The Oriental Wife
Louise and Rolf were among the lucky Jews who left Nazi Germany before it was too late. And with Rolf’s connections and tireless work for German refugees, they were even able to get out Louise’s parents and Rolf’s mother and bring them to America. As the older generation wept over the destruction of their lives and the loss of loved ones in Germany, Louise and Rolf embraced America. And America seemed to embrace Louise and Rolf back until a debilitating illness reminded them that the sorrows of the Old World could follow them across the ocean. Feeling betrayed by American promises of freedom and prosperity, Rolf and Louise must choose between spending the rest of their lives dutifully hopeless or selfishly content.
Though depressing at times, this story is a fascinating character study of how people cope with both tragedy and success. I love how Toynton’s characters grow and change, some becoming older, wiser versions of their young selves, and others changing so completely they are hardly recognizable from the refugees who arrived in America in the 1930s.