Stones from the River
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Stones from the River (Burgdorf Cycle #1)

4.04 of 5 stars 4.04  ·  rating details  ·  54,258 ratings  ·  1,393 reviews
Oprah Book Club® Selection, February 1997: Ursula Hegi's Stones from the River clamors for comparisons to Gunter Grass's The Tin Drum; her protagonist Trudi Montag--like the unforgettable Oskar Mazerath--is a dwarf living in Germany during the two World Wars. To its credit, Stones does not wilt from the comparison. Hegi's book has a distinctive, appealing flavor of its own...more
Paperback, 528 pages
Published March 25th 1997 by Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing Group (first published 1994)
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E
This was an excellent book. I was astounded by Hegi's ability to capture both the everyday life of Germans over the 20-year span leading up to the end of WWII and the experience of a woman with dwarfism. Not once does she dramatize for the sake of Hollywood-like entertainment. Considering the standard treatments for both the topics of dwarfism and WWII, this is indeed a rare accomplishment.

I myself have dwarfism and am usually sick of the average portrayal of dwarfs in the media as either amusi...more
Jessica Reese
I found this book at a library sale, and ended up buying it because I like the way the first page read. Unlike many of the people who have reviewed this book I loved it from the beginning. Trudi's insight into the world is amazing, and while very mature for her age, with a slight mental leap, completely believable.

Ultimately this is a book about differences. When we begin the story, Trudi and her friend Georg are the outcasts, but as the plot progresses-- as the Nazi's gain more power and WWII...more
·Karen·
A sensitively imagined portrayal of a small German town in the fateful years between the first and second World Wars narrated from the perspective of an appealing main character who is both of the town in that she is the keeper of their secrets and the source of their gossip, but also other due to her diminutive size, there's a lot to like about this rich and colourful web of life. For me personally it has the added attraction of this fictional town being situated just down the road, the locatio...more
Carey McDonald
This was the first book I read with my new book club and I feel I need to rationalize the four- instead of five-star rating. The story is so important, and so deftly told, and the author does a great job of capturing the lives of citizens in a small German town from post-WWI through post-WWII. I felt like I came to know many of the characters personally. I cried several times. I had to really rethink what I know about history. And there were moments in the book where I literally had to stop read...more
Teresa Lukey
Right from the start I need to preface this review with the fact that I know my review will not do this story justice. It is a most eloquent story told through Trudi, a dwarf born in a small German town during WWI. This story actual begins during the first World War and continues through the second World War.

Trudi struggles with being a dwarf and hangs from her hands to stretch her body and tightly ties scarves around her head to keep it from getting any bigger. She yearns for love and believes...more
Chrissie
OK, yesterday I finished the book....... and I am having a very hard time choosing the stars and knowing what to say! Yes it is a very, very good book, BUT STILL it only received 4 rather then 5 stars. The positive first! The book is speckled with marvelous lines that get you thinking. For example - "by getting closer to a smaller world, she had found a larger world." Think about that and how true it is! Trudi, the main character's father has died. She says, "What she missed most was the certain...more
Tania
It was like that with stories: she could see beneath their surface, know the undercurrents, the whirlpools that could take you down, the hidden clusters of rocks. Stories could blind you, rise around you in a myriad of colors. Every time Trudi took a story and let it stream through her mind from beginning to end, it grew fuller, richer, feeding on her visions of those people the story belonged to until it lefts its bed like the river she loved. And it was then that she'd have to tell the story t
...more
Red Haircrow
Intro

Although I often read history, especially books regarding World War II and Germany, memoirs, collected memories, analysis into the various horrors and sheer arrogant stupidity of what the Nazis and others did, I seldom, if ever, read fiction books about those times.

This book, however, caught my eye because the central character was a Zwerg, or dwarf, one of the many groups considered “unfit to live” which were summarily done away with under the Nazi regime. Secondly, this character, Trudi M...more
misha
I loved this book from the beginning. The anger and passion of Trudi captivated me from beginning to end, and I had a hard time putting this book down.

I found that I had to concentrate harder on this book due to the number of characters, and with all of the german names. This made it much harder to rush through the book, which ultimately should be cherished anyway.

I loved Trudi's strengths as a story teller, and her understanding of her surroundings that bordered on magical realism.

Will read...more
Noce
Sul come la recensionista sbarazzina si lasci andare a rivelazioni autobiografiche che vanno ben oltre i suoi dati anagrafici

Quando andai a Trieste per l'Università, non so se per la legge degli opposti, o per la tendenza bislacca della vita a scherzare coi pardossi, mi ritrovai a frequentare assiduamente due bellezze indigene.
La Betta e La Claudia erano due valchirie alte 1,80 ciascuna, bionde, fascinose, giunoniche e con proporzioni da manuale.
Il primo anno eravamo inseparabili. Ma ovviamente...more
Mara
Some books disappoint on a second reading, but not this one. When it came time for my book club to read this book I was very excited, because I remembered that I really liked it the first time I read it. And I was not disappointed. I think I liked this book at least as much the second time around as the first.

