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Critical Praise

“A subtle, emotionally layered novel about the ways art and other objects of beauty can make tangible the invisible, undocumented moments in our lives, the portion of experience that exists without an audience but must be preserved if we are to remain whole.”

—New York Times Book Review


—Town & Country

“Umansky’s richly textured and peopled novel tells an emotionally and historically complicated story with so much skill and confidence it’s hard to believe it’s her first.”

—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“The Kindertransport, the recovery of Nazi-looted art, family ties, and adjustments to great Umansky’s first novel, they’re brought together in an original and tremendously moving way.... [Umansky] sensitively addresses the complicated issue of survivor’s guilt and leaves readers with a sense of hope.”

—Booklist (starred review)

“Umansky’s multilayered novel asks the big questions --- who are we and who are the people we love? What can we, and what should we, forgive? How does history write itself on our lives and our society? --- with compassion, tenderness, and a deft touch.”

—Hanya Yanagihara, author of A LITTLE LIFE

“The restitution of art works stolen by the Nazis provides the background for this début novel.... Umansky shrewdly avoids letting the issue of stolen art crowd out other aspects of the story, to which she gives a feminist tilt.”

—The New Yorker

“A beautiful and complex story...[that] questions who art really belongs to, and demonstrates how even one work of art can inform and transform lives irreversibly.... This novel is elegant, engaging, and smart.”


“Two women generations apart, beautifully drawn... [Umansky] reminds us of the rape of art by the Nazis, placing her emphasis on a Chaim Soutine painting... We mourn its loss through the eyes of the two women. So here is a novel where history is important and writing is excellent.”

—Fort Wayne News Sentinel

“Ellen Umansky is an absurdly gifted writer, and her masterful debut is so smart, so compelling, so emotionally and intellectually and morally complex, it will make you see the world in a completely different way. I loved, loved, loved this book.”

—Joanna Rakoff, internationally bestselling author of MY SALINGER YEAR