Cover Image: The Lost Son

The Lost Son

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Member Reviews

The Lost Son is a story of a mother’s heartbreak and enduring love.  Julia and her new husband, Robert, immigrate to Queens, New York, in 1922.  Robert’s parents, embarrassed by this ill-advised marriage, gifted them tickets to America to leave Stuttgart, Germany.  The main storyline moves easily back and forth through the 1920s to 1945.  In 1927, Julia gives birth to her second son, Nicholas.  Her recovery is difficult, and the aid of a live-in nurse is needed. Suddenly, weeks-old Nicholas is taken from her—to Germany, the letter on the table says.  She races to the docks to get him back.  As the ramp to the last boat is rising, “Nein! Nein! Nein! She screamed, her voice growing jagged and hoarse.”  Nicholas is now far beyond her reach, and the reader is delivered a punch to the heart.
     The deep sorrow that shadows her life is the heart of this novel.  She is left alone to raise her older, four-year-old son, Johannes.  Her sister Lena, also in New York, is her only family.  She must rely on her even though their relationship has always been contentious.  Only in unsent letters to her deceased friend is she able to unburden herself.  A lovely, mature romance enriches the novel when a forty-year-old Julia meets Paul, and she is able to open her heart.
     As WWII is ending, the army sends Johannes to Germany for the aftermath and recovery.  Julia knows Nicholas is likely a German soldier.  Her emotions swirl inside her: fear for Johannes’ life, belief that Johannes can find his brother, dread for the fate of Nicholas, and hope… always hope.
     Avoid reading the blurb; it reveals details of Nicholas’ kidnapping that would lessen the impact of what is coming when the page is turned.  This novel, with its poignant story and vivid writing, is not to be missed.
Janice Ottersberg
Historical Novels Review, August 2022
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Such a heartbreaking story but also a story of hope.  
Many thanks to Regal House Publishing and to NetGalley for providing me with a galley in exchange for my honest opinion.
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#The Lost Son by # Stephanie Vanderslice is a heart stopping and gripping, novel. It starts in the year 1920, with Julia Kruse, a German immigrant. Her husband is a success and she's living the American dream. She has two sons, Johanne and Nicholas. Then her life is turned into a earth shattering mess. She's discovered her husband and the baby's nurse have kidnapped Nicholas, and returned to Germany..... 
Thank you for the advance copy,
#Netgalley and # Regal House Publishing
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This story was told in third person primarily from the point of view of Julia in dual timelines of  1922 and 1945 New York City, with some earlier chapters on her childhood in Germany and sometimes through letters to her former governess and friend Judy. There are additional changes to the narration later in the novel by her son Johannes in 1947 Germany with an occasional chapter narrated by her boyfriend, Paul. I found this inconsistent format didn’t work well for me.

I enjoyed the characters in this story. Julia’s frustration with Robert and his actions along with her disappointment in her sister’s inability to support her search for Nicholas was portrayed admirably. I was a little unclear on what happened between Johannes’ childhood and his going off to boot camp. Despite the fact that each chapter is carefully labeled with time and setting, I constantly felt lost in the story. 

I also needed more historical context. For example, Julia’s sister was a nurse for Bell, which I found odd. Why did Bell need nurses? Or was it common for large companies to keep medical personnel on staff in this time period? I would have liked to know more about why some German-American soldiers were separated from their training groups and sent across country to be shipped to the Pacific (like my father) and others were allowed to be on the frontlines in Germany (like Johannes in this story). Was it only the officers? Only the soldiers with the special training that Johannes had? Was it because Johannes spoke German while so many in America at the time wouldn’t let their children even learn German? 

While I found Julia’s quest for finding her missing son an interesting and emotional story, I felt the novel as a whole was missing necessary information to provide a fulfilling historical read.

Thank you to Netgalley and Regal House Publishing for the free copy provided for an honest review.
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A Mother's Hope

Heartbreaking, but uplifting a story of a mother's hope to find her baby. She never give up, yet she lives a life with her other son. It is a story of a love gone wrong and a family divided.

In 1920's New York, a young immigrant family is living a good life. Robert Kruse is a businessman working in a prominent jewelry shop. They have a young son and a beautiful apartment. Julia and Roberta are overjoyed when she finds they are expecting a second child.

The birth is a hard one and following a difficult c section surgery with complications a nurse is hired to help Julia with the new baby and with her son Johannes. This appears to be working very well and Julia is just starting to get back on her feet. On her first long walk alone with her son Johannes, Julia returns home to find the house empty, her baby son Nicholas , the nurse and her husband gone. She finds a note that Robert has fallen in love with the nurse and taken her baby son to Germany.

