Are you yearning for an astounding story written with a passionate voice to take you away from your troubles? Look no further than The Accidental Caregiver: How I Met, Loved, and Lost Legendary Holocaust Refugee Maria Altmann by Gregor Collins.
Astonishing and assured, the memoir recounts both the years the author was caregiver to a remarkable woman and his life as an actor. “Acting found me, which is why I knew I couldn’t ignore it.” Admittedly self-absorbed, Collins writes honestly about the loneliness and exasperation inherent in an acting career. At age 32, he becomes a caregiver for Maria Altmann and learns the feeling of truly loving a job. Rather than just feeding pills to a ninety-year old woman, caregiving for him turns out to be a two way street.
Collins has a stout, sensitive heart. He breathes life into the story by inserting his deepest thoughts and feelings. His recounting of Maria Altmann’s story is done with reverence. “Maria is a bundle of charm snuggled under a blanket of love nestled inside a basket of sweetness.” The author’s lust for living life to the fullest spills off the pages. In his relationship with Maria, two effervescent personalities comingle to make sparks fly.
He describes Holocaust refugee, Maria Altmann, as a spitfire woman with amazing intellect and quick wit. A member of one of the wealthiest, cultured families in Western Europe, she was well connected in the musical world. She doted on her children, grandchildren and caregivers. She shared her husband’s passion for opera and had a huge crush on tenor, Placido Domingo. She and her husband, Fritz (a survivor of Dachau) narrowly escaped from Austria in 1938 and ultimately made their way to Los Angeles. In 2004 she won a Supreme Court case to restore to her family Gustav Klimt artwork stolen by the Nazis. When she met Collins in 2008, she was a woman grappling with the challenges of aging, but dancing her way through life.