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The Woman Who Heard Color
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The Woman Who Heard Color

3.84 of 5 stars 3.84  ·  rating details  ·  606 ratings  ·  119 reviews
Lauren O'Farrell is an "art detective" who made it her mission to retrieve invaluable works stolen by the Nazis during the darkest days of World War II. Her quest leads her to the Manhattan apartment of elderly Isabella Fletcher, a woman who lives in the shadow of a terrible history-years ago her mother was rumored to have collaborated with the Nazis.

But as Isabella rev

ebook, 400 pages
Published October 1st 2011 by Berkley Books (first published January 1st 2011)
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This is, hands down, one of my favorite books. This is for two reasons. The first is probably because I have a few personal connections with the themes in this book that made it come even more alive for me than an average read: I am of German descent, I have connections to the city of Munich, I am an art history major that focuses on art of this time period. But the reason I liked this book even more is because it really highlights, through the art, characters and places, the opinions of Germans...more
There are many important books, both fiction and non-fiction that tell the story of what happened during WW II in Germany and in other European countries . Many of these focus on the horrific things that happened to the Jews in the concentration camps and the death camps. So why did I like a book that focuses on saving art work? Because it was about preserving the creative spirit that is a symbol for the humanity that Hitler and the Nazis tried to destroy. It is a book about how the human spirit...more
I have always had a fascination with synesthesia (the brain’s association of sound with color or any other mixing of the senses), which is what initially drew me to “The Woman Who Heard Color” by Kelly Jones. Although the book promises some World War and World War II suspense (which isn’t my cup of tea); I still decided to dive-in.

“The Woman Who Heard Color” follows a ‘two-books-in-one’ style with a plot taking place in both the turn of the century and in 2009. Although the two storylines blend...more
A German teenager, Hanna, who associated music with color and for whom color spoke clearly and loudly, manages through the help of her sister, to obtain a housekeeping job in the home of an art dealer. Through his tutelage,and that of his ailing wife, her appreciation for art grows. At dinner parties at the house, she serves artists such as Vassily Kandinsky, Franz Marc and Jalewsky. Later, when she works at the art gallery, her education is further enhanced and her skills in understanding clien...more
I'm not quite sure what to say....I expected magnificence with the 4+ star rating. I was disappointed. It's good, but not stellar.

Ms. Jones' effort is fine, she writes well, but this was not the engaging, I-cannot-put-it-down-must-read-one-more-chapter novel I was expecting. The tie of the modern situation to the past felt forced. Then within the story - too much predictability - the first encounter with Hitler, obvious; the first encounter with Keller, equally obvious.

Further, the whole synest...more
Laura Kay Bolin
Art Detective, Lauren O’farrell, is investigating art stolen during World War ll in hopes of restoring pieces to their rightful owners. She is looking into, Hanna Fleischmann, who was rumored to be a Nazi Collaborator. She contacts Hanna’s elderly daughter, Isabella to probe about Hanna’s past. She is stunned when Isabella not only invites her into her home, but also shockingly announces she has possession of a Kandinsky painting, which was believed to have been destroyed during the war. Isabell...more
This book has a fabulous plot and premise. It follows Hanna, a German girl from the country, who moves to Munich in 1900 to work in the household of a well-known Jewish art dealer. Hanna's special ability to see colors when she hears voices, music, and other sounds, as well as hear beautiful music when she sees colorful paintings (the neurological condition called synesthesia), catches the interest of her employers, and she begins to learn about art and music and rub elbows with such famous arti...more
Diane S.
Loved this book! A modern day art history detective meets with the daughter of a supposed Nazi collaborator, thought to have helped Hitler steal great works of art. From that we learn Hanna's story and see from within a family and country, Hitler's total dominance of his people. This has a little different slant though which is what made it fascinating for me, because Hanna has synesthesia, she can look at colors and hear music, and becomes am art agent at her Jewish husband's gallery. This nove...more
While I enjoyed the book, I was dissapointed that it did not delve in the synesthesia of the title character more. Since it is what begets the title of the book and what draws the title character, Hanna, to art in the first place.

