Reviews of Eva and Eve

Jewish Book Council logo“At first, Metz feeds us tea­spoons of his­to­ry, but soon the force of the sto­ry itself plunges us into the vio­lent past with a cold splash. The book is ten­der­ly writ­ten, par­tic­u­lar­ly when we are so drawn in that it can feel like we have wan­dered into a diary, com­plete with details about the weath­er and the bloom of nature as the scenes unfold. . . . In a way, her mother’s death gave her new life. The research jour­ney it pro­pelled her on was long, ardu­ous, and inter­mit­tent, alter­nat­ing among search, serendip­i­ty, and suc­cess. We fol­low the nar­ra­tive with a good deal of hope that she will find out not only the answers to her ques­tions but the peace that comes with ful­ly know­ing and accept­ing the past. Clear­ly, the Holo­caust has left a sig­nif­i­cant stamp on Metz and her world­view, and in the end the fact that she now rec­og­nizes its force is the crown­ing achieve­ment of the book.”

—Linda F. Burghardt, Jewish Book Council. Read the entire review.

“One of the most engrossing, educational, emotional and yet effortless reads of the year so far, Eva and Eve is a stellar work of nonfiction. Weaving together multiple generations, Julie introduces us to her family and paints a vivid picture of Jewish life in Vienna prior to 1940. . . . this book is simply impossible to forget.”

—Zibby Owens, Moms Don’t Have Time to Read Books, for Good Morning America

“Julie Metz is a beautiful writer. In Eva and Eve she masterfully weaves the present with the past, the sweep of history with the deeply personal. She takes us along as she uncovers her mother’s miraculous escape from Vienna and retraces her family’s footsteps as they flee the Nazis and remake their lives as refugees. This is not just a voyage of personal discovery and a daughter’s quest to understand her mother but an evocative, heart-wrenching book about love, family and resilience.”

— Ariana Neumann, author of When Time Stopped

“Metz’s memoir is an elegant, evocative construction of chilling historical details, travelogue-style descriptions of present-day Vienna and Trieste, and imagined vintage vignettes that give texture and depth to the distinctive experiences of her mother and grandparents. Like many Holocaust-themed retrospectives, the Singer family’s story simultaneously speaks to the tales of millions of others caught in the horrors of World War II, most of whom could not obtain the lifesaving visas. The author also skillfully connects the inflamed passions of the 1930s and ’40s with the reemergence of the incendiary, xenophobic American White nationalist rhetoric and violence of today. . . . A gripping and intimate wartime account with piercing contemporary relevance.”

Kirkus Reviews

Eva and Eve, with the comprehensive subtitle A Search for My Mother’s Lost Childhood and What a War Left Behind, is an enveloping, heartbreaking memoir. It is also much more, functioning with thoroughness and ease as a history lesson, a detective story, a travelogue, a saga of understanding and forgiveness, and ultimately, a cautionary tale for our times and all times.”

—Lisa Rojany, Publisher and Editor in Chief, New York Journal of Books. Read the entire review.

“Like many of us first generation American Jews, Julie Metz has a family story of persecution and escape from the old country. And like most of us, she didn’t ask enough questions when she could. But once she started digging, she didn’t stop, and wrote a story with all the tools and skills of historian, detective, scientist, memoirist, novelist, and all the inherited grief of a daughter and granddaughter who carries the loss in her bones.”

—Enid Futterman, Read the entire review.

Eva and Eve maps a wide arc, pulling a Jewish family’s past in wartime Vienna into the present era with vivid and dramatic detail.  The story of political repression, terror and dissolution; then arrival and retrieval in a new country, is full of astonishing and unlikely twists of fate, showing again that individual destiny may be the greatest mystery of all.   Metz’s journey to recover the past offers a model for connection and self-understanding – as well as a testament to the strengths of an America that is just and fair to all.”

—Dani Shapiro, author of Inheritance, A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love

“In this beautifully woven personal history, Julie Metz plumbs how her mother’s flight from Nazi-occupied Vienna shaped not only the woman who left, but the women who came after. An essential feminist memoir of women’s lives, Eva and Eve explores how the trauma of demagoguery and losing one’s nation reverberates through generations and how small, even random acts of goodness can rescue the worlds to come.”

—Sarah Wildman, author of Paper Love: Searching for the Girl My Grandfather Left Behind

“Metz’s fascination with a keepsake book she finds in her mother’s drawer send her on a mission to track down traces of a life that ended, with cancer, in 2006. She reconstructs Jewish Vienna in the 1930s, its destruction after the Anschluss, and the hardships of migration. She offers a portrait of Upper West Side Eve, an American citizen who balances her roles as wife, mother, and formidable art director at Simon & Schuster, the same house that publishes Metz’s own book.”

—Steven G. Kellman, author of Redemption: The Life of Henry Roth” (Norton), “Nimble Tongues: Studies in Literary Translingualism” (Purdue), and “Rambling Prose (Trinity). Read the entire review.

“Three generations of women – grandmother, mother, daughter – illuminate how history is lived and worlds overlap, filtered through families and passed down from one era to the next. Metz writes, with great insight, about how her mother’s escape from Nazi-occupied Vienna to New York City—full of unexpected twists and turns - has echoed through her own life and her daughter’s, down to the present moment. This journey of discovery and reclamation could hardly be more timely and resonant.”

—Adrienne Brodeur, bestselling author of Wild Game: My Mother, Her Lover, and Me

“Luck. The hand of God. Random acts of kindness. And unexpected goodness, from people who didn’t have to help but did. And thus a book that speaks very much to the present moment... This is a book about a girl who didn’t become a statistic in 1940 and had a fulfilling second life. Yes, and also a book with a message for us in 2021.”

—Jesse Kornbluth, for Head Butler. Read the entire review.

