Paper Love

By Sarah Wildman,

Book cover of Paper Love: Searching for the Girl My Grandfather Left Behind

Book description

One woman’s journey to find the lost love her grandfather left behind when he fled pre-World War II Europe, and an exploration into family identity, myth, and memory.

Years after her grandfather’s death, journalist Sarah Wildman stumbled upon a cache of his letters in a file labeled “Correspondence: Patients A–G.”…

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Why read it?

3 authors picked Paper Love as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

A poignant, well-written and deeply researched non-fiction story of the author’s search for the girlfriend her grandfather had left behind in Vienna. As my family left Vienna because of the Nazi regime, and my own novel takes place in Vienna, I found Ms. Wildman’s book especially meaningful, raising the question not only of what had happened to the woman but also of how much guilt and responsibility the grandfather carried?

Years after the death of Wildman’s grandfather, she discovered a cache of letters from a woman named Valy—Valerie Scheftel—her grandfather’s lover, who remained behind when he fled Europe six months after the Nazis annexed Austria. Using the letters as a starting point, and seeking help from others, Wildman pieces together Valy’s story. It’s both a Holocaust story, the desperate effort to reconstruct the history, and a look at how a history, not exactly our own, shapes us.

In this book, Wildman recounted her years-long quest to discover what happened to her grandfather’s true love, a woman named Valy who he had to leave behind when he fled Vienna in 1938. As Wildman pieced together answers to Valy’s fate, she was forced to reconcile heartbreaking truths with long-held family lore.

From Carolyn's list on WWII family searches.

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