A Bookshop in Berlin

The Rediscovered Memoir of One Woman's Harrowing Escape from the Nazis
Narrated by: Jilly Bond
Length: 6 hrs and 26 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (62 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Winner of the JQ-Wingate Literary Prize

"A beautiful and important book" (The Independent) in the tradition of rediscovered works like Suite Française and The Nazi Officer’s Wife, the prize-winning memoir of a fearless Jewish bookseller on a harrowing fight for survival across Nazi-occupied Europe.

In 1921, Françoise Frenkel - a Jewish woman from Poland - fulfills a dream. She opens La Maison du Livre, Berlin’s first French bookshop, attracting artists and diplomats, celebrities and poets. The shop becomes a haven for intellectual exchange as Nazi ideology begins to poison the culturally rich city. In 1935, the scene continues to darken. First come the new bureaucratic hurdles, followed by frequent police visits and book confiscations.

Françoise’s dream finally shatters on Kristallnacht in November 1938, as hundreds of Jewish shops and businesses are destroyed. La Maison du Livre is miraculously spared, but fear of persecution eventually forces Françoise on a desperate, lonely flight to Paris. When the city is bombed, she seeks refuge across Southern France, witnessing countless horrors: children torn from their parents, mothers throwing themselves under buses. Secreted away from one safe house to the next, Françoise survives at the heroic hands of strangers risking their lives to protect her.

Published quietly in 1945, then rediscovered nearly 60 years later in an attic, A Bookshop in Berlin is a remarkable story of survival and resilience, of human cruelty and human spirit. In the tradition of Suite Française and The Nazi Officer’s Wife, this audiobook is the tale of a fearless woman whose lust for life and literature refuses to leave her, even in her darkest hours.

©2019 Françoise Frenkel (P)2019 Simon & Schuster Audio

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Fine memoir. Narrator a bit over the top.

I think I would have enjoyed it more if the narrator had taken it down a notch or two with her dramatics. I kept forgetting it was non-fiction with her theatrics.

3 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Acting (narration) could be way better

The vocals (i.e. the acting) of this book is not very good at times. Overall, the actor seems to speak French, but cannot or does not speak English with a French accent. It would really help distinguish between voices if different accents were used, which other actors seem capable of doing. Also, the tone of voice is at times very difficult to listen to. The story is pretty amazing, and I understand that it is kind of like a diary or real life account, so it's understandable that it doesn't always read like a novel. The chronology at the end kind of confused me because the writer makes no mention of a spouse, but the chronology mentions a man in exile who was her husband. I'm still a little confused about that.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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A Remarkable Tale

I respectfully disagree with the other reviews. This book was a beautifully written retelling of a harrowing story. It provided excellent information from a point of view I hadn’t heard before while still managing to read like a novel. I was on the edge of my seat several times. The delightful narration really added to the story. An absolute treasure of a book!

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

An exciting adventure?

It seemed the character was on an adventure, and it really had nothing to do with a bookstore beyond the beginning of the book. She certainly had it easier than most. it seems she was only anxious and truly had it rough the last quarter of the book. She writes a little too cheerful. certainly NOT like other WW2 survivors... odd... very odd...