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Publisher's Summary

In this gripping memoir, Danuta Pfeiffer grew up with parents as extraordinary as they were flawed. John and Patricia Rylko and their three children lived a nomadic life following the seasons to accommodate John's work as a gifted sculptor during the summers and as a philandering ski instructor in the winters. They lived in a circus tent, built their first cabin, and lost it for a dollar. 

John Rylko flaunted his charm as a story teller, entrancing all who listened of his wartime glories as a Polish soldier and his silver medals in the 1936 Winter Olympics, while Patricia, a nurse, pulled double shifts at hospitals, hitchhiking to work and feeding her family off the land with roadkill deer and blackberry pies. 

Those times of resiliency would have to sustain Danuta when she was raped and secretly gave birth to a baby. She escapes her enraged father on a daring journey to Alaska during the storm of the century. 

Through betrayals and loss and her search for redemption, she becomes the unlikely co-host to a television evangelist bent on becoming the president of the US. When her past catches up to her, she is caught in the crosshairs of politics and religion. In a gutsy move, she abandons Christianity during a bicycle ride from Canada to Mexico and unravels her father's hidden life in the Carpathian Mountains of Poland, only to discover her own life hidden in the folds of resiliency, tenacity, and grit. 

Danuta Pfeiffer now lives in a vineyard in Oregon, making fine wine with her husband Robin Pfeiffer.

©2015 Danuta Pfeiffer (P)2018 Danuta Pfeiffer

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  • Overall
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Such an empowering story!

I had the pleasure of meeting Danuta Pfeiffer during a writer's convention in Oregon a few years ago. I bought and read a copy of her book, and thought it was such an empowering story. I couldn't put it down. The audio version is enhanced by the fact that it was being read by the author herself.

Chiseled, took me on a rollercoaster ride of the highs an lows of Danuta's life, and left me feeling the kind of empowerment that one gets from reading about someone that has had had many obstacles thrown her way, yet finds the strength to not only pull herself up from rock-bottom, but thrive.

This book left me feeling determined to use all of the obstacles that I've faced both as a teen when I had my first of two children, now ages 27 and 17, and as a woman living in a man's world. This book left me feeling that my dreams can be a reality; they're mine for the taking.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Truth is more dramatic than fiction. Powerful.

Audio and Print Review. I read this book in print three years ago, and when the author contacted me and asked if I’d listen to the new audio book format, I jumped at the chance. Even three years later, I remembered well the details of the book. Danuta Pfeiffer's Chiseled: A Memoir of Identity, Duplicity, and Divine Wine is the amazing story of Danuta's life -- filled with deception, devastation, and determination -- that takes readers on her courageous journey. Told in three parts, Danuta begins at her beginning, as a god-fearing child, living a spartan life, under a father she revered despite his abusive hands. Her father's stories of obstacles he'd overcome in the war, in the most brutal of circumstances, carried Danuta through her own travails time and again, even as her father continued to reject her.

“Women were expected to be seen but not heard. To be instructed but not instruct.
To praise the Lord and pass the potatoes -- but not to preach.”

For readers who remember Danuta (then Soderman) and her mysterious departure from being the co-host of The 700 Club with Pat Robertson, details are revealed of not only her departure, but of how CBN and Robertson operated behind-the-scenes. This provides fascinating insight into the sometimes-sordid world of televangelism, and it ultimately leads to Danuta's "losing God" for some time. As Danuta navigates her life - out of work, married to an addict, and questioning the very existence of God - she always draws strength from her father's challenges and perseveres. When she finally allows friendships into her life and allows herself to focus on her own needs, she finds true love with a winemaker, Robin Pfeiffer. Robin takes Danuta to Poland, where Danuta connects with her father's family, and discovers the truth and lies of her father's past.

"Memory is wickedly elusive and necessarily subjective.
Ultimately, this is the memory of a lie."

Many of her sentences are stunning, and the imagery truly takes the story to another level. For example, in talking about her father's decline into depression, Danuta wrote, "His change took place the way a shoelace comes undone, gradually unravelling what was once secure." Or, when she speaks of her time with The 700 Club, she summarizes it by saying, "I had become a spiritual drug dealer imbued with the halo of power and celebrity, associated with the brokers of money and politics." Her characterization is excellent so that readers not only witness actions but understand and feel Danuta's emotions towards the characters who have the most impact on her life.

Particularly powerful is the story of Danuta's mother, Patricia, who is truly the hero of Danuta's life. In Patricia's strength and commitment to her family, Danuta finds a role model in a time when women were restricted by societal limitations. Throughout Danuta's life, her faith and relationship with God go through many iterations, and it is interesting to see her thought process at all stages and what ultimately leads her back to a life of faith. Sprinkled throughout the text were photographs from various times in Danuta's life, which enriched the story even further.

ABOUT THE AUDIO BOOK: One word: OUTSTANDING. I loved this memoir when I read it, and I loved it when I read it with my ears and heard the author narrate her life for me. It makes the already intimate feeling memoir feel even more intimate, more real (and more painful), and her triumphs more glorious. Pfeiffer’s training serves her well as her narration is perfectly paced and her voicing of various characters really enriches them. The voicing of her Polish relatives was particularly good. She nailed everything from the humor of her Uncle Frank to the awkwardness of his translating for others and the pain and confusion as Danuta tried to reconcile the father she thought she knew with the man his Polish family knew him to be.

Chiseled is a masterfully written story of a woman spending a lifetime searching to find peace, love, and acceptance within herself. At times, readers will have to remind themselves that Chiseled is a memoir and not fiction. It is unbelievable that any one person endured all the heartache and challenges that Danuta faced, and even more amazing that she survived it and now lives a healthy, happy life. I highly recommend Chiseled, as Danuta Pfeiffer eloquently shows that truth can be more dramatic and fascinating than fiction. Readers be prepared to be angry -- and possibly shed a few tears -- but in the end, feel inspired.

