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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

4.1 (430 )
5 star
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3 star
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Overall
4.2 (195 )
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4.3 (196 )
5 star
 (113)
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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  •  
    Cheryl Culver, OR, USA 03-31-08
    Cheryl Culver, OR, USA 03-31-08
    HELPFUL VOTES
    20
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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
  •  
    Anne Montgomery Village, MD, United States 02-10-08
    Anne Montgomery Village, MD, United States 02-10-08
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    4
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    "Delightful"

    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.

    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
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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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    "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
  •  
    Kristy Fort Worth, TX, United States 05-23-17
    Kristy Fort Worth, TX, United States 05-23-17 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    Story
    "Not what I was hoping for"
    What disappointed you about Up from Orchard Street?

    The story started out very slow and didn't get any better. I'm usually pretty patient and finally gave up in chapter 8.


    What do you think your next listen will be?

    I'll continue to listen to more Belinda Alexandra books and move on to Pam Jenoff.


    Which character – as performed by Lorna Raver – was your favorite?

    None, they were all fairly boring, but if I had to choose I'd go with Booby.


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    Disappointment


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    rubiksguy 03-08-17
    rubiksguy 03-08-17 Member Since 2012
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    3
    1
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    Performance
    Story
    "A sense of history"

    Thoroughly enjoyed listening. Gave a good sense of Jewish life in NYC between WWI and WWII. Gained some insights into relationships among Jewish, Italian, Chinese and Harlem neighborhoods. Appreciated the authors comments at the end and would have liked to have a couple of other questions answered.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dee Schaffer 02-01-17
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "I was so sad for it to end"

    I lived this book and the reading was perfect
    It ended too soon. In fact that is my only complaint. I feel it glossed over the end as though the writer was tired of the subject. The story, up until the last chapter was wonderful. You care about the whole family, and how they care about each other. It brings to mind a favorite book from my childhood, "A Tree Grows In Brooklyn ". I have to say, I also a great fan of Lorna River. Her voice and accent was one of the great joys of the book. Every character was beautifully done. I recommend it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Katherine L. Alpers missouri, us 01-07-17
    Katherine L. Alpers missouri, us 01-07-17

    kat1957

    ratings
    REVIEWS
    5
    1
    Overall
    "Story that touches the heart"

    There is nothing better than a long book that engages your heart. I was so disappointed when I finished. Human characters with bravery and faults; a family history with joy and heartbreak. Do not pass up this book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sudi 01-28-16
    Sudi 01-28-16

    Coffee-UFOs-Cats-Books-Halloween

    HELPFUL VOTES
    77
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    79
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    Overall
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    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

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