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Skeletons At The Feast

3.97 of 5 stars 3.97  ·  rating details  ·  16,586 ratings  ·  1,931 reviews
Set in the last few months of the Second World War, this is the powerful and moving story of a small group of people, including a young Scottish prisoner-of-war, on the run from the advancing Russian army.
Paperback, 384 pages
Published 2008 by Three Rivers Press
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Jamie Beersheba is in Israel. Rebekah escaped to Israel, and like Uri, had no desire to return to Europe. The man she met in the bar seemed to be a…moreBeersheba is in Israel. Rebekah escaped to Israel, and like Uri, had no desire to return to Europe. The man she met in the bar seemed to be a boyfriend or romantic prospect, leading me to believe that she was happily leading her life. (less)
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Community Reviews

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Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways
Rating: 0.125* of five

GHASTLY. Made me so angry that I got out of my warm bed, got dressed, and drove to the next town to heave this drivel-fest into the local cathedral's charity bin, thus ensuring that only some Catholic would be subjected to it. Their happiness I don't care about protecting.

The finger-in-the-chest, accusatory "You ride your horse over the Jew" (paraphrase, not a quote) section made me so furiously angry that I scared the dog yelling at the book.

If you're a little slow on the

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This book has left me kind of speechless. I’ve been sitting here trying to figure out how to review it. It is a book I will never forget. It will be right up there with my favorite books EVER. It is very sad. It is horrifying at times. But in the end, it left me with a feeling of awe for the human soul and what is can endure in the face of unspeakable suffering.

The plot summary below was taken from Wiki… but put it all together better than I could.

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The plot of the story cent
Every sentence is worth listening to. Every word.

Why read another book about the horror of World War II? Because it teaches us why life is worth living.

I would change nothing about this book. Nothing!

I listened to the audiobook, narrated by Mark Bramhall. The narration is slow, but it should be slow so you can think about every word, and ponder what those words mean, consider what we think ourselves. Would this happen, this way? Would I react similarly? Could he behave any differently?

You ca
Dav'ne (Davney)
One of the few WWII books I've read that is told from the German viewpoint. The brutality is frightening even after all these years. I remember my German Oma had nothing but bad to say about Adolph Hitler. She still had family in Germany in the 50s and they didn't have anything good to say about him. I also had a friend in WI who was in her 70s and had been a Hitler youth. It was interesting to talk with her about how they never questioned and how the whole "Jewish situation" was not believed by ...more
Allison (The Allure of Books)
I can handle reading a lot of fantasy violence and torture, because, no matter how connected to the characters I am-I know on some level as I’m reading that it did NOT happen. So, when I picked up Skeletons I knew that would be different, and I was right. Even the smallest acts of cruelty in this book twisted my guts because I know that what the Jews went through during the Holocaust is absolute reality. Just thinking about it makes me feel sick. So, in a way, this book was the opposite of fanta ...more
Skeletons at the Feast took me to a dark place - the Holocaust. If there weren't so many great books written about this black mark of the world's history, I would ban myself from reading any books on this topic in the future. I hate that such a horrific occurrence is repeatedly used as bait for novelists.

Bohjalian is a good author, though, and does a good job developing his characters, giving them interesting conflict, all the while threading bits of real history into his story that he obtained
Based on real diaries, this is a fascinating subject, but mishandled. Bohjalian seemed to be trying to hit readers over the head with the horrors of WWII.
Crystal Craig
Skeletons at the Feast was my second Chris Bohjalian novel. I enjoyed it far more than I did The Night Strangers, which was the first book I read written by him. The novel was one of the four group reads voted in for the month of April in my book club, Sweeter Reads. Yes, I know, I'm a little ahead of the game, but I'm going to be away the latter part of March; I'll be at the farm while our animals give birth. It's a very busy time, and I may not be able to get much reading done.

The main thing
Branwen *Blaidd Drwg*
"You forget pain. We all do. We tell ourselves that we remember the specifics, but its all just a lot of pictures and words in our heads. No sensations. I think we actually remember life's humiliations better. The degradations. The cruelties. But the pain? We seem to forget what pain actually feels like. It's like a cloud after the sky has cleared."

