THE RESCUE OF MEMORY by Cheryl Pearl Sucher


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 Sucher debuts with a subtly affecting portrait of a young woman coming to terms with the reverberations of the Holocaust in her family. Rachel Wallfisch, a film producer and the daughter of Holocaust survivors, is soon to marry kind, wealthy Girard Stone. But when her mother's sister--beloved and stoical Tante Tsenyah, another victim of the camps--dies while she's in the midst of wedding preparations, Rachel is moved to think deeply about the past before she gets on with her own life. For Rachel, family history is made tangible by her father's old photographs and home movies--a collection of stories and images that first sparked her interest in film. As Rachel reflects on her first acquaintance with Aunt Tsenyah during her mother's bout with a mysterious neurological illness, she's haunted by thoughts of the events that followed: her mother's miraculous recovery and her later death in a car accident; the marriage and divorce of her rebellious older sister Emily, now a law student with three children; Rachel's own adolescent battles with her father over clothes, weight, and grades; and the dissolution of her relationship with Denny O'Halloran, the Irish Protestant she fell in love with--despite her father's disapproval--while studying film in England. She recounts, too, what she's learned over the years about her parents' early lives in Poland, especially the story of her father, who saw his mother and sister sent to their deaths and then, after the war, became close to a tough, prickly aunt he'd never met before. Throughout, Sucher portrays the effects of the Holocaust on Rachel's family--in their attitudes toward illness and death, in their feelings about Israel, and in the fierce, complicated love they feel for each other. Though it lacks a unified plot, the disjointed structure of this first novel seems appropriate to the piecemeal work of remembering, and Sucher's simple, graceful prose helps to make Rachel's story memorable and moving.

Pub Date: Aug. 7th, 1997
ISBN: 0-684-81462-5
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Scribner
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 1997