Book review: The Lost Family

I enjoyed this novel that spans three decades, told through the voices of three members of the same family.

Peter Rashkin is the elegant, successful and enigmatic restauranteur of 1960s’ New York. The A-list crowd flocks to his Manhattan eatery, Masha’s, as much for his sophisticated European menu as for the tragic and mysterious aura surrounding him. As a young man in Berlin, Peter escaped tragedy during the Holocaust, but lives with guilt for not having been able to save his wife and daughters.

“… every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way”

June Bouquet arrives in New York from Minnesota, with hopes of becoming a model. As she achieves her dreams, she meets Peter and fulfills her ambitions in marrying him. But is being protected and cared for really all there is, especially as social mores are changing so rapidly? We observe their marriage through June’s eyes in the 1970s.

In the 1980s, we once again follow the Rashkin family, this time through the perspective of their teenage daughter, Elsbeth. Alienated from her gorgeous but distant mother and work-obsessed father, Elsbeth seeks approbation from an artist with questionable motives.

This novel observes family life through three different perspectives, spanning three decades. I liked the fact that, as a reader, I felt privy to more information about each of these characters than the family members living side by side, in the same house, on a daily basis. I enjoyed the well-developed characters adjusting to shifting times. A beautiful and complicated family portrait.

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