Heirlooms: Stories

Written by Rachel Hall
Review by Jackie Drohan

This volume is a treasure box of interconnected short stories tracking a saga of a Jewish family’s survival, starting in Holocaust-era France. Beginning in 1939 St. Malo, we meet young Lise, devoted to the raising and protection of the baby of her dead sister-in-law.  She makes her way across and out of France’s occupied zone, facing the horrors and fear of wartime Europe. Hall’s writing style is minimalist perfection, each chapter a self-contained jewel. She manages to project intense sympathy without a hint of sentimentalism, and her multi-perspective sense of pathos is rare for the genre. Even Nazi officers and abusive French police are given multiple dimensions and some level of human frailty, which only makes the facts of wartime life more starkly real. As the settings progress to Israel and America, the story resonates deeply with the modern refugee experience and seems all the more fresh and timely. Definitely a welcome and beautiful voice in wartime historical fiction. Enthusiastically recommended.