In 1945, as World War II is in its dying throes, a group of people cross Germany fleeing the incoming Russians in an attempt to reach safety in the B
this audio book has me running back to the car to take a drive... anywhere, anytime, just any opportunity to listen to more. It is a saga about a handful of people trying to get west from the ever encroaching Russians on the Eastern Front in Poland/Prussia at the end of WWII. You have the aristocratic Prussian family, sans menfolk, the Scottish POW who has worked for them as slave labor, the jew disguised as a German Officer in order to escape arrest and inevitable death, and you have the women ...more
Apr 14, 2010 Virginia rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Virginia by: Jennifer Entwistle
Bohjalian got me with this one, as he has in the two other books of his I've read. It took me about 1/4 of the way into it to get hooked, but I stayed up until 1 am last night reading it. His writing is really quite nice, possibly underrated. His storytelling is incredibly compelling.

There are several stories woven together in this book, the main being the plight of an aristocratic Prussian family forced to march west in the waning months of WWII. The horrors and atrocities of the war are on ful
Blech. I have heard such good things about Chris Bohjalian, but I must say I was deeply disappointed. This book was based loosely on an actual journal kept by a German woman who fled the Russians as they swept into Germany at the end of World War II. The plot had such great potential! So many issues though.
1. The character development was stale. The characters didn't change over the course of the novel, even in the face of life-changing circumstances (loss of loved ones; leaving one's home behin
This book is very average.

I was annoyed with his writting style of frequently interrupting sentences with dashes/breaks, adding in an afterthought or additional information. The interruptions sometimes were so long I had to re-read the sentence to remember the original thought. I felt like it was very choppy, with the "---" (dashes/breaks) being overused. I also needed to re-read sections because it was not entirely clear which character's thoughts I was reading.

As far as the story's violence
Amazing story!!! Excellent writing!!! I loved every moment of this book. Chris Bohjalian brought to life, in vivid reality, this horrific period of history that is still so unimaginable; it's still so unbelievable that these atrocities actually happened. Through the various character's eyes the reader was able to experience the emotions during this time period. From death to life, despair to hope, grief to love, hatred to kindness. My favorite book this year... a must-read!
There have been many books focusing on the Holocaust and World War Two, and Chris Bohjalian sets himself quite a task when he set out to write the story (based in part by a personal diary ) set in the waning months of World War two.

But this story is told in a different manner to many of the fictionalised books out there as the author takes on the difficult task of telling this story from many points of view.

A Prussian family, a Scottish POW assigned to work on their farm, and a Jew disguised a
Sep 06, 2008 Candice rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Ellen, readers of Holocaust literature
This was a fantastic book - another look at World War II and the Holocaust. This time frame is toward the end of the war, when it has become obvious that Germany will lose, and as the Soviet forces are moving westward.

There are basically three stories that come together. A family of well-to-do German farmers, the Emmerichs, living in what was then the western part of Poland, leaves their comfortable farm just ahead of the Soviet tanks and seeks refuge with the Allies. With them is a Scottish pri
Chris Bohjalian is a master of getting inside the heads of his characters. This WWII novel feels very much like fist-person accounts of the final year of the war in Prussia/Germany. We get the picture from the perspectives of German refugees fleeing the Russians, a Scottish POW traveling with them, a Jewish man masquerading as a soldier and a Jewish woman in a work/death camp. Much of the story is gruesome and all of it is tragic, but there's enough heart and humanity to keep readers engaged. Bo ...more
The thing about history and the subsequent historical fiction reads, is the opportunity to view events from a different perspective. It can enhance and enlighten what you may already know. Chris Bohjalian’s Skeletons at the Feast provided a viewpoint that many may have not thought about. It made the book a very dramatic and powerful read.

After reading my first Bohjalian book, The Light in the Ruins, I was expecting Skeletons at the Feast to be another well-written book. I thought he manages to c
Chris Bohjalian is becomming one of my new favorite authors. This book was outstanding.
Outlining the brutal landscape of Nazi Germany as German refugees struggle westward ahead of the advancing Russian army.the novel exhumes the ruin of spirit, flesh and faith that accompanied thousands of such desperate journeys. Prussian aristocrat Rolf Emmerich and his two elder sons are sent into battle, while his wife flees with their other children and a Scottish POW who has been working on their estate.
Oh where to start. This was a huge disappointment. 2 stars is only possible because the writing was alright. It is the "EVERYTHING ELSE" that was the problem. This would have landed square on top of my DNF pile with a resolute thud if I didn't need to read this and if I hadn't already vested an hour and half into it.

This book was one big tragedy parade. The first half was simply gruesome and appalling. It was like the author googled WWII horrors and squished every single one of them into the fir
Skeletons at the Feast explored an area of Nazi Germany few books I’ve read have explored — the people living in Germany, or those who considered themselves Germans, who were not intimately involved in the Nazi’s crimes against humanity.

