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The Pieces from Berlin

2.91 of 5 stars 2.91  ·  rating details  ·  116 ratings  ·  31 reviews
In the great disorder of wartime Berlin, Lucia Muller-Rossi was an unofficial star: mistress to an Ambassador, the whole world to her young son, and guardian of all the lovely things her Jewish friends were forced to leave behind as they took the trains tothe death camps. Sixty years later, one of those fine pieces sits for sale in the window of Lucia's antiques shop-- and ...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published February 10th 2004 by Vintage (first published January 1st 2002)
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Community Reviews

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Marilyn Lagier
The premise of the novel sounded interesting enough that I ripped the "calendar page" from the 2004 Book a Day calendar long ago. I finally got around to purchasing the novel. It revolved around an Italian woman, married to a Swiss man, who received goods from Jews living in Berlin during WW II. The goods ended up in her shop in Switzerland and years later, a woman passes by the window and spots a table she had owned. So, that certainly sounded intriguing. But then I began reading. The plot beca ...more
I'm interested in our contemporary struggle to return art and family treasures lost or stolen during the Nazi regime. Searching for reading material on the subject, this book cropped up in the library card catalogue.

It is a chilling novel that centers on the struggle to survive in Nazi Germany and the painful memories that linger decades later.

For me, this was not so much a book I sought to enjoy, but a subject I am eager to understand a bit more. Pye's novel offers some perspective on how Jewis
The pitfall of this book, for me at least, was the marketing. I was expecting a first-person narrative of events in 1940's Berlin detailing a woman's life before and during WWII, and the actions she takes in response. I wanted her story; I ached for her story throughout the entire novel. I wanted her motives, her thoughts, her actions, her circumstances. Instead, I received a roundabout novel about a granddaughter attempting to rid herself of inherited shame. I could not share completely in her ...more
Diana Petty-stone
Wartime Berlin, a rather unscrupulous Italian woman married to a Swiss soldier with a German son. A twisty jigsaw puzzle which eventually falls neatly into place.
Katy M
It was good, but it seemed a little disjointed and confusing.
A deep look into how survival fuels greed's grip. The past does not stay the past when it is ignored, instead it becomes a hidden prison that drives us to hide from the truth of living with our imperfections. Fascinating read that actually gave me pause to notice the ways what one experiences is a part of what one becomes...but the final chapter is still being written in our lives by what we choose now.
A quietly understated book that gradually gains momentum, until the final resolutions resonate like bomb shaken Berlin. An elderly woman sees a piece of her past in another old womans store and sets up of events that force all the characters to evaluate their roles in WWII and the consequences of decisions made or not made. Thought provoking , and not cliched, this book forces one to ask what they would have done in the same circumstances. We finally must conclude that evil, sugar-coated is evil ...more
based on true stories of berliners secreting fine art out of germany to switzerland, then selling said meissens, picassos, etc.. and making millions. this is the story of one such woman, and her family, and those that try to bring her to justice. its a good story, but i don't prefer author pye's style of "reportage" rather than narrative. that said, this is a significant novel and will be around for many long (centuries?) years, let us hope.
Tahlia Gray
The writing style was poor and hard to follow. I couldn't even finish it. Disappointing.
Michael Pye's underrated gift as a writer is the ability to portray the wholeness--good, bad, ordinary--of character through vivid observation of human action, reaction, and gesture. He makes you feel the very heart of humanness struggling to make personal autobiography meaningful--palatable even--in the face of the past's hard truths.
Apr 02, 2008 ~mad rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommended to ~mad by: Mary P
Shelves: booksiveread
I plugged my way through this one - I usually an interested in Nazi Germany and that time - this one was hard - would not recommend.
The story was very depressing on top of the subject matter. While I loke to read books of people who persevere, this one portrayed a woman with little or no remorse.

Don't bother. Sorry.....
eh - the book seemed to be in need of some editing. It didn't flow and lots of parts were just clunky in both dialouge and pace. It seemed to have the potential to be very interesting especially being based on a true events (the main character was based off a real person) but for some reason, it just didn't work.
A novel about the aftermath of WWII and the Jews whose property was stolen, as well as of the people who stole the property (mostly art work). Several generations are affected by the actions of one woman who, according to the way she justifies it, was just trying to provide for herself and her son.
An interesting topic that falls short due to some mediocre story-telling. The plot develops slowly and then characters are introduced, complications barely explained and nothing is ultimately settled. The short, choppy paragraphs left me feeling frustrated. Overall this felt incomplete.
Yet another book club tedious read. I couldn't care less about Lucia (the smuggler), her son Nicholas, or her granddaughter Helen. I did get one good quote out of it: "They were a closed society, not ready even for a biological intruder". Apt for childless couple who choose to be that way.
An interesting story about an ethically challenging topic. However, the author writes in an obtuse way that seems intended to infuse the story with depth, but instead just makes the descriptions of everything that happens somewhat vague.
It didn't really hold my attention that well until the second half (or less than that) but towards the end it did tie together nicely so I could appreciate the story more.
Another one I gave up on. It looks back at WWII in Europe in short, choppy sections made up of short, choppy sentences, and with little sense of story line.
Maybe I should clarify and say that the 4 stars is really for about 1/2-3/4 of the novel. I couldn't put it down at first, but the ending was anti-climatic.
A woman whose antiques business was based on selling items left in her care during WWII is confronted by a stranger who recognizes one of the items as her own.
What a snore. Anti-climactic, blah. The whole story is given away in the dust-jacket.

I want the last hour I spent finishing it back!
May 05, 2008 Carrie added it
Recommends it for: no one
It starts out so well, but the later half of the book is unreadable. No praise for this book. The writer really gave up half way through.
This novel takes place both in the present and in World War II. It lent itself to some good discussion points for my book club.
Jan 05, 2011 Megan is currently reading it
Shelves: surpisingly-bad
Not going to finish it this time, maybe give it a try another time but for now it goes under surprisingly bad!
curious writing style. The whole story is given away with the book jacket. thought it was anti-climactic.
Yet ANOTHER one of those books that has a fabulous cover, but anything but fabulous insides.
Very hard to read and understand. Only the last chapter was cohesive.
Rachel Blancette
This book keeps you thinking about it afterwards
Dutch editor: Lolies van Grunsven
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