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Paper Love
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Paper Love

Searching for the Girl My Grandfather Left Behind

Description

Years after her grandfather's death, journalist Sarah Wildman stumbled upon a cache of his letters in a file labeled "Correspondence: Patients A–G." What she found inside weren't dry medical histories; instead what was written opened a path into the destroyed world that was her family's prewar Vienna. One woman's letters stood out: those from Valy—Valerie Scheftel, her grandfather's lover who remained behind when he fled Europe six months after the Nazis annexed Austria. Valy's name wasn't unknown to Wildman—she had once asked her grandmother about a dark-haired young woman whose images she found in an old photo album. "She was your grandfather's true love," her grandmother said at the time and refused to answer any other questions. But with the help of the letters, Wildman started to piece together Valy's story. They revealed a woman desperate to escape and clinging to the memory of a love that defined her years of freedom.

In the course of discovering Valy's ultimate fate, Wildman was forced to reexamine the story of her grandfather's triumphant escape and how this history fit within her own life. In the process, she rescues a life seemingly lost to history.


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