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The Vision Of Emma Blau (Burgdorf Cycle #3)

3.66  ·  Rating Details ·  2,434 Ratings  ·  204 Reviews
If you knew that you would experience significant love just once in your life, would you want these years at the beginning, or at the end? This is the luminous epic of a bicultural family filled with passion and aspirations, tragedy and redemption.
Paperback, 432 pages
Published August 6th 2001 by Scribner (first published 2000)
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Dec 12, 2008 Shelley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ursula Hegi is magnificent! The way she captures the emotions and inner motivations that lead to the consequences and reactions of the characters is so realistic it transforms the reader. We learn about each character through their own narrative, in their own time, as this story spans generations of a German-American family from 1909 until very nearly the present. I was most taken with the amazing transition from descriptive narrative and dialogue into the unspoken thoughts of the character, rev ...more
Bonnie G
Jul 04, 2012 Bonnie G rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was really taken by this book. The Wasserburg apartment building is the central character, very clever device, I think. Within it many characters are drawn in clever ways. I especially liked the depiction of how Germans in America felt during the wars, as all my relatives must have gone through some of the same feelings. Suspected for being "one of them." I also liked the description of the bond between Emma and her grandfather. Although it became obsessive, it was a deep link that we all feel ...more
JG (The Introverted Reader)
Dec 07, 2008 JG (The Introverted Reader) rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to JG (The Introverted Reader) by: Pat
Stefan Blau runs away from his home in Germany when he is a young man. He's always dreamed of living in America. He eventually finds himself in New Hampshire, building a beautiful apartment building, running a restaurant, and doing his best to provide for his family.

Honestly, this book might have suffered from too many interruptions. My review is definitely suffering from allowing too much time to go by between finishing the book and reviewing it.

I mostly enjoyed this, my problem was that I felt
Kathryn Bashaar
May 19, 2016 Kathryn Bashaar rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I used to love multi-generational family sagas, and I still occasionally pick one up. This book traced the history of a German-American family from grandfather Stefan's arrival in America in 1894 - alone at age 13 - through his granddaughter Emma's desperate determination to maintain the his grand, aging apartment building in the 1980s. The building has a lot of symbolism in the story. There's always a shadow hanging over it. Stefan never paid back the loan his in-laws made to him to build it. I ...more
Jul 17, 2011 Tifnie rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Ohhh...the dregs of reading this book.

At first I thought I lost my "zest" for reading when in reality I lost my appetite for reading this book. Many times over I would have to glance at the cover to re-read the author's name - not sure if Ursula Hegi was a woman. She has a very masculine prespective.

Well, let's see, The Vision of Emma Blau isn't entirely about Miss Emma but rather her lineage. Her Grandpa, Stefen Blau, ran away from Germany to America at a ripe, young age and stared a new life,
Mar 29, 2012 Biogeek rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Ursula Hegi's three generation family saga starts brilliantly and ends well, but in the middle, it becomes cumbersome and tiring. In movie trilogies, the second episode often seems like it is only there to connect the first and the third. I felt the same way about the middle generation in this story of the family started by a German immigrant at the turn of the 20th century. Like the apartment block he envisions, builds, protects and loves, his family also begins to develop fractures and cracks ...more
Sep 17, 2007 Abigail rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Immigrant story readers, Generational American family
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 15, 2017 Cynthia rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Great beginning to this multi-generational story. Blah, blah, blah... weak begets and uninteresting characters. Too much nothing in middle... do they pad a story to sell a thicker book? Poor Stefen, the first and the last. I guess Emma's vision was lost on me.
May 08, 2016 TrudyAn rated it really liked it
This was definitely worth reading, though not as engrossing as Stones from the River. Hegi is a wonderful storyteller; her writing is rich and emotional.

