Lamet offers a tender, highly observant memoir of his boyhood years in Italy during World War II.
With his Jewish mother and father, the author spent the first eight years of his life in Austria in a comfortable bourgeois atmosphere. But then the storm clouds of war forced the family to move from Vienna to Milan, Paris, Nice and San Remo, before they found the obscure sanctuary of Ospedaletto, Italy. Along the way, Lamet’s father left for Poland, and therefore plays little role in the remainder of the memoir, but his mother remains a steady force throughout. As the author writes of his days with her, he brings an authentic feel of childhood to the story, and readers will likely remember their own similar, universal joys. He touches upon activities in all manner of daily life, including woodworking, hearing Jewish singers and occasionally eating in restaurants. He also writes of attending summer camp and spending another summer on a farm, and of the kindness of a newswoman who lent him the latest comic books—all while he lived as a Jew in Europe at the wrong time in history. He draws other moments with a quieter, emotional ache: His mother finding a new man (“My parents had never kissed like that in front of me”), his family’s lack of food and the terrifying experience of seeing a uniformed German soldier. The book’s second section comprises the author’s postwar years, and although readers may enjoy finding out what happened to Lamet down the road, his life during wartime is far more gripping, whether he’s dodging bombs or learning to love poetry.
An engaging childhood memoir of World War II.
About The Author
Born in Vienna on May 27, 1930, ENRICO LAMET, whose name at birth was Lifschütz, for the first seven years of his life enjoyed the comforts of an upper middle class family. Forced to flee Austria after the annexation to Germany, the family found refuge in Italy first, then France and Italy once again.With little formal schooling during the war years, Mr. Lamet was able to graduate high school among the top of the class of 1949, after which he emigrated to the United States.Disenchanted with academic studies, Mr. Lamet entered the business world in his early twenties and eventually worked his way up to top executive position, from which he retired in the late 1980s.Prompted by friends, who had learned of his past, to write his memoirs, Eric Lamet began his work in 1991 and after a total of twenty-six drafts completed it in 2003.The book has been published twice in the US and once in Italy, by the publisher of Schindler’s List. The American titles are: A GIFT FROM THE ENEMY and A CHILD AL CONFINO.Mister Lamet received an honorary citizenship from the Italian town in which his story takes place.