Skeletons At The Feast
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Skeletons At The Feast

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3.96 of 5 stars 3.96  ·  rating details  ·  13,369 ratings  ·  1,748 reviews
In January 1945, in the waning months of World War II, a small group of people begin the longest journey of their lives: an attempt to cross the remnants of the Third Reich to reach the British and American lines.
Among the group is 18-year-old Anna Emmerich, the daughter of Prussian aristocrats. There is her lover, Callum Finnella, a young Scottish prisoner of war who has...more
Paperback, 384 pages
Published 2008 by Three Rivers Press
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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...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
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
Chrissie
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...more
Lucy
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...more
Jen
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.
Sandy
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
Virginia
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...more
Emilie
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...more
Dem
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...more
Candice
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...more
Christina
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...more
Jody
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...more
Renee
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....more
Magen
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...more
☮Karen
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
Erika
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
Donna
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.
Megan
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...more
bookczuk
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...more
Jill
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...more
readinghearts (Lyn M)
Jun 28, 2010 readinghearts (Lyn M) rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lynne Sindel, Joe Meadows,
Skeletons at the Feast is Chris Bohjalian's book about the ending of WWII. Like most books about the war, it is a story about human brutalities, but also about the ability to survive those brutalities and find love. Unlike most books about WWII, at least those in English, it does not center only on The Third Reich's inhumanity, but on both the brutalities and the resilience of all sides in the conflict. Bohjalian highlights not only the plight of the Jewish people, but the naiveté of a large seg...more
Audra
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
JG (The Introverted Reader)
Skeletons at the Feast is loosely based on a true story and set in the last few months of World War II. The Nazis were beaten but they hadn't admitted it yet and the everyday German people had a feeling they were beaten so they started running from the advancing Russian armies. This book follows the Emmerich family and a Scottish POW who has been working on their farm as they set out to cross Germany ahead of the Russian army in the heart of the German winter. Other characters in the book includ...more
Pamela
Was unsure what to rate this book, as it's kind of hard to say that you enjoyed reading a story about the Holocaust. And to tell the truth, there was a lot of this book that I didn't enjoy. It's evident that Bohjalian thoroughly researches all his topics before writing on them - the depth of knowledge for each of his books is astonishing - but at times this book was too graphic for me. The details were too gory and disturbing, and sometimes I felt as though he was just restating some of the horr...more
Kim
I have loved every book that I've read by Mr Bohjalian & I'm just about to begin page 1 ....
Once again - Chris Bohjalian doesn't disappoint. I wasn't sure that I was going to love this book as it took me out of New England & off to wartime Europe. However, Mr Bohjalian did (once again) give the characters the primary role & the time & place served only as support for the inter-relationships that grip the reader. I found myself riveted by each character in this story. They came in...more
Carol Hunter
This is the second book I've read by this author and I love his work. I got very little sleep last night because I had to keep reading. This is a masterfully done work that explores a group of people crossing Germany at the end of WWII and trying to escape the advancing Russian army. They are a Prussian family, a Scottish prisoner of war and a Jew from Germany who has disguised himself as a German soldier. We also follow young Jewish women who are getting moved from their concentration camp on a...more
Jeanette
The best part of this book is when the author lists the sources he used to write this book. I am going to add those books to my list of books to read.
I did not actually read all this book. Pretty early on I just started skimming through it and then I read the end. I was turned off by the explicit and needless graphic descriptions of Anna and Callum's relationship. I really hate reading books that are gratuitous just for the sake of being gratuitous.
The author also clearly did his research and g...more
Mary Catherine
This is very different from Bohjalian's other books. This one is set at the end of World War II and focuses on a Prussian family forced to trek west to avoid the Russian soldiers who are advancing toward Berlin. It's a part of the war that I haven't read much about. I was drawn into the characters' struggles, both physical (walking for days on end in the bitter cold) and mental (Nazi sympathizers coming to terms with the realities of Hitler's inhumanity).
Allison
I loved this book. Read it. Read ALL of Chris Bohjalian's books, I have loved them all. This is historical fiction about WWII and followed a German family who are forced to flee their home because of Russian invasion. It was interesting to see the flip side of the war for Germans who were not Nazi's and some who didn't even beleive that that the Holocaust was happening until they witnessed the creulty with their own eyes. Well researched and well written.
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Rebecca (spoiler alert) 2 39 Sep 02, 2013 09:42AM  
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Chris Bohjalian is the author of seventeen books, including Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands, arriving July 8, 2014 from Doubleday.

His other books include such New York Times bestsellers as The Light in the Ruins, The Sandcastle Girls, The Night Strangers, Secrets of Eden, Skeletons at the Feast, The Double Bind, Before Your Know Kindness, and Midwives.

Chris's awards include the ANCA Arts and Letters...more
More about Chris Bohjalian...
Midwives The Double Bind The Sandcastle Girls 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.” 4 likes
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