Frida: My Long-lost Grandmother’s War – Nina Grünfeld

Norwegian title: Frida: Min ukjente farmors krig

Hello book enthusiasts!

It’s a strange thing time. After starting working full time you realize that the day just has 24 hours and that the time luxury you had as a student really was a luxury. This is a known concept to many so I won’t blabber on about that. Let’s just say that time and motivation haven’t been here recently which is rather sad since I’ve read so many books that I really want to review! The synopsis is borrowed from Goodreads and translated by me:

The first time Frida Grünfeld was ever registered in the police register was in the spring of 1931. She was Jewish, a prostitute, suspected of espionage, and pregnant.

Frida was born in Austria-Hungary in 1908 and spent her life travelling in Central Europe. She gave birth to a son, Berthold, but gave him up for adoption when he was just a week old. Berthold later came to Norway as a refugee and became one of Norway’s most famous psychiatrists. What happened to Frida and her life? In this book, Nina F. Grünfeld travels back to Central Europe to look for her grandmother. Through interrogations, court documents, and archives she finds small traces and snippets of information revealing how the net tightened around her grandmother. The government was out to get people like Frida and then the Nazis came to power.

Frida’s history is ground shaking story about belonging, wanting, and loss.

Every once in a while you meet a story like Frida’s. There was just something about this story that pulled me in and kept me locked away for two days because that’s what it took. Time just flew with this book and boom it was finished. I’ve lost count of how many books I’ve read from this time period and this one really stood out. Frida’s story uncovers a reasonably unknown field which in my experience hasn’t been given much attention in the aftermath of the war. I find this to be quite sad since a war interrupts the life of everyone in its close and far proximity. I feel that the group Frida belonged to most often is mentioned as a peripheral group in relation to the war. Of all wars actually which makes me wonder even more about what their lives actually were like? This story provides us with one perspective and I hope more authors will pick up their pens and investigate this topic closer so we can learn even more. This might be even more relevant today with war raging in Europe and war leaves a path of destruction wherever it passes.

Grünfeld has combined the past and present in this story in a seamless manner and each page makes you want to keep on reading. You have to know what happened to Frida as the story unfolds when the story goes back to the present time and then you learn more about Frida during the present time as well and this urge to figure out what happens wasn’t satisfied for me until I actually knew what became of Frida. This is in many ways a sad story and it sounds very weird to say it but I believe it is important that later generations are faced with stories like this. We hear a lot of sunshine stories with happy endings and they are very important too but lives like Fridas were as much a reality during the war. I haven’t read a whole lot of stories like Frida’s and I really appreciate that Grünfeld has written this book bringing a perspective into the history of World War 2.

This is a very wholesome reading experience. Since this is a story based on reality the characters portray their real-life self. I like the way and language Grünfeld has used to portray herself and Frida. The language makes it easy, or easier, for the reader to relate to the characters and what they’re experiencing each in their own timeline. There is further a flow to the writing which, in addition to the story, pulls you in and keeps you glued to the pages. It’s been a while since I read a book over two days. I only stopped reading when I slept or was at work.

The short recommendation: Buy it, read it, love it! This is the WW2 story you don’t want to miss out on. Grünfeld has written a beautiful and poignant book about a fairly unknown side of the war which should be brought to light. Read Frida’s story and remember it.

Published: 2020

Genre: Nonfiction

Theme: World war 2, Europe, history

– The Book Reader

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