Quick Take: The Fortunate Ones by Ellen Umansky

The Fortunate Ones by Ellen Umansky follows the trail of, and lives of those touched by, a piece of Nazi-looted art.

The characters are strong, especially Lizzie and Rose. Most of the supporting characters are obviously weaker – Lizzie’s sister Sarah and her friend Max are more fully developed than Rose’s brother Gerhard. Umansky really shines in fleshing out the relationship between Rose and Lizzie – from tentative to a strong bond.

The plot is intriguing with the premise of Lizzie and Rose trying to determine the fate of Soutine’s painting. The plot is especially intriguing as Rose looks at the painting as a link to her past and Lizzie looks at it as a comforting reminder of gentler times.

A decent and quick read.


The Fortunate Ones Book Cover The Fortunate Ones
Ellen Umansky
William Morrow
February 14, 2017

It is 1939 in Vienna, and as the specter of war darkens Europe, Rose Zimmer’s parents are desperate. Unable to get out of Austria, they manage to secure passage for their young daughter on a kindertransport, and send her to live with strangers in England.

Six years later, the war finally over, a grief-stricken Rose attempts to build a life for herself. Alone in London, devastated, she cannot help but try to search out one piece of her childhood: the Chaim Soutine painting her mother had cherished.

Many years later, the painting finds its way to America. In modern-day Los Angeles, Lizzie Goldstein has returned home for her father’s funeral. Newly single and unsure of her path, she also carries a burden of guilt that cannot be displaced. Years ago, as a teenager, Lizzie threw a party at her father’s house with unexpected but far-reaching consequences. The Soutine painting that she loved and had provided lasting comfort to her after her own mother had died was stolen, and has never been recovered.

This painting will bring Lizzie and Rose together and ignite an unexpected friendship, eventually revealing long-held secrets that hold painful truths. Spanning decades and unfolding in crystalline, atmospheric prose, The Fortunate Ones is a haunting story of longing, devastation, and forgiveness, and a deep examination of the bonds and desires that map our private histories.

About the author

Jeff Grim

Jeff Grim has been a reader all of his life. He has had a particular interest in military history, any war at any time. His fascination with military history has brought him to an interest in historical fiction where the history comes alive with fictitious heroes and villains. Recently, Jeff has become interested in historical mysteries set in various time periods.

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