Audie Award Winner, Biography and Memoir, 2013
Told with the same old-fashioned narrative power as the novels of Herman Wouk, The Seamstress is the true story of Seren (Sara) Tuvel Bernstein and her survival during wartime. This powerful eyewitness account of survival, told with power and grace, will stay with listeners for years to come.
©1999 Sara Tuvel Bernstein (P)2011 Tantor
"There are many recent accounts of Holocaust victims, but this work stands alone as a testimony to personal strength and an independent spirit." (Library Journal)
When someone recounts something so horrific, I often find myself wanting to understand what it felt like to be in a situation I could not possibly comprehend. Even tough this was an emotional topic, this book was not about the author's emotion. It was a narrative that focused on the facts. Rather than taking away from the story, it allowed the facts to stand by themselves. IMO, most readers would be hard-pressed to listen to the matter-of-fact experiences and not feel complete shock. The juxtaposition between the lack of the emotion and extreme circumstances was unbelievably powerful. I have read many books and watched so many movies about Holocaust survivors. They have all been shocking. They have all left me with a feeling of confusion and awe at the depth to which some people will go to attain utter control and domination.
This book stood out- mainly for its lack of emotion. Viktor Frankl's Man's Search For Meaning stood out because it was a portrait of remarkable human resilience in the face of circumstances so horrific, those who have not experienced them can barely imagine being able to remain alive, let alone resilient. Frankl showed his reader a curious phenomenon; trauma can compel a person to actually reach beyond what they would have likely achieved in their lifetime otherwise. Instead of breaking, they not only recovered, but thrived.
In a similar way, this narrative stood out. It made me ask the question, "What does it take to survive something like a Holocaust?" This would be a good time to mention that I had a bit of an issue with the forward. Sara's cowriter said something along the lines of, Sara survived because she was stronger than other women who allowed themselves (in some way) to die. I certainly agree that it is one kind of strength to be able to shut off parts of yourself, feel distance, and endure. There is no question Sara was so very strong. But, I don't think it is weak to be aware of how horrific a situation is and die from a combination of torture and despair. I don't think it is weak to maybe have already been starving prior to capture and then die sooner because your body had less nutrition from the start (recall Sara ate very well right before capture because she was working for a woman who fed her workers well). It is not weak to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and get shot or hit by a bomb. It is not weak to drink the water and get sick from the water. It's not weak to take the bottom bunk because the top was full and get crushed to death at night. So much of it was luck. So, it seems unfair to characterize any woman or man who died in the camps as weak in some way. That said, it is interesting to try to figure out what factors contribute to extremely resilient individuals.
This book takes the reader from Sara's childhood, in which she begins to understand people's view of Jewish persons, through her capture and time in the camps, and beyond. A must read for anyone interested in the Holocaust.
I enjoyed this book very much. The story kept you wanting to know more and the characters very interesting. The time in history - I enjoyed. The raw emotions captivating.
Hi there! My name is Jen! One of my New Years Resolutions is to read more! I'll try to review all I can!
It's hard to love a story about the holocaust. So much stress and depression the reader has to endure, one has only the imagination to figure out what it really must have felt like. Wth every story of this massacre i read, my love only grows for the strength that the writer had to of had to get through it. In that sense, i love how this book reminded me of tye things that matter in life, and how it reminded me that my probelems are mere ant hills compaired to those that had to live years like this.
My favorite character, of course, is sara. She may have been tried to the very end, but she didn't loose who she was; keeping her personality and morals strong until the very end, not afraid to atand up for the truth in what she believed, and didn't succumb to what the nazi's wanted her to become.
I loved her flashbacks to her child hood. The moments in life she could remember to keep her going.
I had my happy moments and sad momeits throughout the book, but the strongest was that mokent when it ended and i was reminded of all the little good things in ky life. These stories never fail to make me count my blessings, no matter how smll.
Highly recomended! The narriation is great, althoufh sometimes hard to decipher between the haracters, her accents made the story more believeabl and
Well written and interesting story about WWII in Yugoslavia and Hungry. At times narrator was hard to understand ( I listen in the car)
I enjoyed this very much. The narration and story immerse you in another, different world. It is hard to fathom how difficult life was when this story developed, but the authors place you there through their details of the smaller, and the larger, picture.
OCD over books, listening to 1 a day; ANY genre, fact & fiction. Influenced by Audible reviewers so I keep mine unbiased - FRONT to BLACK!
Not as a true story. This story is too contrived. Overall it's a good emotionally charged read. I just don't believe it as an actual account. I can't find anything about Sara Tuvel Bernstein except as it refers to this book.
