Dr. Henry Massie, a psychiatrist who now resides in CA, is an award-winning author. He is also a pioneering researcher in the field of autism. His book Felice's Worlds: From the Holocaust to the Halls of Modern Art, is a memoir and biography of his mother, a brilliant and beautiful woman who survived the holocaust and participated in many of the most critical periods of the 20th Century.
Dr. Massie says, “In writing about her, I understood for the first time how her experience of losing loved ones to the Nazis had been passed on to her American son.
"But as a psychiatrist, I was drawn to Felice’s story because it shows so much resilience in the face of terrible emotional trauma. Her life dramatizes how just keeping on through days of having nothing but a belief that someday I will have something, can be a powerful survival tool."
Could you please tell us a bit about your book? The story? The characters?
Felice's Worlds is the biography of the odyssey of a daughter of the 20th century whose life provides a window into some of the most important events in the political history of that age and the world of modern art. Raised in a Polish village near the Russian border, Felice was an escapee from the Nazis, a high-school political activist in Lithuania, a university student in France who lost her first love tragically, and a partisan for Arab-Jewish coexistence in Palestine. She arrived in America in 1937 penniless with one small suitcase, yet when she died she had amassed one of the most important collections of Abstract Expressionist art in the world.
Felice Ozerovicz Massie was also my mother, and the book is my memoir of the stories she told me of her life. she regaled me with tales of her adventures crossing borders through ruses in her youth, how she became a part of the world of Abstract Expressionist Art in America, and her circle of psychoanalyst, artist, and writer friends, who appear in the book. She also shared with me the crushing experience of the loss of members of her family in the Holocaust. What appealed to me most as a psychiatrist and author about Felice's life--what drove me to write about it--was her boldness and resilience in the face of emotional trauma. She had the ability, in her words, "to keep on going, put one foot before the other through days of having nothing but the belief that someday I will have something."