“When this war was over, he and his family — all Germans — were going to have to live with the black mark of this (whatever this was) for a long, long time.” {pg. 192}

Anna, Mutti, and Theo are well-to-do Prussian beet farmers — who have always considered themsel
Jan 14, 2009 Jody rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Jody by: Chris Bohjalian
I learned that Chris Bohjalian does not need to stick to just Vermont books.

I have to say that I was a little nervous. I love Chris Bohjalian because he writes about Vermont. He understands Vermonters. If you are not from Vermont and you think that it is a tiny little state and do not understand the type of people who live there, then you should read one of his other books, like Water Witches. It captures what it is like to be from small town Vermont. That being said I was a little apprehensive
Christine Roberts
"Skeletons at the Feast" was my third novel by Chris Bohjalian, and it brought me back to what I had loved about the first book of his that I had read (Midwives). His writing style is so beautiful and so immersive that the reader cannot help but get lost in it. His characters, particularly the female ones, are wonderfully thought out and remarkably constant in the dangerous world he places them in. Overall, not as fantastic as Midwives but miles ahead of The Night Strangers.
This was hard to put down even during the very graphic scenes of death and violence. I fell in love with all the characters and how they dealt with their predicaments. There was an interesting perspective given on the whys and wherefores of the Russian army's treatment of the Germans--that the Germans simply had asked for it. Not to over-simplify things, but, yes, the Russians were barbarians, but so were the Germans. Then the English were accused of the same when they bombed the crap out of Dre ...more
A German family must flee their home and head west to try to outrun the Russian army. A young French Jewish girl is living through the atrocities of a concentration camp and death marches. This story is told from a variety of viewpoints (Cecile, the French girl; Anna, the German daughter; Theo, the German son; Callum, the Scottish POW; Uri, the vigilante Jew living a double life) which makes for a very interesting story. It is moving, deeply disturbing, and shows the horror of war. Recommended i ...more
A compelling, must-read book. It made me wonder if I would have been one of the survivors of WWII or just another fatality statistic. This story showed there aren't always clear distinctions between war heroes & war criminals - but the one truth that rang through loud & clear: in any war, there are no winners - just those who survive & those who don't.
Right now, Chris Bohjalian is my favorite author (even if I can't pronounce his last name). This is not one of his strongest books, but neither is this his weakest--by far.

Clearly, when you look at his entire body of work, Bohjalian enjoys creating suspense by presenting a single (in many ways ancillary) question to the reader early on in the tale. What did Connie's mom know? (Midwives) Why is the main character so damned well-adjusted after a brutal rape? (The Double Bind) What happened to Ann
Powerful, powerful book, set in the last days of WWII. Characters were well drawn and the descriptions of the plight of all, from the Prussian aristocracy fleeing the oncoming Russians, to the Jewish POWs is superbly told. Callum, Uri, Theo, Anna are all characters who will haunt the memory. The interplay between three unfolding, and sometimes interweaving stories, was well crafted.

This book and the last one of Bohjalian's that I read (The Double Bind) have once again moved this author back into
Wow, best Bohjalian I have read. In my previous review of his work I said he has a tendency to go on for too long...his books can drag a little at times. Not this book!

The story is set in the waning days of WWII in Germany. The Russians are pouring in from the east; raping, pillaging, and seeking revenge for the many atrocities the German soldiers had been inflicting upon Russian citizens earlier in the war. German citizens are packing whatever they can and fleeing to the west, hoping to surren
I am intrigued by books about WWII, reading anything I can get my hands on. This. Was Special. The author allowed us to experience the war from several different perspectives, but I think this is the first time I've read what it was like to be a German living in Germany at the time - supporting your country, only to learn that those in power have been lying to you all along. At least this was the take on it...I know people argue against the idea that the German population didn't actually know wh ...more
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Rebecca (spoiler alert) 4 61 Oct 01, 2014 12:09PM  
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Lincoln, Vermont’s Chris Bohjalian is the author of 17 books, including ten New York Times bestsellers. His work has been translated into roughly 30 languages and three times become movies.

The paperback of his most recent novel, Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands, was just published.

His books have been chosen as Best Books of the Year by the Washington Post, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Hartford Cour
More about Chris Bohjalian...
Midwives The Sandcastle Girls The Double Bind The Light in the Ruins The Night Strangers

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“She didn't care so much whether the world would ever forgive her people; but she did hope that someday, somehow, she would be able to forgive herself.” 5 likes
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