A Novel sale

We outlet online sale Were the Lucky Ones: outlet sale A Novel sale

We outlet online sale Were the Lucky Ones: outlet sale A Novel sale

We outlet online sale Were the Lucky Ones: outlet sale A Novel sale

We outlet online sale Were the Lucky Ones: outlet sale A Novel sale

We outlet online sale Were the Lucky Ones: outlet sale A Novel sale

We outlet online sale Were the Lucky Ones: outlet sale A Novel sale

We outlet online sale Were the Lucky Ones: outlet sale A Novel sale

We outlet online sale Were the Lucky Ones: outlet sale A Novel sale

We outlet online sale Were the Lucky Ones: outlet sale A Novel sale

We outlet online sale Were the Lucky Ones: outlet sale A Novel sale

We outlet online sale Were the Lucky Ones: outlet sale A Novel sale

We outlet online sale Were the Lucky Ones: outlet sale A Novel sale

We outlet online sale Were the Lucky Ones: outlet sale A Novel sale

We outlet online sale Were the Lucky Ones: outlet sale A Novel sale

We outlet online sale Were the Lucky Ones: outlet sale A Novel sale

We outlet online sale Were the Lucky Ones: outlet sale A Novel sale

We outlet online sale Were the Lucky Ones: outlet sale A Novel sale

We outlet online sale Were the Lucky Ones: outlet sale A Novel sale

We outlet online sale Were the Lucky Ones: outlet sale A Novel sale

We outlet online sale Were the Lucky Ones: outlet sale A Novel sale

We outlet online sale Were the Lucky Ones: outlet sale A Novel sale

We outlet online sale Were the Lucky Ones: outlet sale A Novel sale

We outlet online sale Were the Lucky Ones: outlet sale A Novel sale

We outlet online sale Were the Lucky Ones: outlet sale A Novel sale

We outlet online sale Were the Lucky Ones: outlet sale A Novel sale

We outlet online sale Were the Lucky Ones: outlet sale A Novel sale

We outlet online sale Were the Lucky Ones: outlet sale A Novel sale

We outlet online sale Were the Lucky Ones: outlet sale A Novel sale

We outlet online sale Were the Lucky Ones: outlet sale A Novel sale

We outlet online sale Were the Lucky Ones: outlet sale A Novel sale