This is a multi-generational saga. German immigrant, Stefan Blau, builds an upscale (for its day) apartment building on the shores of a New Hampshire lake. The Wasserburg building becomes a central character, its relevance to the family and the community is transformed through the generations. The relationship of some of the family with the buil
Oct 16, 2008 Skye rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I feel like I've been giving too many 4 star ratings lately. If I could have given 3 1/2 I would have. Take that as you will.
I'm a giant sucker for epic, multigenerational family stories, so in that vein, this was perfect. But I felt that some eras were much better fleshed out than others; for instance, I never really got to know Emma, despite her being the title character, Yvonne was a bit 2-dimensional, and I felt that Greta's personality read a little flat; more could have been done with her
May 23, 2014 Katherine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014-books
I tend to love character driven stories like The Vision of Emma Blau that span multiple generations. Combined with Ursula Hegi's terrific writing and insights, this made for a great read. The Vision of Emma Blau is a spinoff of Stones from the River, detailing the parallel story that starts with Stephen Blau running away from Bergdorf to find his way in America. He finally settles in New Hampshire and the story follows his family for several generations. I knocked a star only because I liked Sto ...more
Jan 06, 2014 Debbie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ursula Hegi, author of Stones From The River which I read a few years ago and thought then of what an imagination to write a story of a dwarf girl living in a small village in Germany. Now to take some of those same characters and bring them to America at the turn of the century and to live the experiences of being a German immigrant especially as they were looked down upon during both WWI and WWII. Hegi is a detailed writer, thoughtful and entertaining.
Mar 08, 2014 Maryanna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
While decades and centuries pass, needs, desires, aspirations, and failings remain the same. While the similarities are recognizable, human knowledge based on scientific research has advanced our ability to "perhaps" face failings and fragility in ourself and others realistically and with compassion.
Sharon Huether
Immigrants comming to America from Germany.
They had hope, visions of success and keeping the family close. This book expounds on every facet of their lives and the lives of the three generations that lived together in one house.
It was a beautifully written story.
May 13, 2014 Lori rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Loved Stones from the River - this one didn't capture me as much. I remain interested in the experiences of everyday German citizens before , during and after WWII, so will read more of her books.
Joslyn Allen
Review published: https://chronicbibliophilia.wordpress...

“Had he known how the Wasserburg would seduce and corrupt him and his family, Stefan Blau would have taken the train back to New York that day, but to detect rot is often impossible in its early stages: it starts beneath lush surfaces, spreading its sweet-nasty pulp, tainting memories and convictions. It entangles. Justifies. But what Stefan saw that summer afternoon was only the splendor of the Wasserburg as it would be the day he would
Anne Marie
This book takes us to America, New Hampshire to be exact, where Stefan Blau ended up when he ran away from his home in Burgdorf, Germany when he was thirteen in 1894. He had big dreams, and made them reality when he built The Wasserburg, an apartment building, and also owned a successful restaurant. Elizabeth Flynn, his first wife, had a daughter, Greta. When Elizabeth died, Stefan married Sara Penn. She had Agnes, who died, and Tobias. Sara died, and Stefan went back to his home town where he a ...more
Nov 01, 2016 Liebermann rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Would probably be a 4 for others. I loved the German nursery rhymes, references to Oma and Opa, etc. that reminded me of my grandparents, etc.
Mar 05, 2010 Mimi rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ursula Hegi is a truly gifted writer with a magical ability to bring a story to life vividly. STONES FROM THE RIVER, my first literary encounter with Ms. Hegi's work, was one of my favorite books so naturally I was looking forward to reading THE VISION OF EMMA BLAU, which is a spin-off of the previously mentioned novel. Stefan Blau was the son of 2 of the villagers in Trudi Montag's hometown in Germany who ran away to America when he was 13 years old - this is the story of his American legacy.

Lora Shouse
Aug 24, 2015 Lora Shouse rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A great family saga covering nearly 100 years of the Blau family’s history in America. Early in the twentieth century, Stefan Blau comes to America, and dreams of building a fine apartment building. Long before the building is ever built, he has a vision in which he sees a little girl playing in front of the building. Years pass. He marries an American blonde beauty. Her parents are able to lend him the money to start building the apartment building. They have a daughter, but the young wife dies ...more
Beautiful, descriptive writing, but ultimately disappointing.

