Anna Nessy Perlberg lived a remarkable life. From her early years of privilege in Prague, to the struggles of a young immigrant in New York City, from her years at Barnard College and Columbia University to a career of service and a loving and story-filled marriage with her poet-husband Mark Perlberg, Anna lived by the humanitarian principles that were instilled in her by her parents.
Anna’s compelling memoir, The House in Prague, was written quite late in her long life. The book begins by welcoming us into her early life in the elegant house near the Castle in Prague. We meet her shining and beautiful opera singer mother, friend of Albert Schweitzer and Arnold Schoenberg; and her father, counsel to the family of Czech President, Thomas Masaryk.
With Hitler’s rise to power, everything changes. Anna’s father is Jewish and that, coupled with their political connections, puts the family in great danger. And so their harrowing escape to a new life in America begins.
The House in Prague is a memoir in two parts. In Part I, through Anna’s young voice we learn of the family’s escape from the Nazis, their voyage to Ellis Island, and her struggles to become an American girl in a city teeming with immigrants and prejudice.
In Part II, present-day Anna shares stories of the successes and failures of her immigrant family, their cherished Holocaust survivors, and life with her poet-husband and their children. And through it all, there is the house in Prague, elegant, unchanging, helping Anna to find her own way home.
The House in Prague is written with straightforward, lyrical clarity. Neither a romanticized view of the past, nor an unkind tell-all, Anna shared her life in a way that helps us understand our own.
Read a sample chapter, “Leaving,” here.