THE LOST LETTER by Jillian Cantor


Publisher: Riverhead Books
Release Date: June 13, 2017
Source: Penguin’s First to Read Program
Rating: ★★★★½


A historical novel of love and survival inspired by real resistance workers during World War II Austria, and the mysterious love letter that connects generations of Jewish families. A heart-breaking, heart-warming read for fans of The Women in the Castle, Lilac Girls, and Sarah’s Key.

Austria, 1938. Kristoff is a young apprentice to a master Jewish stamp engraver. When his teacher disappears during Kristallnacht, Kristoff is forced to engrave stamps for the Germans, and simultaneously works alongside Elena, his beloved teacher’s fiery daughter, and with the Austrian resistance to send underground messages and forge papers. As he falls for Elena amidst the brutal chaos of war, Kristoff must find a way to save her, and himself.

Los Angeles, 1989. Katie Nelson is going through a divorce and while cleaning out her house and life in the aftermath, she comes across the stamp collection of her father, who recently went into a nursing home. When an appraiser, Benjamin, discovers an unusual World War II-era Austrian stamp placed on an old love letter as he goes through her dad’s collection, Katie and Benjamin are sent on a journey together that will uncover a story of passion and tragedy spanning decades and continents, behind the just fallen Berlin Wall.

A romantic, poignant and addictive novel, The Lost Letter shows the lasting power of love.


Three words: beautiful, moving, and bittersweet. This book is a unique tale of the Austrian Resistance during World War II, centering around the love story between the daughter of a Jewish stamp maker and his apprentice. THE LOST LETTER is really historical fiction within historical fiction; the story alternates between the fall of the Berlin Wall (late 80s/early 90s) and the German invasion of Austria (late 1930s).

In 1989, Katie Nelson, whose life has been upended by her divorce and caring for an ailing father, finds a curious stamp on a letter from the World War II era in her father’s extensive stamp collection. With the help of an appraiser named Benjamin, Katie is able to uncover the story behind the mysterious letter.

I enjoyed this book very much, and was intrigued by both Katie and Benjamin in 1989, and Elena and Kristoff in 1939. What secrets did the stamp and letter hold? This book was a lovely blend of mystery, romance, and history. I do love vintage stamps, and this book gave readers a look at the intricacies of stamp engraving, and how they were miniature works of art. Highly recommended!

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book through Penguin’s First to Read Program in exchange for an honest review.

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