This story is about Julia's search for her missing son Nicholas, her life with her sister and her son Johannes. The hope she keeps alive through many life challenges, the depression and finally WWII that she will someday find Nicholas and bring him home.

It is a great story of a mother's love and her survival as an immigrant in New York raising a young son and searching for her missing son. The books was a great book with history of the period and with the trials of the young mother and how she copes with life and with her loss.

I enjoyed the story, the characters and the history of the period. It was a good story with a bittersweet ending. I would recommend this book.
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After the initial pages, I found myself not connecting with the story or characters, so I decided to pass on this book. Did not finish
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The Lost Son is a very straightforward women’s fiction novel centering around – you guessed it – a woman’s quest to find her missing child.

Julia Kruse’s mother died in childbirth. Her father, a famous chef at a luxury hotel, fears his demanding job will keep him from spending time with his two young daughters, so he takes a position at the Kruse estate, managing their kitchen. The Kruse family insists on treating them as kin, and Julia and her sister Lena join the Kruse’s own children in being tutored.

For young Julia, this is a dream come true. An early reader and avid student, she quickly outshines all the other kids in the small, private classroom, a fact that causes Lena to resent her. Life would be miserable for Julia if it wasn’t for her father and Robert, the cherished son of the Kruse’s and Julia’s champion.

The two families enjoy many happy years together until Julia’s father dies unexpectedly during her final year of schooling. Robert encourages his family to let Julia stay at their house until she turns eighteen and then the two of them marry. His parents aren’t thrilled, but they do offer them minimal support and arrange for Robert and Julia to head to New York. The Kruses are jewelers and their plan is for Robert to learn the trade from friends of theirs in the city and open a branch of their store there at some later date. Everything is proceeding smoothly and Julia gives birth to her eldest son, Johannes, shortly after arriving in New York. It’s an easy delivery and he is a happy baby, so she is surprised when the delivery of her second son, Nicholas, is difficult and she has to come home in a wheelchair, sick and accompanied by a nurse named Helene.

With all the help she is receiving, Julia is slowly able to recover, but just as she thinks life is about to get back to normal, the unthinkable happens. Robert and Helene abscond to Germany with Nicholas, leaving Julia to raise Johannes alone. Although she does her limited best to search for them, she is never able to locate them.

This story is actually told in a dual timeline format with the above taking place from 1910 through 1927, interspersed with chapters showing Julia in late 1945 working as a baker in a small but popular shop and dating an Irishman named Paul. Johannes has grown up and is in the army like most young men during that period were. Julia is more concerned, however, for Nicholas, whom she knows is in the worst part of the fighting since Germany is under deep allied attack by this point. She has never quite gotten over the loss of this child or the shamefulness of being left by her husband.

This book has several factors that I absolutely love in a novel. Both dual timeline stories and WWII narratives are big draws for me, and the author handles those aspects of the tale really well. The transitions between time periods are clearly marked and the historicity is excellent. There is a clear feeling of America in the 1940s to the tale, not just the gung-ho patriotism you see in a lot of novels but the reality of shortages, the fear of loss of a family member or friend, and the exhaustion of coping with the war and the subsequent stress for years on end. Another positive is the middle-aged romance presented. Paul and Julia are both in their forties and it was nice to see a love story that centers around people that age.

However, I had several issues with the story as well.  I really wasn’t able to immerse myself in the narrative, and I didn’t find the characterization of Julia or any of the others very compelling or nuanced. We are never taken deep enough into their psyches to truly understand what drives them and are often left wondering as to the meaning and motivation behind their behaviors. Additionally, I didn’t understand why so much was made of Julia’s scholastic achievements only to have her go on to be a brilliant chef. Shouldn’t we, from the start, have been concentrating on her culinary abilities? It just seemed that aspect of the story was rather disjointed – we don’t see the beginnings of her interest in baking nor are we shown any impact of her academic gifts in her later life.

Robert’s behaviors are left in the mystery zone as well. He is close to Julia in her childhood but abruptly abandons her, and we are left in the dark as to how and why he fell so quickly in love with Helene. This left me feeling as though a large and important chunk of the story was missing.

The author takes pains to make the point that not all Germans were Nazis, but the story doesn’t examine the issue sufficiently to give us a perspective on how someone who wasn’t resisting the regime wasn’t complicit in it. As a result, every time this subject came up I found myself yanked out of the tale a bit as I tried to figure out what the point of the writer even mentioning that was.

