©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)
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
There are no listener reviews for this title yet.
Report Inappropriate Content