I also found that in the end, I still did not feel as if the whole story of Hanna was ever truly revealed. Had this been a biography pieced together from survivor accounts and family stories, this would have been understandable, but for a novel whose intent is to revea...more
I had read some of the reviews on this when I was half way through the book and didn't see how they could rate this book as average or below average. I loved it. I thought it told a very interesting story and loved Hannah throughout the book. I grew to like Isabella in the end too.

Maybe the historical factors were not exactly right and that was the reason for the dislike, but I found it to be a very interesting take on what happened with some of the art that was taken during Hitler's regime.

As other reviewers have said, the title is misleading. Synesthesia doesn't play a major role in this book. Yet it does illustrate that Hanna's perspective is different.

It was actually really hard for me to decide how many stars to give this novel. I can't say that I liked this book, but I also can't say that it was merely OK because it caused me to think about the ethical issues involved in Hanna's conduct. I judge ethics by the consequences of the action. Many would say that Hanna didn't have a...more
Cheryl A
Lauren O'Farrell is an art detective, specializing in retrieving works stolen by the Nazis and returning them to their rightful owners. During her investigations, she learns of a Munich art dealer, Hanna Fleischmann, who may have collaborated with the Nazis. Lauren tracks down Hanna's daughter, the elderly Isabella Fletcher, hoping to learn more about Hanna's activities during the war. What Lauren find out is shocking - a priceless Kandinsky painting may have survived Hitler's destruction of mod...more
A link to the author's website: I am wondering how much of this story is true and how much is fiction. I chose not to read this book because there really is very little in the book about synesthesia!

Oh, look at this: Not only Kandinsky, but also Nabokov had synestheisa. To a small extent it comes up in his memoir Speak, Memory, which I must soon read.

On the topic of synesthesia these books also look interesting:

I was impressed by the local Wellington Library. I put this book in as a request to buy, and then within a month it was on the shelf waiting for me, and boy I do like me a brand new book to read.

I like a bit of historical second world war drama to read, and this was the basis of the story. Lauren O'Farrell is an art detective, who is invited into the home of eighty two year old Isabella Fletcher to help find out about Isabellas mothers past.

Her mother as a teenager, leaves the family farm to go...more
My small book group (3 of us) read this and pretty much all agreed. The neurological phenomenon included in the title is not a major part of the story; seemed that it had potential to tell the reader more about this as well as make the character more interesting. The juxtaposition of the current characters (young woman searching for art stolen by the Nazis along with Isabelle, the elderly daughter of the story's main character) are not particularly interesting and seem unnecessary. The main char...more
Generally I adore novels that use the past and present plot threads to weave historical tales that hold a grip on the lives of today's characters. Unfortunately, that particular plot device didn't work for me in this novel. The modern scenes felt contrived, redundant and occasionally amateur. The best writing took place in Germany between the wars. I was rooting for Hanna but the older she got, the more of her life was glossed over-- I guess I wanted her story to sing for me like the colors of a...more
May 10, 2012 Becca rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lovers of Mystery, Historical Fiction, and Art
I really liked the plot of this story as well as the characters. The character development was top notch. The story was one I don't remember ever hearing about before, letting alone reading, so it was refreshing to encounter some actual creativity. My only complaint is that there was a lot of telling as oppose to showing in the descriptions of things and that made it tedious at times. Overall, though, it was a great story.
I loved the idea of synesthesia and that the main character had this trait in common with Kandinsky, which gave his paintings so much more meaning for her. I really hated the cover art. Way to pimp up a story that really isn't an erotic one. Not that the author can help what liberties the publisher cares to commit in the name of marketing.
A Stone
I am halfway through this book and am going to do what I rarely do, not finish. The labored attempt to turn a history lecture into fiction is too exhausting for me. I have absolutely no investment in any of the characters. I agree with another reviewer who said the cover art belies the feel of this book. Reading it feels like work to me.
I posted about this book on my blog for the monthly "What's on Your Nightstand" link up. At that point, I was a little over half way done with the book. My opinion at that point in time and at the conclusion of the novel are the same; the historical section is interesting but the modern day chapters are rather boring.

