A book you simply won’t want to put down: Review by Phil Brody

Maria Altman pictured here in front of Gustav Klimt’s Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer which was stolen from Maria’s family by the Nazis during World War II. It was returned to her in 2006 after she took her case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. The painting was later sold for $135 million.

The Accidental Caregiver: How I Met, Loved, and Lost Legendary Holocaust Refugee Maria Altman by Gregor Collins has been causing quite a stir for what on the surface seems like a prosaic topic. But this is no ordinary account of caregiving. Instead, it is an incredible touching and intimate exploration of what love and age mean in today’s world as well as a riveting account of the life of the great Maria Altmann.

Phil Brody, author of the Holden Age of Hollywood, winner of the “Best New Fiction” category in the USA Book News Awards, did not think The Accidental Caregiver would resonate with him. But he started reading it anyway, and he was “surprised.”

Here’s Phil’s short, but convincing review:

“This book surprised me. Truth told, I did not think a story involving a caregiver, Holocaust survivor, and their unlikely bond would resonate with me. However, while speeding along in my rather self-involved LA-based life, I was pleasantly sideswiped, and for several hours a day, over a few days, I was immersed in this honest, heartfelt, and poignant story. And I’m thankful for that. I needed that.

Long story short, I loved the book and would recommend it to anyone. Trust me, it’s not what you think.

The author has succeeded on so many levels in relating this extremely personal story to the reader. You’re drawn in from the get-go, and the book, for me, surprisingly turned into a page-turner. For that, I credit the writing, which takes the reader by the hand and leads them through a very intimate story with adept storytelling skills and an addictive sense of humor. It tugs the heartstrings often, and then yanks them at just the right time — but that’s what great writers do and do well.

The dialogue was also great. In fact, several lines made me jealous as a writer of fiction. I know the words and exchanges were real and came from a real people, but I found myself wishing I had penned them. I still do. One I’ll never forget involves the comment, “Fish f*** in it.” I’ll say no more and will let you discover the situation surrounding that quote.

And you should discover it. You should take a chance on this book. I noticed the bevy of five-star reviews after I finished reading The Accidental Caregiver, and I was glad to see them. They are well deserved. And now I add mine to mix.”

Editor’s note: Phil Brody’s review was originally published on Goodreads, which is the world’s largest site for readers and book recommendations and highly recommended by Unfrazzle.

Maria Altman died on February 7, 2011 at the age of 94. The obituary published by The New York Times captures much of her story.

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