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Skeletons at the Feast

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3.98  ·  Rating Details  ·  18,461 Ratings  ·  2,077 Reviews
A masterful love story set against a backdrop of epic history and unforgettable courage

In the waning months of World War II, a small group of people begin the longest journey of their lives.

At the center is eighteen-year-old Anna, the daughter of Prussian aristocrats, and her first love, a twenty-year-old Scottish prisoner of war named Callum. With his boyish good looks an
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Paperback, 363 pages
Published February 10th 2009 by Broadway Books (first published 2008)
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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

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Chrissie
May 15, 2016 Chrissie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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Richard Derus
Jun 11, 2013 Richard Derus rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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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Karen
Jan 22, 2015 Karen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
5 SOLID

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Exceptional.

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
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Dav'ne  Stahley
Aug 06, 2010 Dav'ne Stahley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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Lucy
Dec 24, 2008 Lucy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Jen
Jun 10, 2008 Jen rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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.
Branwen Sedai *of the White Ajah*
"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
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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 really liked it  ·  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
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Emilie
Sep 22, 2008 Emilie rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Magen
Aug 03, 2012 Magen rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Karen
May 13, 2015 Karen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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!
Dem
Aug 21, 2012 Dem rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: war
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
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Candice
Sep 06, 2008 Candice rated it it was amazing  ·  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
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☮Karen
Jun 24, 2012 ☮Karen rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, wwii
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
Alena
Mar 16, 2015 Alena rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Leslie
Apr 11, 2015 Leslie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of Chris Bohjalian and historical fiction books
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
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Imi
A disappointment despite the intriguing subject matter. I was excited to read about this period from a new perspective, but this didn't work for me.

The violence seemed overly gratuitous and graphic in parts (particularly in the first half). Of course, when I picked this up, I was expecting to read about the horrors of war, but I don't think the author handled the subject very well. I understand these atrocities really happened, but it seemed like Bohjalian felt he had cram in as many of them as
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Phyllis
Dec 01, 2015 Phyllis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the fourth book by Chris Bohjalian that I have read and it is my favorite. It's WWII in Germany and The story follows a German family, a Jewish woman going from work camp to work camp, a Jewish man who jumps off a train and hides out as a German soldier, and a POW from Scotland living with the German family. It's nearing the end of the war and the Russians are advancing from the east and the British and Americans are advancing from the west and thousands of refugees are on the move. Chri ...more
Sara Steger
Nov 17, 2015 Sara Steger rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: world-war-2
Bohjalian ventures into the milieu of World War II Germany and tells the story of Anna Emmerich, a German girl living on the edge of Poland and her German family, who are Nazi party members. These are rural German's who are oblivious to the atrocities and turn a blind eye to the disappearances of people around them to relocation. It is the last days of the war, and the family is forced to flee before the oncoming Russian army. Accompanying them is a Scottish POW named Callum Finella who is given ...more
Donna
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
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Renee
Jun 06, 2008 Renee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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Sterlingcindysu
Apr 14, 2016 Sterlingcindysu rated it really liked it
3.5 rounded up. It's amazing how many books there are about WWII and each focuses on a different aspect of that history--here, it's when a family of German gentlemen farmers flee from the advancing Russians at the end of the war and worrying how Ivan will torture them, because of course the Russians are such savages. The fact that perhaps the Russians (and other Allies) are just doing these acts for revenge and the Germans are the real monsters is the real eye-opener.

Where does the phrase "skel
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Christina
Mar 13, 2011 Christina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Jody
Jan 14, 2009 Jody rated it it was amazing  ·  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
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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.
Erika
Jan 22, 2010 Erika rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 21, 2009 Donna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
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Rebecca (spoiler alert) 4 68 Oct 01, 2014 12:09PM  
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Lincoln, Vermont’s Chris Bohjalian is the author of 18 books, most of which were New York Times bestsellers. His work has been translated into over 30 languages and three times become movies.

Hi new novel, "The Guest Room," a story of a human trafficking, a marriage in crisis, and two remarkable women, just went on sale.

His books have been chosen as Best Books of the Year by the Washington Post, th
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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.” 6 likes
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