Review of The Escape Artist by Helen Fremont
For the full essay, see it in Wellesley Magazine.
Originally published in the spring 2020 issue.
Writing memoir is a messy business, and no one knows this better than Helen Fremont ’78.
Fremont’s book The Escape Artist serves as a sequel of sorts to her memoir After Long Silence, published in 1999. After Long Silence grapples with the secret Fremont’s parents kept from her and her sister for most of their lives: that they were Jewish Holocaust survivors. Though Fremont and her sister knew their parents had survived World War II, fleeing their Polish hometown, the daughters were raised Catholic. This false religious identity was one their parents assumed to flee Europe, and, to protect those who helped them, it was an identity they kept up until Fremont and her sister were in their 30s. Upon discovery of the truth, Fremont wrote After Long Silence, revealing the secret her parents had kept for over 50 years. “I’d lived my whole life in my parents’ fiction, governed by lies and secrets and half-truths,” writes Fremont in The Escape Artist, about After Long Silence. “I needed to write something that was my own truth.” Truth exposed; case closed.
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