It's 1935. Rita Feuerstahl comes to the university in Krakow intent on enjoying her freedom. But life has other things in store - marriage, a love affair, a child, all in the shadows of the oncoming war. When the war arrives, Rita is armed with a secret so enormous that it could cost the Allies everything, even as it gives her the will to live. She must find a way both to keep her secret and to survive amid the chaos of Europe at war. Living by her wits among the Germans as their conquests turn to defeat, she seeks a way to prevent the inevitable doom of Nazism from making her one of its last victims. Can her passion and resolve outlast the most powerful evil that Europe has ever seen?
In an epic saga that spans from Paris in the '30s and Spain's Civil War to Moscow, Warsaw, and the heart of Nazi Germany, The Girl from Krakow follows one woman's battle for survival as entire nations are torn apart, never to be the same.
©2015 Alex Rosenberg (P)2015 Brilliance Audio, all rights reserved
I found the story interesting and engaging. However, the very proper British gentleman narrating made it a bit difficult for me to appreciate the emotions and thoughts of the primary character. He sounded as if he were reading a technical journal while relating some very intimate and emotional scenes.
The Publisher’s Summary (above) is misleading. I got the impression that this book would be about WW-II and the main character, The Girl from Krakow, was a spy or someone caught up in a plot. This isn’t even a rough description of this story.
First, the fact that Rita knows a secret that could cost the Allies the war has nothing at all to do with her behavior, decisions, nor anything else in the course of the story.
Second, the secret that Rita learns is actually so enormous that absolutely no one who was privy to it would tell someone like Rita under ANY circumstances. When it’s revealed to Rita the realism of the book is destroyed.
Last, this is a chick book. There is almost no action, and most of the book is about relationships and feelings, primarily those of Rita. As Sara points out in her review dated 7 May 2016, Rita’s relationships and feelings are pretty disgusting, and they are used to justify several repulsive actions.
I wanted to give up on this book after about two or three hours but stuck it out because it was well written and because I thought the ending might justify the time I spent listening.
The narrator is very good, even though he could do a bit better at differentiating among the various characters’ voices. His pronunciation of the German words was flawless.
Former editor at The New York Times and Farrar Straus & Giroux. Looking for work.
That may sound like a recommendation. It's not. Only after finishing this book did I look up the author's credentials. What do you know. A first novel by a philosopher. The philosophy is in fact the draggiest part. Descriptions of all of the locations and political intrigues are written as if regurgitated from deep research, so deep that the typical reader can't follow. I knew about the POUM only because I had just read a long New Yorker review of a book about the Spanish Civil War. So it's an anti-Stalinist party of former Trotskyists. If that had anything important to do with the character who flights in Spain, maybe it was worth bringing it up. But no, just another complication, without justification. And the sex. These scenes would qualify for worst sex scenes ever: who talks about "labia" in good writing about sex? And Rita, the main character, is portrayed as a "free spirit," which means in this book she sleeps with everyone who is unlikely, while still remaining pure where it is likely. The situations are a stretch. People pop up all over Europe. and then suddenly can speak Catalan, Russian, English, Polish, German -- just out of the blue. And speak well enough not to be recognized. AND, the "dramatic" situations are in fact so unlikely -- with a lot of foreshadowing about what a terrible mistake is being made, but it comes down to the smallest, most unconvincing slip, like asking "Are there still a lot of Jews in Berlin?" A question anyone might have asked under Nazi rule without having a bigot immediately decide they are Jewish.
Just terrible. And the narrator sounds so pompous, and his American accent is so wrong, it just added to the unpleasant experience.
Blah! This was a bargain book of the day, which is going to make me dubious about any other special offers, unless they are of classics.
Be afraid. Be very afraid.
This book is told from such a cold, observing distance that the characters remain flat and one dimensional. There is no flow, no story which develops the people in this odd book into beings the reader can care about and believe. Rather, somehow the author uses circular philosophy and philosophical theory to justify an anything goes mentality in this book. Further, this becomes one long tirade on politics, political parties, belief systems and factions that will make your head spin. To Rosenberg it seems that everybody is wrong, everything is terrible so it doesn't matter how you behave in life.
The book is filled with themes that justify lying, infidelity, child abandonment, abortion, and a host of unsavory behaviors. Didn't do well in medical school and can't get a training position--that's ok--just steal a dead person's identity and pretend you are a specialist--no one will see you are a poser. Move to Spain and don't speak the language--no problem--in days you will be fluent and running the hospital department. Story dragging a bit--nothing to worry about just throw in another random gratuitous sex scene and all will be well. Really???
I just hated this poorly written pseudo-political, pseudo-historic mishmash of unbelievable storytelling. I only spent a dollar on this book and I'd like my dollar back. What an arrogant, offensive waste of time. I give this the double Ugh award.
First if all, there's no need for fictional Holocaust stories when there are so many true survivor stories that are worthy of your time.
Second, and most disturbing, is the disgusting erotica that plays a considerable role in this book. The author wrote more on this topic than of the main character's family. I find it incredibly disrespectful to those that suffered extreme persecution and death. How low-brow!
Lastly, the story is so far-fetched. The main character isn't even likable and the author seemed to have concentrated on rather irrelevant things as opposed to the horror that the victims suffered.
Overall the story was well done even compelling but it did not need the detailed descriptions of both heterosexual and homosexual sex encounters to advance the story.
Hauntingly beautiful holocaust fiction full of twists and turns and so realistic. So much research must have gone into this project. And such complex and interesting characters.
I can't imagine atheists, Jewish, or christians would find this book anything but offensive. Apparently, if you don't believe in God, anything goes; adultery, homosexuality, child abandonment etc.
I was expecting a book containing intrigue, survival and an account of a strong woman surviving a horrendous ordeal.
This was a book filled with erotica and shallow characters in the guise of a mystery novel. I quit listening to it with 4 hrs remaining, and listened to the last chapter out of curiosity about a child's whereabouts. Even that was a huge disappointment. Thank God this wasn't a true account.
The fact that a woman who is so vapid and immoral would survive the Holocaust, while millions of innocents who would have been useful to society perished.
The narrator did a good job, it was just odd to have a man narrating from a woman's perspective.
The main character, Rita.
Complete waste of time. There are plenty of other quality books on the Holocaust which give accounts of bravery, endurance and heartbreak which honor the innocent people of the Holocaust. I purchase books about it to give homage and respect to those people and learn about a horrifying moment in human history which should be forever emblazoned on the human heart so it may never be repeated.
I found that it to take half of the book before I understood who the characters were. I had a hard time remembering names since they were foreign and constantly changing. I never did identify with the main characters. I found them hard to like. By the end of the book, I was very dissatisfied. The story takes you to hardcore horror and terror and heartbreak, but there is no real elation or or relief to give your emotions a breather. I don't know that I could recommend this book. I won't ever relisten. I am left feeling sick and unsettled.
"Lessons for modern day"
Not my usual type of book. But I was hooked.
Now to buy a hard copy.
Unfortunately so many of the undercurrents in the story seem present in modern day Europe which makes it easier to relate to the characters.
I loved it, well written with real characters and gripping plot. Couldn't put it away.
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