Up from Orchard Street Audiobook | Eleanor Widmer | Audible.com
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Up from Orchard Street | [Eleanor Widmer]

Up from Orchard Street

Three generations of Roths live together in a crowded tenement flat. Long-widowed Manya is the family's head and its heart. But Manya is no soft touch, except, perhaps, where her granddaughter Elka is concerned. Precocious Elka is her closest companion and confidante. Through Elka's eyes we come to know the fascinating characters who move in and out of the Roths' lives.
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Publisher's Summary

Three generations of Roths live together in a crowded tenement flat. Long-widowed Manya is the family's head and its heart. She's renowned throughout the neighborhood for her cooking, and every noontime the front room of the flat turns into Manya's private restaurant. But Manya is no soft touch, except, perhaps, where her granddaughter Elka is concerned. Precocious Elka is her closest companion and confidante. Through Elka's eyes we come to know the fascinating characters who move in and out of the Roths' lives. Money may have been short, but opinions were not, and their tart tongues and lively humor abound. In this riveting story lies the heart of the American immigrant experience: a novel at once wise, funny, poignant, anguishing, exultant, and bursting with love.

©2005 Eleanor Widmer; (P)2005 Blackstone Audiobooks

What the Critics Say

  • 2005 Audie Award Nominee, Solo Narration (Female)

"Poignant snapshot of a long-lost era and place....[This] first novel offers pungent, nostalgic vignettes of Jewish life on Manhattan's Lower East Side." (Kirkus Reviews)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.0 (328 )
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  •  
    Patti Chittenango, NY, United States 12-30-06
    Patti Chittenango, NY, United States 12-30-06 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Another Favorite"

    The list just gets longer and longer of favorite books I have listened to. This one has definitely found a spot on that list.

    Set in NYC with a Jewish immigrant family prior to, through, and after the Depression. We learn about three generations of a wonderful family as they triumph together. The vignettes are amusing, sad, real, and loving.

    I do love ethnic tales because we can always find something in our own background to identify with, regardless of the culture. This is no exception.

    10 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Angie Kansas City, MO, United States 07-09-08
    Angie Kansas City, MO, United States 07-09-08 Member Since 2005

    Immigration lawyer in Kansas City. I like Character driven dramas, fantasy (monsters, magic and witches oh my!) and coming of age stories. Favs include: The Book Thief, The Game of Throne series, Harry Potter Series, Dresden Files, Nightside series, anything by Neil Gaimen, 100 Years of Solitude.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Excellent"

    I love books told from the point of view of a child. They are truly amazing. Like The Secret Lives of Bees and The Book Thief, this book is the world through the eyes of a 6-14 year old growing up in 1930'2 New York in a Jewish Ghetto. It is about family and the strong ties that bind us to those we love, both blood and friends. This is an excellent story and the characters are lovely. The narrator is EXCELLENT. She did the variety of people, ages, accents with ease. I highly recommend this story.

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cheryl Culver, OR, USA 03-31-08
    Cheryl Culver, OR, USA 03-31-08 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A delightful story"

    This book is a fictionalized memoir but reads more like a memoir. The story is narrated by the granddaughter who is very likeable. It is set in early 1900s New York City in the Jewish district. It is about a woman who emigrated from Russia with her husband, who shortly dies shortly after they reach the US. They have one child and she must raise him alone. Instead of growing up and leaving home, he marries and brings his wife to live with his mother in their one bedroom apartment. The couple have two children whom the grandmother lovingly raises, with the beautiful but empty-headed mother's blessing.

    The grandmother runs a restaurant in their apartment. If you don't know much about Jewish food, you will when you finish as it is much discussed. It also makes one realize how easy life is now compared to the one this family lived. The family is close and the neighbors all know everyone's business. The story is funny and sad, and very entertaining. I had a hard time putting it down, which is about all I ask of a book.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Anne Montgomery Village, MD, United States 02-10-08
    Anne Montgomery Village, MD, United States 02-10-08 Member Since 2002
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Delightful"

    I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and the narrator added to the spell it cast for me. Maybe things are a little sugary, as the one completely hostile reviewer indicated, but I didn't find it terribly unrealistic. The author could have made more of the difficulties in her family's life and of the character flaws in her relatives, but she didn't ignore them. No one is an untarnished angel, except (perhaps) Manya. The environment isn't completely sanitized - racial and ethnic hatreds are certainly there, along with the awfulness of tenement life. These are real people, drawn with a loving hand.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    MEMcL Carlsbad, CA 04-17-07
    MEMcL Carlsbad, CA 04-17-07 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A delightful book"

    This is a charming and heart-warming book. The characters are beautifully portrayed by the reader and her accented dialogue adds to the pleasure of the book. My background is very different from the NYC Jewish culture and yet I could relate so well to the family. I loved the characters and I really hope that there will be a sequel.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mark Fort Lauderdale, FL, United States 11-21-11
    Mark Fort Lauderdale, FL, United States 11-21-11 Member Since 2005
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    "Epic story of immigrant life in New York"

    I cannot recommend this book highly enough. As someone who has worked years in the food industry this "up from your boot straps" story described by way of classic home cooking really struck home for me.

    Lorna Raver is one of the best narrators in the business. Her talents are well used here.

    This ranks as another book I envy anyone experiencing for the first time.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Anne Ballwin, MO, United States 01-07-10
    Anne Ballwin, MO, United States 01-07-10 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Good and not so good"

    I am glad I bought this, but am also glad I didn't pay full price for it (bought it during the $4.95 sale.)

    I liked the historical detail of life in the tenements of New York for the Jewish immigrants. I learned some interesting things about that life in the first half of the 20th century (did you know that people could run a restaurant out of a second-floor walk-up apartment?)

    I would have liked it better if the author had been better about conveying time frames... it was hard to keep track of the passage of time. There was a GREAT deal of detail in some places; sometimes MUCH more than was needed.

    Overall, I liked the book. The character development was reasonable and, in general, brutally honest. They had both charm and flaws, as well as depth. The narrator did a good job and, after the initial "getting used to it" period, I had no trouble following the characters.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Taryn Suffern, NY, United States 10-19-11
    Taryn Suffern, NY, United States 10-19-11 Member Since 2005

    Addicted to Audible!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Entertaining"

    While this book was no great piece of literature, it was an entertaining, engaging story. My Italian grandmother grew up in the NYC tenements and many of her stories were similar although her family was actually poorer than the one described. I think the child's perspective was a good approach, as many of the harsh realities were downplayed. The Tenement Museum in NYC has apartments decorated as they were in this time period - quite interesting.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kathy Troy, IL, USA 10-13-09
    Kathy Troy, IL, USA 10-13-09 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Loved it!"

    My favorite story is one that takes you right there as if you are in the room with the characters. This book is wonderful, the narrator is just right.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Terry Pomfret Center, CT, USA 10-06-09
    Terry Pomfret Center, CT, USA 10-06-09
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "I loved this book"

    My mother would have loved this story. It doesn't matter that the nationality is different, the city different. The story of the strong, honest immigrant family is universal. They used what they had, making something out of nothing., to be shared with others who had less. The stories my mother told of her young years during the depression, with 3 generations all living under 1 roof, were the same. I know she would have remembered her own loving grandmother, so wonderfully described in this book. What a precious heritage we enjoy! Well written, well read. Thank you.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
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