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Up from Orchard Street Audiobook

Up from Orchard Street

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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

4.1 (419 )
5 star
 (178)
4 star
 (139)
3 star
 (63)
2 star
 (26)
1 star
 (13)
Overall
4.2 (184 )
5 star
 (89)
4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Story
4.3 (185 )
5 star
 (105)
4 star
 (46)
3 star
 (24)
2 star
 (4)
1 star
 (6)
Performance
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  •  
    Anne Montgomery Village, MD, United States 02-10-08
    Anne Montgomery Village, MD, United States 02-10-08
    HELPFUL VOTES
    208
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    144
    24
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    4
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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 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Traci Truckee, CA, USA 07-08-07
    Traci Truckee, CA, USA 07-08-07
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
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    15
    1
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    0
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    "Addicting"

    This was the first audio book I downloaded, and I couldn't stop listening. A great book and narrated wonderfuly. Highly recommended.

    2 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 2006

    Addicted to Audible!

    HELPFUL VOTES
    2130
    ratings
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    401
    230
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    2
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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.

    6 of 10 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
    HELPFUL VOTES
    338
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    Story
    "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 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Debbie Toney, Alabama 04-11-17
    Debbie Toney, Alabama 04-11-17 Member Since 2013

    Retired CFO, Army wife, Mom of five, Grandma of six, two sons who served in combat, love to read books that reflect my values and faith, love mysteries, historical, military stories, and books that don't waste my time . . . if it doesn't have an ending that was worth the wait, I'm not a happy camper.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    2021
    ratings
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    603
    602
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    135
    2
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    Story
    "Down and Dirty 1930s Jewish Life in NY Tenements"

    Up from Orchard Street will go down as one of the best books I've come across or listened to . . . and for a number of reasons . . . always on the look out for stories that will give me insight to a different time and place, and a glimpse into the hearts and souls of people whose culture and experience are not the same as my own, this one is it . . . told from the point of view of young Elka, Grandmother Manya's favorite grandchild, whose curiosity and exuberance for life amazes and sometimes shocks those she comes in contact with, the story is told from a totally honest view point . . . no sugar coating, yet not vulgar in any way . . . sex is treated as any other part of life . . . why can't we all do that? . . . the wisdom of Manya and others of her generation puts me to shame . . . the beauty of life, so gently told, letting it unfold, like a rose, opening up, day by day, revealing it's inner loveliness . . . that's what this book is . . . and not holding on too tightly to the crushing blows of life . . . the illness, the deceit, the poverty . . . the horror that inevitably comes our way . . . this book is full of common sense, love and family . . . it would do everybody a world of GOOD to read it, take it in . . . and learn from it . . .

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    rubiksguy 03-08-17
    rubiksguy 03-08-17 Member Since 2012
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    3
    1
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    Story
    "A sense of history"

    Thoroughly enjoyed listening. Gave a good sense of Jewish life in NYC between WWI and WWII. Gained some insights into relationships among Jewish, Italian, Chinese and Harlem neighborhoods. Appreciated the authors comments at the end and would have liked to have a couple of other questions answered.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 02-01-17
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "I was so sad for it to end"

    I lived this book and the reading was perfect
    It ended too soon. In fact that is my only complaint. I feel it glossed over the end as though the writer was tired of the subject. The story, up until the last chapter was wonderful. You care about the whole family, and how they care about each other. It brings to mind a favorite book from my childhood, "A Tree Grows In Brooklyn ". I have to say, I also a great fan of Lorna River. Her voice and accent was one of the great joys of the book. Every character was beautifully done. I recommend it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Katherine L. Alpers missouri, us 01-07-17
    Katherine L. Alpers missouri, us 01-07-17 Member Since 2015

    kat1957

    ratings
    REVIEWS
    5
    1
    Overall
    "Story that touches the heart"

    There is nothing better than a long book that engages your heart. I was so disappointed when I finished. Human characters with bravery and faults; a family history with joy and heartbreak. Do not pass up this book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sudi 01-28-16
    Sudi 01-28-16

    Coffee-UFOs-Cats-Books-Halloween

    HELPFUL VOTES
    66
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    52
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    8
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    Story
    "Good Historical Memoir"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    arlene 08-05-13
    arlene 08-05-13 Member Since 2017

    English teacher nerd, love books with character depth and a good plot, and enjoy almost any genre.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "The narration is stale and methodical"
    What would have made Up from Orchard Street better?

    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.


    What was most disappointing about Eleanor Widmer’s story?

    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.


    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    Yes- she read like the story was a boring essay. She tried the accents but even those were mediocre.


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    None- no feelings at all!,,


    1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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