The positives to The Lost Son are its intriguing premise and historicity. Those aren’t enough, however, for me to give this book a strong recommendation. If you are interested in that particular time period it might be worth a read but otherwise, I would give it a miss.
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4 stars

The Lost Son by Stephanie Vanderslice is a bittersweet story of romantic, love lost and found, a mother’s fierce love for her children, and the experience of being a German immigrant in the US during WWII.
Spanning the years of 1910—1945, this is the story of Julia Kruse, who travels to New York City as a newly-wed.  After the birth of her second child, she suffers an unspeakable wrong when her husband Robert steals the 6 week old infant and returns to Germany with his new love, the baby’s nurse.  Julia is left heartbroken with her older child, Johannes, to support.
The writing is superb, and nicely nuanced.  It was easy to become immersed in the characters and settings described.
I recommend this novel to readers of historical fiction, domestic drama, and skilled storytelling.

Thank you to Regal House Publishers and NetGalley for the ARC.  This is my unbiased opinion.
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The Lost Son tells the tale of Julia, a young woman from Germany, and her loss of her younger son. The daughter of a chef, brought up in the household of his wealthy employers, she elopes with the son of her father's employers and goes with him to New York, where they have their first child, Johannes. But life becomes painful after the birth of Nicholas, when Julia's husband returns to Germany with Nicholas and the nurse. From the 1920s to World War II, Julia must build a new life for herself while trying to get back her lost child, who grows up in Nazi Germany despite being technically an American citizen.

This is a sensitively told novel that focuses on Julia and her emotions, particularly her strong maternal love for both her boys. It will appeal to many fans of historical fiction, and also to readers of women's fiction.
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Can you imagine that you family works for a prominent family in Germany and at the beginning of World War 1 this a boy from that prominent family marries you either because he loves you or it is away to help you get away from the troubles and a new start in the United States. Now things move forward and life is getting better but after complications having your second son you are bedridden and can go no further then your apartment and have to have a live in nurse to help take care of you.
Everything is reasonable well until your husband runs off with the nurse and your new born back to Germany. Julia is left with her older son and having to live with overbearing older Sister who is real pain in the butt. Eventually Julia finds some relief going to work in a bakery and getting to use the skills she learned from her father. But Julia does not ever give up here search for the baby she barely had a chance to know and bond with. Eventually the job not only gives her a break from the stress of missing a child, a chance to make a living and maybe a second chance at a relationship but it also may give her a chance to complete her lifes mission to find her child. This story moves back and forth between the beginning of the 20th century and the 1940's. This is a great read as Julia develops her relationship with her older Son, a chance at what a real relationship can be and search for her lost child. I would rate this book 4 1/2 out of 5 stars.
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In 1930s Queens, NY, Julia Kruse was still recovering from an extremely difficult delivery when her husband and nurse took her newborn son to Germany to raise as their own. 

Julia rebuilds her life as a single mother to her older son, Johannes, but she never gives up the idea of going to Germany and finding her son.  Johannes never stopped missing his baby brother either, and as he grows up and World War II looms, he finds a way to get to Germany to find his brother.

I loved the pacing and the characters in The Lost Son.  Stephanie Vanderslice has a wonderful writing style that makes it easy to immersive yourself in the world of the story.
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This is a poignant, heart-breaking story set in the 1920s to WWII.  A woman’s newborn is stolen by her husband and taken back to Germany.  The woman perseveres in trying to raise her older son and find a way to get her baby back, but is constantly thwarted by external circumstances.  Excellent attention to period detail, and a gripping, emotional story.  Highly recommend.
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I have had a hard time thinking of how to discuss this book.  I thought it was definitely worth reading but it was a bit difficult.  Honestly, it hurt my heart but nothing that happened to the characters was easy. If I could, I would probably give it 3.5 stars.  The writing is fine, the story is interesting but maybe I have read too many of this type of book.
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Julia becomes a single mom when her husband takes off with her new baby, Nicholas, and the nurse who was their to help her get better after the caesarean. She is devastated and is determined to find her son somehow, someday. 

She takes care her firstborn Johannes but she struggles with the longing she has for the baby she isn’t able to hold. She tries to save money to get back to Germany to find her son but something always happens. 

The years pass by and Johannes is serving for the U.S. Julia’s new boyfriend knows someone in government and tries to help find her missing son. 

Will they manage to find him? Will either boy make it out of this was alive?

The Last Son was soooo good! I read it all in one sitting and it had me captivated.

A historical fiction set in the time around the Holocaust but is more focused on one family in particular. This book had so much to offer with love, family betrayal, a lost son, a mother’s love, a beloved father and a bittersweet ending that will leave your heart filled with compassion for a woman who has been through so much and deserves to have happiness.