Plus, I thought it was really odd that the past was being told to the reader at the same time that we are seeing the present characters discuss those same past events. "I'll tell '...more
Susan Chapman
This book had potential, but I found it somewhat disappointing. The synesthesia element was sort of a red herring. The switching between present day and Hanna's history was not fluid and resulted in a lot of repetition. It's a WWII story with an art history hook. Not bad, just not great.
Don't let the cover fool you - it is not a sappy romance book. This is a story within a story about a woman trying to recover art lost during WWII and a young woman during that war struggling to save the precious art she loved so much. I really enjoyed this book!
Loved this story on how those who lived in Germany during Hitlers rule were affected, controlled and struggled during this time. Moving story.

First off I have to say I do not care for this cover; it smacks of cheesy romance or light chick lit. There's nothing wrong with romance or chick-lit but it definitely does not do justice to this wonderful story. Get past that and what you find inside is an intriguing story set during two different time frames. Kelly Jones did a terrific job of seamlessly shifting between pre WWII Germany and modern day New York City.

Isabella tells Lauren it's about time the story of her mother, Hanna Schmidt, a...more
Lauren O’Farrell tracks down priceless art work. Pieces that were thought to be lost and acquired illegally. Lauren’s latest job has led her to the house of Mrs. Isabella Fletcher. Supposedly, Isabella’s mother, Hanna collaborated with the Nazis. Lauren comes with the pretense that she was doing some investigating for a liability suit. Of course, now that Lauren has been invited into the home, she must think of a way to approach Mrs. Fletcher on the real reason she is there. Before she can, Isab...more
Lauren O’Farell a obtenu un rendez-vous avec Isabella Fletcher sous le prétexte d’une enquête de voisinage. En réalité, Lauren, qui est spécialisée dans la recherche des œuvres d’arts détournées par le régime nazi et dans l’identification des tableaux dont l’origine est incertaine, s’intéresse à la mère d’Isabella Fletcher, qu’elle soupçonne d’avoir aidé le régime nazi dans la confiscation des oeuvres volées aux Juifs et de s’être peut-être personnellement enrichie. Isabella n’est pas dupe et sa...more
This is one of my favorite books. I love the storyline, I love the art, and I love the characters. I recently have started to read Historical Fiction, and now I took a dive into art historical fiction. What a story, I was taken in from the start and enjoyed the whole thing. I liked how we bounced from the present to past. Isabella is telling a story of Hanna, her mother, during the early 1900s till WWII. Even Isabella doesn't know the whole story, so we get to go with Hanna in the past and live...more
What a great book. I like stories that are told in the present about the past. And I really liked this one because the storyteller, Isabella, is explaining to an art detective the story of her mother's life. And when the story goes back into the past to tell the story about Hanna, the mother, the daughter doesn't really know the whole truth about what happened with her mother. Hanna was a couragous woman who tried to save art from the destruction of Hitler at the beginning of World War II. Hanna...more
I actually cried....
Review to come after Monday's bookclub meeting!

After the meeting:

I loved this book. And I do mean loved. We picked this novel up on a whim at our local bookstore last month and decided to give it a try for our book club. It most definitely was not a mistake.

A contemporary art historian/detective (Lauren) schedules a meeting with a woman (Isabella) whose mother (Hannah) worked for Hitler in WWII. The chapters alternate between 2009 - Lauren and Isabella's story - and the ear...more
I enjoyed this book a lot. Perhaps it is because I liked learning a little more about Germany in World War II, and there is an interesting story of a young girl who has a gift for recognizing art and seeing color. Hannah marries a Jewish man named Moses Fleischmann. Perhaps it is because I have an interest in mondern art and I liked looking up through "google" artists such as Cezanne, Kadinsky, Marc, Van Gogh, Picasso, and more. The author captured the feelings and fear of the people in Germany,...more
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Kelly Jones grew up in Twin Falls, Idaho. She graduated from Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington, with a degree in English and an art minor. During her junior year in Italy she developed a love for both travel and art history.
The Woman Who Heard Color (Berkley Books, October, 2011), is a historical novel set in Munich, Berlin, and New York. A story of family loyalty, banned art, and creativ...more
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