Julie Metz is the brilliant designer responsible for Hard Cider’s beautiful cover, and for many years, that is how I’ve known her… for her artistic talent on behalf of lucky authors at She Writes Press. Who knew that she is also a brilliant writer. (Well clearly a lot of other people knew!) . When I heard about Eva and Eve, her new memoir, and learned it was about Julie’s search for her mother’s lost childhood in Vienna and the impact on her, of WWII, I knew we had a lot more in common than our professional relationship.
I began to listen to the audiobook version and was entranced immediately. I highly recommend this book, and have excerpted below my “fan” letter to Julie, and my review is below.
Prior to listening to this book, my association with you has been entirely through your brilliant book cover design for She Writes Press, but when I read the announcement of Eva and Eve, I realized that you are also an accomplished author, and the topic of the book was of particular interest to me.
I loved Eva and Eve, particularly in recognition of so much overlap in our experience as first generation Americans with parents who escaped Europe. Even in Darkness, my first book with She Writes Press, tells the story, albeit in novel form, that has many parallels With Eva and Eve..
Our mothers, our experiences as daughters of those mothers, our fascination with the immigration experience of our families, and for me personally, your analysis of the inheritance of trauma in next generations, parallels so closely many of my own thoughts and writing inspirations. My parents’ journeys each emigrating as children from Germany, with visa, affidavit, and American Embassy experiences as dramatic as your grandfather’s rose up as I read your book.
Both my grandfathers were World War I veterans of the German army. My great aunt, the only one of my maternal grandfather’s siblings who did not get out of Germany, had a story of survival that inspired me early and often in my own life. The themes of resilience, of the tension between the strong identification with the country of their births and their successful lIves in America, and the victory of love and devotion over pain and suffering mirror many circumstances of your family.
In listening to Eva and Eve, as a writer, I felt lavished with beautiful imagery and a fascinating combination of fact- based research and imagined circumstances that is the sign of a great memoir.
I have traveled to my family’s places of origin in Germany and Austria. I have researched at the Leo Baeck Institute, I translated nearly 100 letters from my great aunt to her children who had been sent to Palestine and England, I interviewed my parents, my grandparents, my great aunt, the Catholic priest she lived with, her children’s relatives in Israel and England, and as you described so well the research alone was transformational. Writing the book was the story of my heart, as Eva and Eve seems to be for you.
With great admiration and thanks for this wonderful work,
Julie Metz’s Eva and Eve: A Search for My Mother's Lost Childhood and What a War Left Behind is an impactful revelation of the deeply researched and richly imagined lives of her mother’s family, in 20th century Vienna and then their escape to the US and reestablishment as immigrants. Lavished with beautiful imagery, this fascinating memoir soberly plumbs the trauma of cultured, comfortable lives uprooted by the Nazis and the legacy of that trauma in the immigrant world of post-war New York. Any family with a similar history will recognize the ripple effect of the secrets, the loss, the stoicism and the persistence of children who lived through those times into following generations. Metz explores and reveals those effects in her mother, herself and her relationship with her own daughter as well as in the prism through which she sees our current political and social climate. A stunning story, beautifully told. Bonus- the excellent audiobook narration of Rebecca Lowman