The Light After the War

Written by Anita Abriel
Review by Helen Piper

Inspired by her mother’s story of survival during the Holocaust, Anita Abriel relates the tale of two young women trying to carve out a new life for themselves in a post-war world. In 1946, Vera Frankel travels to Naples, Italy with her best friend, Edith Ban. The two Hungarian women miraculously evaded the Nazis, breaking free before their train reached Auschwitz, taking refuge in the Austrian countryside. Initially, they try to set up a life for themselves in Naples, but unexpected events make them leave Italy for Ellis Island, where they are rejected. After this, they end up in Caracas, Venezuela. Edith decides to pursue her dream of becoming a fashion designer and Vera starts dating a complicated man, whilst grappling with their experiences during the war.

Abriel has created a moving story about survival and the power of hope. Her language is vivid and evocative, filled with rich visual descriptions. The plot moves swiftly along in the main protagonists’ moving quest for a better life. Although the characters’ opaque motivations make the novel occasionally hard to follow, it is nevertheless an inspiring tale of female friendship and a very enjoyable read. I highly recommend this book.