“The story of this moving passion project resonates today, especially in light of the newest wave of American anti-immigrant sentiment and the COVID-19 pandemic. At its heart is a daughter seeking to understand her mother, forever shaped by those terrible years.”

—Bridget Thoreson, Booklist

“Julie Metz’s Eva and Eve is a beautifully written ode to her mother who escaped the Nazis as a child in Vienna in 1940.  With an artist’s eye for detail and a detective’s tenacity, Metz brings to life four generations of her family with great sensitivity and intelligence, and offers a timely meditation on political power gone awry.”

—Helen Fremont, national bestselling author of After Long Silence and The Escape Artist

“Julie Metz has pieced together the story of her beloved late mother’s childhood in and escape from Nazi-occupied Vienna, her own place in the story they shared as mother and daughter, and what it means to go to any length to save one’s family in the face of unspeakable horror. A masterpiece that I couldn’t put down.”

—Elissa Altman, author of Motherland

“Weaving together a lyrical exploration of her maternal family history—first as persecuted Jews in Austria, then as struggling immigrants in America—with poignant meditations on her own personal growth and trauma in an era of resurgent, reactionary nationalism, Metz illustrates the persistence of old, human evils, and the inspiration we can find for our own battles in the stories of resilient forebears.”

—George Prochnik, author of The Impossible Exile: Stefan Zweig at the End of the World

“Inspired by a collection of keepsakes, Metz unearths a chapter of her mother’s hidden past, deftly navigating between two spheres: her family’s harrowing escape from the Nazis, and her own present-day world—one steeped in research and introspection, and replete with political red flags weighed against those of the Third Reich. A timely and deeply layered investigation.”

—Georgia Hunter, author of We Were the Lucky Ones

“With a historian’s scrupulous research and a novelist’s inventive power, Julie Metz has delivered a gripping and moving account of her mother’s narrow escape from the Nazis. It is an indelible story of both what was gained and what was lost in the exodus from Vienna to New York.”

—Prof. Samuel G. Freedman, Columbia Journalism School, author of Breaking the Line, and Who She Was

Eva and Eve is a beautiful memoir about all the ways history shapes a family.  Metz’s meditation on her mother’s escape from Nazi Vienna, and the world of her ancestors that was left behind, is  an important exploration of the past, but also a warning for the future. This is a devastating and important book, one that should be required reading.”’

—Danielle Trussoni, bestselling author of Angelology and The Ancestor

“Upon her mother Eve’s death in New York, Julie Metz embarks on a journey to the Vienna of the child Eva, who faced the terror of Nazism. We learn of the emotional connections of this middle-class family to its home and of Julie’s complicated relationships with her mother and her own daughter. Using intrepid detective work and inspired imagination, Metz immerses the reader in interwar Jewish life and culture as it intertwined with Viennese society. She skillfully weaves a poignant family history of loss, escape, and refugee life as she evokes the sights, smells, and tastes of her mother’s lost childhood.”

—Marion Kaplan, author of Hitler’s Jewish Refugees: Hope and Anxiety in Portugal (Yale, 2020)

“Interweaving past and present, blending research and imagination, Julie Metz's memoir crafts a portrait of an elusive mother with a bifurcated life. In her search for the threads of half-told stories and hidden treasures, Metz discovers an absorbingly complex family legacy. An illuminating and textured book.”

—Elizabeth Rosner, author of Survivor Café: The Legacy of Trauma and the Labyrinth of Memory

“Keeping secrets was a virtue for many in the Silent Generation and they died without ever revealing themselves to their puzzled, frustrated children. With a combination of dogged research and emotional archeology, Julie Metz has uncovered a nearly lost world, and in doing so, she has found the Viennese childhood that formed her mother’s character.”

—Mary Doria Russell, author of The Sparrow and Thread of Grace

“Julie Metz’ Eva and Eve is a touching homage to her mother who escaped the terror of Nazi Austria as a child, creating herself anew as an American in America. This is a work of startling eloquence and beauty, in its archeological excavation of four generations of a Jewish family and its literary depiction of how the broad sweep of history is threaded into the intricate drama of ordinary human lives.”

—Lan Cao, author of Family in Six Tones and Monkey Bridge

“Julie Metz’s mother, Eve, was thrust out of her own Eden, Vienna, as a young girl, narrowly escaping certain death under Hitler’s Third Reich. In this poignant memoir of intergenerational pain and recovery, past and present continually collide, each echoing into the other like timpani in an exquisite symphony.”

—Deborah Copaken, author of Shutterbabe and The Red Book

“By using historical documents, fictional conversations, imagined events, glimpses into her own relationship with her own daughter, and plenty of political commentary on the state of this country, Metz reminds us how easily history can repeat itself and how important it is to remember.”

—Jane Kinney-Denning, Chronogram. Read the entire review.

“We meet three generations of women—grandmother, mother, daughter whose lives come together. We read of her mother’s escape from Nazi-occupied Vienna to New York City and see how it had echoed through her own life through today. Metz mixes research with imagination and she brings Eva, her mother back to life as she discovers her family history. We read of the emotional connections of a middle-class family to its home and of the complicated connections that Metz shared with her mother and her own daughter. This is a family history of loss, escape, and refugee life as seen through her mother’s childhood and that was lost to her.

Here are the ways history shapes a family. As we explore the past, we find a warning for the future. We are presented with what it is to the stressful life in this country today and see its relation to Nazi Germany. It is important for us to know our pasts so that we can better understand the present. In her mother, Metz shows how a victim of circumstance did not allow her life to be dominated by what she and that she was able to rise above it.

We are pulled into the Metz’ family history, reading how they dealt with their situation and how this affected the family. We then find the same feeling as we read of the author’s present life.”

—Amos Lassen. Read the entire review.

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