Send For Me by Lauren Fox is published with Two Roads (John Murray Press) and is described as ‘a novel of dazzling emotional richness that is based on letters from Lauren Fox’s own family, an epic and intimate exploration of mothers and daughters, duty and obligation, hope and forgiveness.’
What attracted me toSend For Me was when I heard that Lauren Fox’s inspiration was her own family’s story and a box of letters she found written by her great-grandmother, Frieda, between 1938 and 1941. Lauren Fox’s grandmother, Ilse, had left Germany in 1938 with Lauren Fox’s mother. They settled in Milwaukee and reared their family there. Over the years Lauren Fox knew that there was a story to be told but her grandmother chose to keep the early part of her life in Germany private. On her death, following the discovery of the letters, Lauren knew she wanted to write about her family’s past but with insufficient details, it was soon apparent that a memoir was not an option. Instead she decided to write a novel using her great-grandmother’s letters woven throughout the chapters. This was how she could pay tribute to her past, her history.
‘After my grandparents died, I, like Clare, found a box of my grandmother’s letters in my parents’ basement. They were written by my great-grandmother as she and my great-grandfather tried to leave Germany. I had the letters translated and learned a revelatory story about my family – but an incomplete one. The letters answered some questions about the nature of trauma and the strength of love in my family, but they raised more questions for me, too. After sitting with it for years, I finally figured out that, in my hands, it was meant to be a novel, and that I would use the letters to inform and deepen the story.’
– Lauren Fox
Send For Me is the story of four generations of women, Klara, Annelise, Ruthie and Clare. As anti-semitic acts of violence rage through Germany, Annelise and her husband Walter depart for America with their baby daughter, Ruthie, leaving behind Annelise’s mother, Klara, and father, Julius. They start a new life in America, but with the shadow of what they have left behind a constant companion. The plan was to gather the necessary paperwork to get Klara and Julius out of Germany as fast as possible, away from the clutches of the Nazi regime but this proved to be a bigger challenge than they could ever have anticipated.
Klara’s great-granddaughter, Clare discovers a box of letters when tidying out her grandmother’s house. With each letter her family’s past and the sacrifices made are slowly revealed. Clare is trying to straighten out her own life and the letters provide some balance as she figures out her own future.
Send For Me brings the past and present alive for the reader as we are transported back to the streets of Feldenheim, Germany, in the 1930s, to the bakery of Annelise, Klara and Julius, a Jewish family with a popular and successful business. Two generations later and we are in the American Midwest with Ruthie’s daughter Clare trying to make sense of her life.
Exploring the theme of that most special bond between mother and daughter, Send For Me is laced with an underlying sadness, as the voice of one fades out with another getting stronger. A very poignant story, strengthened by the words of Lauren Fox’s great-grandmother, Send for Me is a thought-provoking read, a heartrending intergenerational tale.
(c) Swirl and Thread
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