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Up from Orchard Street Audiobook

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 (368 )
5 star
 (146)
4 star
 (127)
3 star
 (58)
2 star
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1 star
 (11)
Overall
4.1 (139 )
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
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1 star
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Story
4.2 (137 )
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Julie A. Levin Pleasant Hill, California 02-25-08
    Julie A. Levin Pleasant Hill, California 02-25-08 Member Since 2015

    Marriage and Family Therapist

    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    142
    9
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    4
    Overall
    "Loved it!"

    Wonderful characters, vivid descriptions allow the listener to experience the character's lives. One of my favorites.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Enthous St. Paul, MN USA 08-03-13
    Enthous St. Paul, MN USA 08-03-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    20
    7
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    Story
    "Good details of ghetto life, poor characters"

    I'm usually a sucker for this kind of story. Families surviving their circumstances, love conquers all, etc. This one left me flat. I actually couldn't wait til it was over. I kept listening hoping it would get better, but alas, it didn't. The characters, other than the narrator (written in the first person from the perspective of a young Jewish girl) and her bubbe were not well developed and had no depth. Her parents were developmentally narcissistic teenagers. This family lived in a Jewish ghetto, supposedly very poor, yet these people indulged themselves in expensive clothes and entertainments, even professional manicures, while resenting the few dollars spent on clothes their daughter needed for school. I found nothing to like about them, as the only thing I was told about them was that they were beautiful and charming, which was reiterated so often it became insulting. Although the author is a good storyteller, none of the stories or episodes gave the listener any insight into the individuals, nor did they seem to learn or evolve throughout the book. There were no consequences, epiphanies or maturation. It was a series of this happened, then this happened, and it all seemed so random. Even Manya, the wise grandmother, escapes a relationship with a horrible man, not by her own choice, but it just works out that way. The family is often the beneficiary of the largesse of more successful family members and friends, and it all seems so contrived, always coming just at the right moment.

    I gave it 2 stars because the stories often held their own, being interesting vignettes, even though they didn't seem to be part of a larger whole with a plot line leading somewhere, and I learned some things about life in that era and environment.

    The reader, though a woman with a full, mellow voice, as evidenced by the tone she used when reading the narrative portions of the book, used the same, shrill voice for all the speaking parts, and the same accent. People raised in Connecticut had the same NY twang, just not quite as much. Although everyone sounded pretty much alike, the men's voices in particular were indistinct from each other, just louder and higher pitched, so they seemed to be yelling all the time. The text of this book contained a lot of dialogue that was back-and-forth conversation without explicitly stating who was speaking. If you were reading the book, each change of speaker would be a new paragraph, and it would be easier to discern who was speaking, but when listening without the benefit of distinct voices for each character, this was difficult to follow.

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Christine Palm Bay, FL, United States 03-25-13
    Christine Palm Bay, FL, United States 03-25-13 Member Since 2012

    Tell us about yourself! As a retired elementary assistant librarian, I have loved reading to children. Now I really enjoy being read to!!

    HELPFUL VOTES
    0
    ratings
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    21
    2
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    1
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    Story
    "Great Read!!"

    Puts you right in the middle of their lives. Great beliveable characters. I really didn't want story to end.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Victoria Wright The Berkshires, MA 07-03-07
    Victoria Wright The Berkshires, MA 07-03-07 Member Since 2012

    BookmarkServices.net

    HELPFUL VOTES
    121
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    197
    38
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    5
    1
    Overall
    "Oy, vey"

    Unmitigated dreck. Zero character development, sugarcoated poverty, relentless cliches. Memoirs may tend to be short on plot, but in exchange, some realism should be provided, maybe a little historical context...

    The reader, whose rendition of Dorothy Parker is terrific, could have used a bit of coaching in Yiddish (and advice on how to pronounce "ecstatic").

    1 of 9 people found this review helpful

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