SO MUCH FORESHADOWING had me waiting on the edge of my seat for the calamity that was going to befall this unfortunate family. It would have to do with the house, obviously, but not a fire since Stefan had built it so securely against fire. Collapse? The heaviness of the fire-proofing seemed to foreshadow a tragedy related to its weight. Tornado, maybe? Multi-generational lead poisoning? Nope. Family strife. And it barely even takes p
This was a good book, although not as good as Stones from the River, by the same author. I wouldn't call this a 'sequel' although there is some character overlap. The two books stand alone though. The strength of this book lies in its characters. Everyone is likeable yet flawed, but not overly-flawed. Some, more flawed than others. Some, more likeable than others. Even the "bit" characters are wonderful. I especially liked the way the characters interacted. How they loved and fought like real pe ...more
Jan 29, 2011 Linda rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Teen-aged Stefan Blau runs away from his family in Germany to America where he learns his trade as a chef. He settles in a small New Hampshire town, marries and starts and family, and eventually builds a splendid six-story apartment house on the shores of Lake Winnepesaukee. Aha, I thought, this is the book for me. I like multigenerational stories, and I know some of the little towns near “the lake” in central New Hampshire. But the setting never really came alive for me; the story could have ta ...more
Annelie Bernar
Sep 18, 2016 Annelie Bernar rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In questo romanzo ho ritrovato la scrittura dell'autrice, che già mi aveva affascinato in "Come pietre sul fiume", una scrittura che spesso da prosa si fa poesia. Sebbene il libro sia abbastanza corposo, la storia è abbastanza scorrevole e la trama molto avvincente. Si parla delle persone che decidono di dare una svolta alla propria vita per iniziarne un'altra altrove, delle ambizioni , delle aspettative e delle delusioni, dello scontro tra due culture diverse, delle difficoltà di inserimento in ...more
Davis Aujourd'hui
Oct 08, 2009 Davis Aujourd'hui rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was an avid fan of Stones from the River. This new book features the American side of that family. It is a book that crosses cultures and provides a rich exploration of generations within the same family. It explores the impact that one generation can have on the next. Most importantly, it focuses upon the quality of love and forgiveness and the lasting positive impact that those qualities can provide.

This provides the book with a deeply spiritual theme. As the author of a spiritually-themed n
Hmmm. This is a difficult one to categorize. I loved the first two books in the "cycle" (I feel compelled to put quotes around the word because it feels like this was not meant to be a series per se, but rather something that perhaps a publisher suggested in order to capitalize on the success of "Stones From the River."). This novel however lacks the coherence of those previous entries. It was wildly uneven, and so great description was given to things such as Robert's alter ego, Fatboy, while a ...more
Jun 29, 2009 Anna rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book landed on my to-read list because I have a particular affinity for books that include a house as a character. The Vision of Emma Blau certainly hits the mark with the Wasserburg taking center stage. While I enjoyed the detailed descriptions of this fascinating place and the people involved with it, my appreciation for this book ends there.

While Hegi's writing is rich and emotional, this book has an overall feeling of melancholy. The first portion of the book was enhanced by some light
Terri Jacobson
May 31, 2012 Terri Jacobson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This book is a companion novel to Stones from the River. Stones from the River is an outstanding novel which follows the lives of citizens of the German town Burgdorf. The Vision of Emma Blau follows some of the characters from the earlier work. It is a huge family saga about the lives of Stephan Blau and his family, from the years 1894-1990. Blau leaves Germany when he is just a teen-ager, and the book chronicles his life in America. The books share some of the same characters from the town Bur ...more
I recently read "Stones on the River", so I was interested to read this book. While "Stones" is about the Blau family during the times of WWI and WWII, the "Vision of Emma Blau" is about the other side of the Blau family, those who left and lived in the US.

It is a book about the immigrant experience - outdoing Americans and being blamed for working hard. During WWII, the suspicious German accents set them apart from the neighbors that they have lived with for years.

The second half of the book
Joanna Cabot
Jan 15, 2016 Joanna Cabot rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was a great story. Parts of it were a little over-done (I disliked all those Italicized sections) and a few of the characters fell flat for me---why did she spend so much more time with adult Robert than with his compatriots Greta and Tobias?---but overall, I enjoyed this book immensely. As I have read the previous books in the series, it was fun to go back over the same characters, but from a different angle. The Robert/Trudi relationship takes on a different status given Helene's beh ...more
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Ursula Hegi is the author of Sacred Time, Hotel of the Saints, The Vision of Emma Blau, Tearing the Silence, Salt Dancers, Stones from the River, Floating in My Mother's Palm, Unearned Pleasures and Other Stories, Intrusions, and Trudi & Pia. She is the recipient of more than thirty grants and awards.
More about Ursula Hegi...

Other Books in the Series

Burgdorf Cycle (4 books)
  • Stones from the River
  • Floating in My Mother's Palm
  • Children and Fire

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