I first encountered Sheldon Greene when he released Prodigal Sons, I enjoyed it a great deal and moved on to this previous release Burnt Umber, a very different book on a very different subject, but again a work that was crafted by an artisan.

One of the very few perks in the reviewing business (generally they can be counted in the fingers of one hand of someone that has lost some digits to frostbite) is access to the author.

Following my review of Burnt Umber I had an interesting conversation with Sheldon Greene, he explained that their was one more book in his stable, but he had held back on it pending the outcome of the other two reviews.

Lost And Found was first published in 1978 and republished in 2004. The title is oddly fitting. Lost And Found was indeed lost and found! It was a victim of one of my wife’s attempts to restore law and order to the chaos that masquerades as our Office (AKA the living room). Lost became found this morning when I accidentally knocked over one of the more precarious piles of ‘stuff’.

Lost And Found is a very interesting read. It is a book that just draws you in, although pure fiction it reads like a biography. There are no wild plots, it just covers the life of one man and the people he knows.

Mendel Traig was a survivor of the Nazi holocaust, a Polish Jew who seemingly without any remaining family decides to start life anew in America. For no other reason than an unlikely friendship with a US serviceman that shared a love of Chess, Mendel makes his home in Bolton, Pennsylvania. There is small Jewish population in Bolton, and it is this group that forms the ‘nuts and bolts’ of Lost And Found.

As with any small community there are personal conflicts and power struggles. There are victories and losses. Most are minor, some more serious, but all entertaining to the reader.

Lost And Found is not a comedic work, but it is laden with wonderfully humorous stories. Little vignettes that just draw you into the characters. One particular chapter still has me chuckling. The Authentic Jewish Cookbook, the women in the Jewish Sisterhood decide that the release of a cookbook could be the source of some much needed funds. I won’t spoil the story, but it is without doubt one of the funniest I have read in a very long time, the ‘Punch Line’ just had me rolling in laughter. Even stranger, the story is entirely believable.

Lost And Found is not entirely based around humor, parts of it are very poignant and moving.

Mendel is by no means a rich man, in 1978 he received a letter from someone he did not even know was still alive, a cousin who following WWII had relocated to Israel. Mendel, as a survivor of the Nazi atrocities is the recipient of reparations to the tune of $75,000, however there is a catch. The money is in Israel, and must be spent in Israel. Should Mendel leave his gentle, if poor existence in Bolton for a move lavish lifestyle in a country he has never visited? Israel offers the chance to regain contact with his one remaining family member, yet Bolton is where his friends are.

I really do enjoy reading Sheldon Greene, he has a style that just pulls you in. He doesn’t write complex ‘whodunits’, he doesn’t have evil characters set on world domination, he writes about the minutia in life. He does it with such grace and style that every page is a pure joy to read.

You can order your copy of Lost And Found from Amazon by clicking the link above.

Simon Barrett

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