That's the case with the "History of Love". Its author thought that the book he wrote decades earlier was irretrievably lost. Instead, it had survived and traveled extensively, touching and changing the life of those who read it.
I especially liked the character of old Leo Gursky, drawn vividly to say the least, a touching, funny and simultaneously heartbreaking personality, who never forgot his first and only love. She had fled their native Poland during the Holocaust to go to New York and, by the time he is able to reach her, and learns that he has a son, it's too late.
On the other side of town (we're in contemporary New York), a young girl named Alma is currently reading the translation her mother is doing of the "History of Love" -a book she knew had influenced her parents' lives- hoping that by finding out the identity of the man who had requested the translation would help her mother to find love again after her husband's untimely death. She cannot yet know that the plan she has in mind will unravel an unexpected path.
Emotional twists & turns unfold for both of these main characters, old Leo and young Alma. Without knowing each other personally and unbeknownst to them, their lives and those of their loved ones are tied by the same rope.
A tender and often wrenching story about Love in all of its forms. The only reason I gave it 3 stars instead of 4 (in the absence of that "half mark" which I find could be useful), is that, at times, I had to concentrate not to mix up the various characters described, despite their obvious pertinence to the story, especially when reaching the middle of the book. A bit confusing.
On the other hand, I did appreciate the thin but strong line between past and present, with an original juxtaposition and an elegant prose. It all comes together in the end and the message is incredibly moving.