Living and the Lost

by Ellen Feldman

Book, 2021



Call number




Griffin (2021), 352 pages


From the author of Paris Never Leaves You, Ellen Feldman's The Living and the Lost is a gripping story of a young German Jewish woman who returns to Allied Occupied Berlin from America to face the past and unexpected future "A deeply satisfying and truly adult novel." --Margot Livesey, New York Times best-selling author of The Flight of Gemma Hardy Millie (Meike) Mosbach and her brother David, manage to escape to the States just before Kristallnacht, leaving their parents and little sister in Berlin. Millie attends Bryn Mawr on a special scholarship for non-Aryan German girls and graduates to a magazine job in Philadelphia. David enlists in the army and is eventually posted to the top-secret Camp Ritchie in Maryland, which trains German-speaking men for intelligence work. Now they are both back in their former hometown, haunted by ghosts and hoping against hope to find their family. Millie, works in the office responsible for rooting out the most dedicated Nazis from publishing; she is consumed with rage at her former country and its citizens, though she is finding it more difficult to hate in proximity. David works trying to help displaced persons build new lives, while hiding his more radical nighttime activities from his sister. Like most of their German-born American colleagues, they suffer from conflicts of rage and guilt at their own good fortune, except for Millie's boss, Major Harry Sutton, who seems much too eager to be fair to the Germans. Living and working in bombed-out Berlin, a latter day Wild West where drunken soldiers brawl; the desperate prey on the unsuspecting; spies ply their trade; werewolves, as unrepentant Nazis were called, scheme to rise again; black markets thrive, and forbidden fraternization is rampant, Millie must come to terms with a decision she made as a girl in a moment of crisis, and with the enigmatic sometimes infuriating Major Sutton who is mysteriously understanding of her demons. Atmospheric and page-turning, The Living and the Lost is a story of love, survival, and forgiveness of others and of self.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member CassiesBooksReader
The Living and the Lost by Ellen Feldman is a Historical Novel of the time prior to the war, during World War II and the PostWar era of the rebuilding of Germany. A heart wrenching story of loss and hope for those who survived the destruction of lives, families, homes and country. Family members
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separated and children lost. Living without the basic necessities of food, shelter, clothing and community. How do you reconstruct an entire society? What are the building blocks? A must read for anyone who wants or needs to learn about the Holocaust, World War II, and the effects on all of us.
I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. I appreciate the opportunity and thank the author and publisher for allowing me to read, enjoy and review this book. 5 Stars
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LibraryThing member mzonderm
As teenagers, Meike and her brother David were sent to America from Germany in the aftermath of Kristallnacht. Their parents and younger sister Sarah stayed behind. Meike, who Americanizes her name to Millie, spends WWII at Bryn Mawr, and then as an editor at a magazine. David enlists as soon as he
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turns 18. Both go back to Berlin during the occupation, both to help in various official and unofficial capacities, and to try to make sense of what happened to their family, their city, and their country.

The reader's first question will be: what happened to the rest of the family? The answer, and Meike's journey to come to terms with it, will haunt readers beyond the last page. The second question may well be: can Germany and the German people ever recover? History more or less tells us the answer to that question, but Feldman's exploration of the immediate aftermath of the war will also not soon be forgotten by readers.

Feldman has put all the pieces together to form a worthwhile addition to the genre. She has a light touch on this weighty topic, but does not shy from addressing the mass hatred and prejudice on both the German and American side. She brings her scenes and characters to life with heartwrenching feeling. No reader will escape this book unscathed, and yet it is not so emotional as to get in the way of being able to process the narrative and really think about the larger story.
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LibraryThing member fredreeca
Millie has returned to her native Germany after WWII. She is here to do a job for the government but she has a hidden agenda. She is hoping to find out what happened to her parents and her little sister.

Millie is amazed at the level of depravity which is rampant and accepted in this post war
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Germany. She struggles with her anger and her guilt throughout this novel. Her guilt is a unique situation for the reader…you have to read this to find out!

There have been tons of WWII books lately. So, to find one which has a different take is tough. This one hits that mark. You usually do not have a book about the aftermath. This one covers this and more! The struggle to find out about your loved ones, to find a place to live, and the survivors guilt is brought to life in the novel. Add in the great characters and you have a very good novel!

Need a story you won’t soon forget…THIS IS IT! Grab your copy today!

I received this novel from the publisher for a honest review.
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LibraryThing member EllenH
This novel captures a part of WWII that we haven't seen much about in historical fiction, and Ms Feldman does a wonderful job of capturing that time after the war in Berlin. It explores the survivors shame and guilt for surviving, anger at each other for what each side did, and the ability to
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LibraryThing member wagner.sarah35
Something about Ellen Feldman's writing and choice of theme really speaks to me. I read quite a bit of historical fiction set in the 1940s, but this book, like Feldman's Paris Never Leaves You, strikes a more gritty tone. The heroine Millie Mosbach is consumed with survivor's guilt - she and her
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brother were able to escape Nazi Germany but the rest of her family didn't make it. Now Millie is back in Berlin, using her fluency in German to help the American military determine who was really a Nazi and who wasn't. The officer she works with, Harry Sutton, has his own demons and the two develop a tense but passionate relationship at they struggle with the scars the war left behind. I appreciated the focus of this book on what happened in Germany after WWII ended and the effort to explore the nuances and complexities of that time.
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LibraryThing member carole888fort
The Living and the Lost by Ellen Feldman is the story of one Jewish family in Berlin during and after the Second World War. The Mosbachs are the parents of three children: Meike, David and Sarah. For reasons beyond their control, the family is torn apart. The parents and young Sarah were left
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behind and Meike and David travelled safely to the U.S. where someone sheltered and took care of them to adulthood. The novel moves from the war years to the return of David and Meike to Berlin as adults to help return the devastated city to its prewar glory by seeking out hidden Nazis and helping Jews to travel to safety. This will take its toll on the siblings. I have read several books about the holocaust but this one is different. Ellen Feldman has written a book that puts the reader on the streets of Berlin at the worst time and she also delves into the emotions and realities of the victims but also of the survivors. This is my second book by this author and I was not disappointed. The prose is beautiful and at times achingly unbearable. The flawed and authentic characters take us to some of the worst times in history. This is a difficult read but it is well worth spending time on its pages. Highly recommended. Thank you to St. Martin’s Press, NetGalley and the author for the e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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Original language


Physical description

352 p.; 8.21 inches


1250821819 / 9781250821812
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