Just call it what it is - FICTION! I don't doubt that Ms. Bernstein suffered some oppression at the hands of the Nazi's. I just don't believe that she was the only survivor among millions to have the kind of resolve - and luck - that she claims in this book.
Wanda McCaddon is masterful as always.
Only if you think of it as either fiction or a historical account in which the author has taken considerable literary license. The story IS moving and inspiring - it's just not believable.
I've read all of the reviews both here and on Amazon.com. Only one other reviewer feels like I do. I know I'm going to take a lot of flack for this, but I wish someone had given me a less emotional review of this book. I'm black and I'm used to Jewish friends claiming to "understand the pain of slavery". Well, no! "Your blues ain't like my blues"! But I always read books about Holocaust survivors out of respect for THEIR plight. However, there was something just not right about this account. Sara seemed to always have the answer or solution to some really horrific situations while her reaction to the deaths of her family members, one by one, was like "Ho hum!" I just didn't believe that one person in millions had the survivor instincts that this writer claimed to possess. It's easy to say you've done this and that when there's no one to refute your assertions.
The story is well-written and well narrated. But when you "pull the seams apart", it just doesn't fit. There's no way to fact-check the claims of the author. Plus, she was only in that concentration camp for a few months right before the war ended. I found her account of her early life and the years leading up to her so-called "arrest" much more interesting. Living like a hunted animal with no country to call "home" had to be awful. It's when she gets to the camp and on the trains that the story falls apart. Who can go WEEKS without water while doing back-breaking work? Or eight days without food or water packed into a boxcar like sardines? One minute everyone is freezing to death inside the boxcar, then in the same week, the train is sweltering from the weather outside. While the first 75% of the book tells an interesting account, the last becomes overly dramatic and predictable. And, again, I found Sara's total apathy towards the death of her family and camp friends bordering on sociopathic. Why? Because nobody died like she claims.
Notice that Sara is the only person who repeatedly manages to "save the day" by stealing, smuggling, or hiding enough food for her companions. Under those severe and harrowing circumstances, I know I wouldn't take up with a bunch of losers who never bring anything to the table to help in the survival of the group. When Sara is given a lice-ridden coat in the camp-wide clothing swap, she somehow gets one full of paper money hidden in the lining! And she just happened to have squirreled away a needle and thread in the tightly secured camp so she can rip up the lining to get the money, then sew it back up expertly. Really? As if all of those SS guards were too stupid to notice that the already thin garment just might be a little heavy or bulky! Then she and her friends used the money for TOILET PAPER for several weeks but, again, no one in the camp, prisoners included, noticed them "Benjamins" in the crapper! You haven't wiped your butt in months and that's all you could think to do with a large amount of money? C'mon!
What I DO believe is that some opportunistic writers saw a KERNEL of a good book after meeting a Holocaust survivor, likely in her dotage. I thought this book would be a first-hand account by an actual survivor who had gone through one horrific act after another during World War II as a Jew in occupied Europe. It turned out to be a compilation of everything that could happen to several people in a "perfect storm" of terror and persecution. Kind of like "Forrest Gump Meets The Fuhrer"! There's something that just didn't pass the "smell test" for me. I almost didn't write a review because I knew others would be upset with my reaction to this book or they would say, being black, I just don't understand the plight of Jewish people. That's absolutely not true. I sympathize and empathize with the hatred endured by Jews THROUGHOUT the history of the world. How could I not when my own ancestors were oppressed, murdered, beaten, lynched, and raped for centuries as recently as the 21st century? Here, I'll just have to take the hit because I'm calling "a spade a spade" - Sara is "shoveling" it a bit deep!
In this exceptional telling of Saran Tuval you learn how hope and the will to live can carry a woman through the darkest of times and the most dehumanizing events.
This account of a Holocaust survivor is full of her beautiful spirit and determination. What a tribute to a life fought for and lived proudly. Brought to tears at times, I marveled at her bravery. Well read by the narrator, which was so well done that you forget you're listening to a book, this Audible recording is so well done.
I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this story of survival. The narrator presents the book with the right amount of inflection, drama and even humor. It is a very realistic story and at times frightening but always believable. The love and devotion to family and friends is a very important element in this story. I highly recommend listening; everyone can enjoy and learn from the experience.
I absolutely loved this audio book. There were several times where it became so real that I wasn't sure I could finish listening. The voice of the book made Sara Tuval's memories so real that I really identified with her at a depth I never have with other biographies. Hearing the way they were treated was difficult to listen to, but listening to her experience was quite gripping. I had trouble stopping it.
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