Journalist Sarah Wildman was looking through her deceased grandfather's files when she came across correspondence from a woman in pre-World War II Vienna. When she asked her grandmother about the letters and photographs, the reply was that they were from "your grandfather's true love." For the next several years, Wildman researched the relationship between her grandfather Karl and Valy, his lover, who was unable to flee after the Nazi annexation of Austria. Karl Wildman, a physician, had left Vienna with a few family members in 1938 and worked hard to establish a medical practice in Massachusetts. Valerie "Valy" Scheftel, also a physician, had worked tirelessly to obtain the necessary papers required to emigrate from Nazi-occupied Austria with her mother. As the war progressed, it became increasingly difficult to obtain exit visas and Valy's frustration and fears are palpable in Paper Love. Author Wildman deftly weaves Valy's letters with information on what her life might have been like during the early days of World War II. Wildman's detailed and thorough research adds to the story after Valy's letters to Karl stop arriving in late 1941. Through the writing of Paper Love, Wildman learns more about her grandfather's life and how the Holocaust affected her family.
If you enjoy reading this memoir, you might also like Crossing the Borders of Time by Leslie Maitland and The Family: Three Journeys into the Heart of the Twentieth Century by David Laskin.
Reviewed by nw, 09/14. Other reviews by nw.