©2005 Eleanor Widmer; (P)2005 Blackstone Audiobooks
"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)
Addicted to Audible!
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.
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.
My recent experiences in both reading and listening to books had left me concerned because nothing was captivating me. This book changed that. I loved this book. The author weaves a tale of an immigrant woman and her family. They are all flawed and they are all wonderful. The narrator's use of a variety of accents and speech patterns brought my back to my youth in New York. Although my ancestors immigrated from a similar place, under similar circumstances, their life in New York was very different in both location and details. This was all new to me and a wonderful journey through the characters lives. I believe that regardless of your experience or background you will enjoy watching these characters evolve.
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.
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.
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.
The people in "Up From Orchard Street" do come alive... to a certain extent. Hence, the 4 stars in the "overall" category.
There was a certain amount of color that embellished the characters but somehow, I was always expecting a little more... of course this book is a partially true historical recounting of growing up in early to mid century New York City and the author may have stuck so closely to facts that any fictionalized dramas may have not been the direction Widmer, the author, wished to head. That made for a slightly predictable means of seeing the characters in most situations.
However, the book held my interest and you might find the characters more colorful than I did. Lorna Raver did a great job with the immigrant accents speaking English and also Yiddish.
Finally, in the afterword, I thought Widmer might have her real story. What she says, briefly, happened to her and her family's lives after she became an adult, might actually be more interesting than recounting her memories of childhood.
But overall... I liked the book.
English teacher nerd, love books with character depth and a good plot, and enjoy almost any genre.
The story is pointless and I wasn't really sure of the plot. It dragged on mercilessly for over eight hours. I thought the grandma was hilarious but she really was a foil character and the other people seemed disingenuous and Whitney.
It was rated so high,y and compared to "The Chaperone". This story is a biography that is a complete fabrication of life in New York. It was unbelievable and didn't have any authentic description or detail.
Yes- she read like the story was a boring essay. She tried the accents but even those were mediocre.
None- no feelings at all!,,
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