Those Who Are Saved

Written by Alexis Landau
Review by Elisabeth Lenckos

Wealthy, educated, and attractive Vera, the heroine of Alexis Landau’s exquisite World War II novel, belongs to the select group of Russian émigré Jews fortunate to flee their adopted country of residence after the Nazi occupation of Paris. Settling in Los Angeles, Vera seemingly assimilates into the distinguished Jewish expatriate community at Pacific Palisades, dubbed ‘Weimar by the Sea,’ where she hobnobs with European artists and thinkers. Few suspect that the Parisian sophisticate is secretly unhappy, consumed with the desperate desire to be reunited with her beloved daughter Lucie, whom she left behind with her French governess, hoping the child could be safely concealed in her minder’s home village where the latter planned to wait out the war. But fate deals the rural community a cruel blow, and Lucie is moved to another hiding place, where her mother might never find her…

Estranged from her husband, Vera returns to France after the war ends in order to find Lucie, not anticipating that her search will lead her both to discover what happened to her daughter, and to Sasha, a troubled writer and ex-soldier in search of his identity, whose story of provenance turns out to be even more tragic and heartbreaking than Vera’s. Will the couple be able to build a loving, and lasting relationship on the ruins of a shared traumatic European history of persecution, displacement, suffering, and denial? Told from the perspectives of Vera, Sasha, and Lucie, Those Who Are Saved is a complex, breathtaking story about personal and artistic survival, offering a profound contemplation on exile and its devastating effects on the thinking, feeling spirit. Highly recommended.