If you enjoy historical fiction with lots of pain and a strong woman who manages to get through it all and keeps pushing through and never looses hope then this is the perfect book for you.
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Spanning from right after The Great War ended into the Second World War, this story shows that a mother’s love and devotion can never be broken. This is a story of perseverance above all else. Julia struggled through so much and just kept pushing forward. Despite language barriers, the great depression, and being abandoned by the one who promised to love her, she never gave up.

I really liked reading this. It moves seamlessly between chapters and compels you to keep turning pages. I haven’t read anything about a devoted mother like this in quite a while. And there was something refreshing about how the characters were written that made me genuinely care about their outcome, even the minor characters. There are plenty of stories out there about divorce, parental kidnapping, single mothers, etc., but this was written in a way that didn’t feel like an overused trope, and I think that makes it stand out among all the rest.
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This was a lovely historical fiction read and I’m glad to have requested it. Thanks for the opportunity to read it!
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I enjoyed this family saga spanning the 1920s and 1930s. Into the early days of WWII.  Focusing on German immigrant family.  Which is something I don’t think I’ve seen in historical fiction or at the very least haven’t read.
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This eye-catching book with its' beautiful cover was enough to have me stopping to take a look at the blurb.  It was the blurb that wanting to dive into its' pages to see what the story held.  I wasn't disappointed. 

A poignant story that pulls at the heartstrings with as a mother experiences the bitter flavors of betrayal, loss, heartache,  and loneliness. Torn apart inside as she fights to give all she can to the child she clings to at her side,  she can't help but yearn for the baby that was stolen from her breast. Year after year,  like a wound that festers, she continues to think of her stolen baby and of a why to find him. 

 Bank failure due to recession,  World War, her sons are always in her heart so much so that it is the only thing this woman lives for.  Happiness is her fear,  for happiness can be stolen. All things must change given time.  Boys grow into men and lonely hearts eventually cry out to be loved. 

This story with its' dual timelines and dual POV allows for a unique unfolding of the present story as the characters are dealing with consequences of the past. It's not a romance,  but it's a story of love.  About the unconditional love of a mother,  a brother and their fight to never give up. Its a story about the human spirit and its' ability to endure trials and hardships, to keep the will to survive through it all.  I recommend this story for someone looking for a historical read that contains grief and loss,  along with a sense of reunion

** Thank you to NetGalley and Regal House Publishing for the opportunity to review this advanced reader copy in exchange for my honest opinion.  **
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I loved The Lost Son, written by a teacher of creative writing, Stephanie Vanderslice. The story began when Julia consulted a doctor in 1945 in New York, and that small scenario changed to Julia as a child in Germany in 1910. I loved her kind father, who always had time to talk to her, to teach her until she was ready to study with the governess of the house. 

Julia's father had been a chef at a grand hotel in Munich until he lost his wife. When the wealthy Kruse family again offered him the chef position in their home, he accepted. He knew being with his two daughters, Julia and Lena, was what his wife would have wanted. The short chapters always opened with a juicy new piece of Julia's life, her job at a bakery in Queens, and her horrible journey from Germany to New York by ship. 

I couldn't wait to find out what would happen next. The story has a mixture of all the hardships life brings along with babies, war, and the Great Recession. The author created mystery and suspense in this historical novel. I would recommend it to everyone who enjoys a complex story that includes tragic loss and great love.

Thank you to NetGalley and Regal House Publishing for this ARC.
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The Lost Son by Stephanie Vanerslice is a love story,a story of endurance, and wonderful story!  Julia is a young woman making a life  in America with her husband during the depression era in the Queens.   After a difficult birth, Julia comes home with her new baby, Nicholas.  Because of her difficult birth, they hire a nurse to help them.  However, Julia's husband and nurse kidnap the baby at six weeks of age and move to Germany  leaving  Julia and her older son,  Johannes, in America to make a life  alone. The novel jumps from young Julia to an older and wiser Julia still living in America and still trying to locate her son Nicholas. Older Julia meets a man named Paul Burns .  Julia is cautious and she has yet to tell Paul about her previous life.   Johannes comes for a visit before going to Germany during WWII  to fight for America.  Johannes knows about his brother, and when he gets to Germany he plans  to try to find his brother.  Julia is forced to tell Paul the story.  Paul has connections that can help her possibly find her son.  The story really picks up speed when Johannes is in Germany and Nicholas's name comes up.  Two brothers on different sides of war!  

Will the brothers reunite and will their life continue? 
The book starts a little slow, but is well worth the read.
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