Rachel and Aleks, by Sylvia Smoller
Review excerpts and endorsements
In “Rachel and Aleks,” author Sylvia Smoller beautifully weaves a tale of family, betrayal, independence and love.
Based on real events, this sweeping historical novel shares the story of a couple caught in the momentous upheavals of World War II, their destinies driven by history and by the force of their characters. “Smoller’s impressive debut begins in the remote Polish village of Zarki in 1918 and ends many lifetimes and a world away in 1941 New York City. Though safe in America, Rachel’s fractured sense of self gains new resolve as she attempts to make her way as a businesswoman in New York City: “ ‘What are we, Aleks?’ she said angrily. ‘Poles, Jews, Americans? We’re a little of everything and we’re nothing. We’re refugees. Well, I’m going to stop being a refugee.’ ” Smoller’s detailed, engaging portrait of both the period and Rachel’s emotional maturation aptly demonstrates how extreme forces can mold—even fortify—a life.”— Kirkus Discoveries
BookReview.com(Madison, WI United States)
……..An idealist seeking a new way of life, Rachel Jonish finds it when she falls in love with political columnist Aleks Mischler. The two marry and settle into family life in Warsaw, when the hostility of Nazi Germany forces them to flee across Russia to Japan and eventually America. As order is continually stripped away, Rachel's unifying efforts are strained by her affair with a textile magnate and concern over family left behind. ….The reader is given an exceptional look at Poland between wars, ranging from a collective village wedding to the bustling streets of Warsaw. Rachel's interest in the world is contagious, and Smoller adeptly shows the building tension in Jewish communities…….. Growth through adversity is the focus...
Deborah R. Rubenfeld Reader
Rachel and Aleks is gorgeous reading. …… From page one to the last, I was spellbound.
"The other" Dr. J.(New York City) Professional non-fiction writer
Love, war and remembrance.
What Herman Wouk did on the grand scale in "War and Remembrance," Dr. Smoller has done on the intimate scale in "Rachel and Aleks." This is a novel about the post-World War I Jews in Poland before they were wiped out in World War II, about Poland between the wars for them, about the Nazi horror, about escape and a miraculous survival, about rebirth in the United States. It is also about love, family, adventure, coming of age, all written in a style that is at once energetic and gracious ………A page-turner, when one gets to the end, one is asking for more.
Judy B.(New Jersey) Reader
A First Hand Look at Pre-WWII Eastern Europe. I have read and heard about the events leading up to WWII in Poland but this page turning account made you feel as if you were living through it yourself. It describes how the unimaginable can happen in a heartbeat. …..This book was full of thought provoking insights about war, family dynamics and human nature.