In his “Author’s Note” Lamet writes that while he would never want to relive his 67 months in Ospedaletto, the small mountain town to which he and his mother were deported, today, 60 years later, he cherishes the memories. Although most of the author’s extended family lived in Poland, his granduncle had emigrated to Austria, eventually establishing a posh hotel where the author’s father worked. The author and his family lived an upper middle-class life until Hitler invaded. At that point, the decision was made to walk away from everything, as if they would be gone but a day. While his father returned to Poland, where his family and two brothers lived, to wait out a visa for the United States, thanks to the initiative and ingenuity of the author’s mother they moved from Vienna to Milan, to Paris, to Nice, and to San Remo to keep one step ahead of the authorities, until finally, after Mussolini joined the Axis partners, Jews and others were deported to within Italy; to a mountainous region, many years behind the rest of the world, with its own customs, language, and morés. The adjustment was not easy, but neither was it intentionally punishing. In fact, they were given a monthly stipend by the government! The housing was primitive compared to what they were used to — especially the bathrooms and kitchens. They had to scrounge for food, try to find some type of education for the author, then a boy of twelve, and to adjust to a new dialect. They struggled, but his mother was so charming and so clever, they were blessed with new friends — both expatriates and some villagers; and his mother — with a new love. This is an interesting, entertaining, sad, fully-fleshed out memoir.
Marcia W. Posner, Ph.D., of the Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center of Nassau County, is the library and program director. An author and playwright herself, she loves reviewing for JBW and reading all the other reviews and articles in this marvelous periodical.