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The Seamstress | [Sara Tuvel Bernstein, Louise Loots Thornton, Marlene Bernstein Samuels]

The Seamstress

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.
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Publisher's Summary

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

What the Critics Say

"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)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

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  •  
    Douglas Auburn, WA, United States 04-20-14
    Douglas Auburn, WA, United States 04-20-14 Member Since 2008

    College English professor who loves classic literature, psychology, neurology and hates pop trash like Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey.

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    "Everyone Knows..."

    the horrible name of Auschwitz and perhaps Dachau, but fewer that of Ravensbrook, a women's prison camp with just as many terrors. This is a compelling, if matter of fact story of one woman's experience of the holocaust and prison life. A fine addition to one's WWII library.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Linda Lou Cave Creek, AZ USA 03-17-14
    Linda Lou Cave Creek, AZ USA 03-17-14 Member Since 2014

    Obsessive reader, 6-10 books a week, chosen from Member reviews. Fact & fiction, subjects from the Tudors to Tookie, Harlem to Hiroshima, Huey Long to Huey Newton.  In-depth fair reviews - from front to BLACK!!! 

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    "NOT BUYING INTO THIS PARTICULARLY STORY!"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    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.


    What could the authors have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    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.


    What does Wanda McCaddon bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Wanda McCaddon is masterful as always.


    Was The Seamstress worth the listening time?

    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.


    Any additional comments?

    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!

    9 of 17 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Catherine 05-13-15
    Catherine 05-13-15
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    "STuck with me"

    great book. extremely well read by actor. Moving story. I have highly recommended. I really liked it. Good true story.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jayne Wachs Tucson, AZ. USA 04-27-15
    Jayne Wachs Tucson, AZ. USA 04-27-15 Member Since 2014
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    "Excellent Book"

    This is a heart wrenching story, beautifully narrated. It is a story that needed to be told and heard. It is a wonderful book!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Coby 04-20-15
    Coby 04-20-15
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    "Great story of optimistic tenacity"

    I had no expectations for this book. I usually stick to books people have recommended. It was on a list of Buy two get one free. I was not disappointed!

    I loved the narration, the author and of course Sara. Life dealt her a pretty tough hand and through it all she cared for and loved others, worked hard no matter what, made the best decisions she could at any given moment, stood up for what she knew was right, found happiness as often as possible and in the end had no regrets. We could all learn a few things from her and her life. Amazing!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    veronica quinn 04-06-15 Member Since 2013
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    "Absolutely engulfing!!! Loved it! Narrator great!"

    Absolutely engulfing!!! Loved feeling as if I were there!! Narrator was great!!!! Highly recommended listen!!!!!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Damaris A Wood 04-04-15 Member Since 2013
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    "Really great story!"

    This was a really great book. I enjoyed the entire story from beginning to end. The narrator was very good. and I greatly appreciated the struggles that she shared in her book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    S. Walker Waco, TX 04-01-15
    S. Walker Waco, TX 04-01-15 Member Since 2014

    S Walker

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    "Very Interesting! Great listen. Couldn't stop."
    Would you listen to The Seamstress again? Why?

    I would listen to this again. It was a wonderful listen but also so informative and encouraging. The strength and attitude this woman had during the things she endured is amazing. Somehow it gives you strength once you listen.


    What did you like best about this story?

    That Sara survived and through all her turmoil she kept amazingly strong and positive.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    I loved the part where she and her siblings confronted the other children on the bridge on the way home from school. Sort of her first challenge in life.


    Any additional comments?

    I have heard many stories of the horrible things that happened to the Jews during this time but never felt like it was coming from a survivor. Brings a whole new understanding.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    M. Adler DeLand, FL USA 03-25-15
    M. Adler DeLand, FL USA 03-25-15 Member Since 2011
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    "Moving recount of history"

    I can't imagine why there were difficulties getting this published. What a great story of courage, determination,sisterhood, in a time of unspeakable inhumanity, read beautifully.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Saman Houston, TX, United States 03-24-15
    Saman Houston, TX, United States 03-24-15 Member Since 2010

    sam_perera

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    "Harrowing survival story …"

    I really love to read these memoirs from Jewish survivors who endured the Holocaust and survived. Millions of others did not have this privilege. By telling her story, Seren Tuval Bernstein brings glory to her compatriots who suffered under the yoke of Nazism.

    Atleast for me, this was a different type of Holocaust survival story. It begins with the birth of Seren in Romania and journeys to Hungary where she eventually falls into the trap of mass arrest and deportation. Her capture and train ride is painstakingly explained and includes the harrowing and utter tragic death of her sister, Zipporah. There is much detail of life in Ravensbruck and the simple will to survive the harshest of conditions. The story is intriguing because it details life before the war and during its initial and final phases.

    There is something more graphic in this memoir that is somewhat unique to this book in particular. It shows that antisemitism was not only in Germany but existed and thrived in most European countries. The inhuman effect it had upon the Jewish population can be well understood when reading this book. Some ignored its affect until the final solution whilst others fled its evil tentacles. It is impossible to fathom the hatred within such groups as Romania’s Iron Guard and Hungary’s Arrow Cross Party.

    This is a must read for those interested in these times. Narration is also extremely well done.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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