Friday, June 25, 2021

Review: Eva and Eve by Julie Metz

History is made up of people. We often look at the larger events without ever seeing the important, if smaller, details that effect the people on an intimate and personal level. But it's these details that coalesce to make the whole and in the case of the atrocities that led up to WWII and the Holocaust, it is these details that come together to show the full scope of the thing, from the macro level on down. In Eva and Eve, Julie Metz's part memoir, part biography, part history, Metz goes looking for the details that shaped her mother and in turn shaped herself.

As Julie Metz watched her mother Eve die of colon cancer in 2006, she reflected on their relationship and the way that while Metz knew the broad strokes of her mother's life, Eve, and especially her childhood, was still an enigma to her. Finding a never before seen Poesiealbum or keepsake book of her mother's from childhood, she realizes that she wants to know the whole story, the story she only knows as pieces of family lore, and how that story is a part of the larger story of Viennese Jews fleeing the homeland they loved barely in advance of Hitler's Final Solution. Metz needed to know how Viennese Eva Singer became the quintessential New Yorker Eve Metz.

Metz has done an impressive amount of research into her mother's life, using official documentation, family stories, interviews with her elderly uncles, photographs, and organizations committed to preserving the history of the war and the people who suffered so unfairly from it. When she cannot find photographic evidence, she speculates wholly believable scenes from her grandparents' and mother's lives although the scene she imagines of her grandparents' honeymoon is a bit uncomfortable and graphic. She movingly tells the story of her grandparents and her mother, their early years, the combination of knowledge and luck that kept her Jewish grandfather alive and necessary in Nazi-occupied Vienna, and the increasingly obvious need to leave Vienna for somewhere safer. In the course of this recounting, she also tells a little of the people who helped her family escape their home and of their life in America. Woven through this historical biography, Metz also weaves the larger history of the politics in Austria at the time and what Nazi-occupied Vienna was like as well as pieces of her own life, from when she was a student through her years researching of book, and throughout the decade following her mother's death. She draws parallels between the anti-immigration sentiment of the world, and specifically America, during WWII with the rising anti-immigration sentiment of the present. This is a very personal book and it definitely fills in many of the holes Metz has in understanding who her mother was and how she became that person. It is to our benefit that she allowed us to go along on the investigation with her.

For more information about Julie Metz and the book, check our her author site, follow her on Twitter or Instagram, look at the book's Goodreads page, follow the rest of the blog tour, or look at the reviews for others' thoughts and opinions on the book.

Thanks to Trish from TLC Book Tours and publisher Atria Books for sending me a copy of this book to review.

1 comment:

  1. I love that she had all of these resources to pull from. Thank you for being on this tour. Sara @ TLC Book Tours


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