Thank you to the author for reaching out to me and offering an audio download in exchange for my honest opinion – the only kind I give.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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You couldn't make this up if you tried!

Told from the heart and with a story laid bare to the bones about her family, her choices, and her life, Danuta Pfeiffer takes the reader on a roller coaster of good and bad decisions that finally landed her on a peaceful vineyard in Oregon - a far cry from where she started out! The author leads us through her highly traumatic adolescence to a career in broadcasting, a decent into the world of TV evangelism, and finally the discovery of her true self at the side of her wine grower husband. Through the story, she wends her parents and the place they held in her life as she grew up, as they grew older, as the roles reversed. The story is beautifully told for all the challenges in Danuta's life, and her telling of it on audio makes it that much more personal. For those who wished for more than an ordinary life, listen to this story. You couldn't make this up if you tried!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Mary
  • United States
  • 06-22-18

like fine wine!

with each obstacle she faced she became stronger and more determined! This Woman's life was filled with challenge and drama. She managed to turn each chapter of her life into an adventure which strengthened her and delighted her friends. the book is so well written I could hardly put it down. She dazzles with wordplay and metaphor building while telling an incredible story.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Even More Amazing than The Book!

Before listening, I read this incredible book. Danuta is such a gifted writer. Her descriptions and the way she puts words together kept me in awe, not only of her story but her gift of writing. I LOVE hearing Danuta read her story. It was personal and riveting. I highly recommend the Audible book to everyone. CS

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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A fascinating personal journey

This isn’t my usual reading but the book blurb intrigued me. I wanted to know how a person swings back and forth between such extremes. I don’t have to agree with all of person’s views to find their life interesting. I expected to read this book in chunks but once I started it, I was pulled in and listened to most of the book in one day, finishing it off the following morning. Pfeiffer tells a great story sharing the biggest and most important moments of her life in vivid detail, not shying away from the ugly, life-changing, and privately beautiful.

I’ve never watched the 700 club, though I have heard of it. I found this part of the book particularly fascinating because it seems so very odd to me. While I claim no religion, I do expect those that do to do their best to live up to it. However, with the 700 club there was the public persona (which abided by the 700 club code) and then the private life. Alcoholism was common despite the no alcohol rules. Faith healing, words from God, and the ‘give to get’ belief collided with private marital problems, alcohol abuse, and more. Plus, the 700 club wasn’t really into gender equality though Pfeiffer managed to become a very popular part of the show.

I was shocked to learn that Pat Robertson attempted to gain the Republican ticket to run for president. I was still a kid when this was going on, so I give myself a pass for not knowing this before. Now I’m glad we ended up with Bush instead of Robertson. Of course, Robertson became concerned about Pfeiffer’s private past (her child born out of wedlock during her teen years) while he was campaigning. Because of that painful time in her life, Pfeiffer becomes aware of just how much of a double standard there is for men and women in the 700 club.

By that point, I was ready to yank Pfeiffer away from Robertson and his TV church. You’re better than that! The story continues on and it takes a long while for Pfeiffer to realize that this is true. What followed was a bit of a train wreck and it was also hard for me to put away the book. Pfeiffer struggles with an alcoholic & suicidal husband, a depressed mother, and her own self doubts.

One of the things that helped her during this time was the audio memoirs of her dad. They were a surprise find that a friend of her father’s had been holding onto. Things had not gone well with her dad for years and then he passed away. Through these audio memories, she learns to reconnect with him. Later in the story, there’s a rude awakening about her dad’s past which made the book even more interesting.

It does seem that Pfeiffer is a bit of a hockey puck that gets smacked this way and then that, rarely taking control of her own life or taking ownership for her decisions that added to the situation. During her teen years, I found this completely realistic. Things happened during those years that affect her for life. Then as a young lady, she gets swept up into the 700 club with their positive acceptance of yet another convert to their faith. Still, she allows the 700 club and their parent TV station to make life decisions for her, like her marriage. It’s not until after the 700 club has chewed her up and abandoned her that she tentatively starts making decisions for herself. So I would have liked a bit more reflection along those lines, how sticking your head in the sand and just going with flow is an action that can leave you wanting later.

All told, it’s an interesting memoir even for someone like me who knew nothing of the author prior to picking up this book. 4.5/5 stars.

The Narration: Danuta Pfeiffer narrates her own book and she does a pretty good job. She has a variety of voices for the various people in this book and she gives a passable Polish accent for her dad and his relatives as well as a passable Swedish accent for her husband. Pfeiffer relates the emotional scenes quite well, imbuing the moment with just the right amount of emotions without going over the top. Her pacing is perfect. There were no technical issues with this recording. 4.5/5 stars.

I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Danuta Pfeiffer. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.

#TraumaSurvivors #Spirituality

#tagsgiving and #sweepstakes

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Beautiful Memoir!

I loved this author’s memoir! I don’t always love memoirs/non-fiction, but this author did a fantastic job with writing her own encounters in life. It felt at times like a fiction novel which is excellent for me, because I love the way it flowed. I felt many emotions while reading Pfeiffer’s life story, many of which made me want to scream at the audiobook while I was driving. I’m glad she found her way and was able to become so successful! I’m always in awe of individuals who eventually find themselves and their life purpose. I’m hoping I can come to that sooner rather than later myself 🙂 I give it a 5/5 stars.

The narration was also done by Pfeiffer, which felt like an excellent choice since this is her life story. She does well with each voice, making them distinct, and probably this is how they sounded to her while she experienced these events. I didn’t find anything wrong with studio production or pacing of the narration. I give it a 5/5 stars as well!

I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Danuta Pfeiffer. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.