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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

4.0 (382 )
5 star
 (153)
4 star
 (131)
3 star
 (60)
2 star
 (26)
1 star
 (12)
Overall
4.1 (150 )
5 star
 (67)
4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
 (3)
Story
4.2 (150 )
5 star
 (78)
4 star
 (40)
3 star
 (24)
2 star
 (4)
1 star
 (4)
Performance
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  •  
    Kathy Troy, IL, USA 10-13-09
    Kathy Troy, IL, USA 10-13-09
    HELPFUL VOTES
    14
    ratings
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    10
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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 3 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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    ratings
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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 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    LK Texas 06-14-09
    LK Texas 06-14-09 Listener Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Wonderful Tale!"

    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.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cheryl Culver, OR, USA 03-31-08
    Cheryl Culver, OR, USA 03-31-08
    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 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Traci Truckee, CA, USA 07-08-07
    Traci Truckee, CA, USA 07-08-07
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
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    15
    1
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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
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    Story
    "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
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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 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Anne 01-07-10
    Anne 01-07-10
    HELPFUL VOTES
    462
    ratings
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    190
    145
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    4
    Overall
    "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 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sudi 01-28-16
    Sudi 01-28-16

    Coffee-UFOs-Cats-Books-Halloween

    HELPFUL VOTES
    59
    ratings
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    69
    48
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    8
    Overall
    Performance
    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 2016

    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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