This is a story with two contrasting themes. One is difference. Told mostly from the perspective of Trudi, a dwarf, who feels how different she is from the members of her community on a dai...more
Tifnie
Aug 12, 2008 Tifnie rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Tifnie by: Sue LaCabe
Shelves: fiction
This is a book that I would not have picked out for myself to read if it weren't for my mother in-law.

The story, set in German in the early 1900's, is about a courageous blond, blue eyed girl named Trudi Montag who just happens to be a dwarf. Over the course of 4 decades, Trudi, tells you the story of her town, her friends, her physical limitations, her jealousy, and most importantly the Hitler reign that sweeps through her town exterminating all Jews and anyone who tries to help them.

I enjoye...more
Lcbogota
Trudi Montag, a manipulative, resentful, nosy dwarf uses the secrets she gathers to extract her revenge on the townspeople who consider themselves superior and shun her, during the period from the First to Second World Wars in Burgdorf, Germany. As far as synopses go, that would be pretty accurate but it wouldn't make you want to read the book. The main character may be less than sympathetic, but she is sharp and observant, and paints finely tuned, sensitive, and insightful pictures of her fello...more
Stephanie
First of all, I could have done without all the sexual moments. I know this is part of life, which is what this book is about, but much of it wasn't necessary. It ruined the book for me. I read this book with a lot of apprehension - not trusting it and expecting something horrible at any moment.

That being said, this book captures human emotions of all kinds, but focuses on being different. One of the morals I took from this story is how we let our differences become barriers. Like Trudi we often...more
Deborah Escobar
This book brought home what it was like to live in World War II era Germany and gave me new understanding of the Nazi takeover and what it meant for German residents. It was also somewhat spooky in that regard, that some people were so wholeheartedly caught up in the militaristic regime, and that it was not safe for others to speak out. It made me think of that line from poetry, what we at first abhor we first come to tolerate, and then embrace. Excellent book.
Elizabeth
There aren't enough stars in the universe with which to rate this book. As five stars is all I can give "Stones from the River" I do so knowing that no amount of stars nor any review no matter how sexy or lyrical or witty or heart "wrenching-ly" beautiful could ever do the book or Ursula Hegi justice.

I wish that "Stones from the River" had an infinite number of pages so that I could read it for the rest of my life.

Johnna Adams
I am lucky that I was trapped on a train for six hours going to Hartford and back, or I think I would have had a hard time getting into this one. Ultimately, it was a lovely and rewarding book-- but the first couple of hundred pages are all setup and a bit difficult to sludge through.

The book is about Trudi Montag, a young dwarf in rural Germany born to a WWI soldier and a crazy woman who grows up to defy the Nazis during WWII in her small town. The WWII portion of the book is fascinating and gr...more
Fergie
I've read all of Ursula Hegi’s books and have yet to be disappointed. I found this to be her finest work. In fact, Stones From The River stands among my favorite novels. A high school friend turned me onto this book years ago and I am forever glad she did. It's still one of my favorite novels on my shelves. Stones From The River is the first in the Burgdorf series of novels set in Germany around the time of WWII. With the creation of Trudi Montag, Hegi set the stage for some of the finest, most...more
Max
This is a powerful novel. I had not read anything previously by the author, nor had I ever heard of her. That being said, I took great pains to read through this slowly because some passages deserved reading twice, some three times.

Trudi Montag is a Zwerg--a dwarf, born to normal-sized parents. Her mother is wholly distant; I get the feeling she is bipolar. She eventually flees from Trudi and her father. She has a friend, Georg, whose mother had never forgiven him for not being born a girl, so...more
Elizabeth Hinkson
THis is a book about world war II and about being different. It is frighteningly honest. It is just brilliant and unlike anything else I have read. It is about a little person!
Leah
great book...interesting main charater
Mimi
This tale follows the life of Trudi Montag, a Zwerg (dwarf) who we know spent at least the first 33 years of her life in pre- and post- WWII Germany. The changes in her town resulting from the horrors inflicted by war and time are all viewed through Trudi's eyes and the stories seem to be told from the perspective of a young woman whose differences set her apart from the other townsfolk from the moment of her birth.

As we are reminded of the atrocities committed in Nazi Germany to Jews and anyone...more
CynthiaA
I LOVED this book. The imagery and metaphors are excuisite. The character of Trudi is so wonderfully complex and human (damaged yet lovable -- even admirable at times). The other characters are beautifully crafted and incredibly believable.The setting -- of Germany post WWI and during/post WWII -- incredibly done. It gave the reader a real comprehension of how the political situation took root and became what it ultmately was.

The story was both compassionate and yet judgemental. Honest but not...more
Chana
This is a very dense book, with many characters and spanning many years. I had a hard time reading it because it is set in Germany between 1915 and 1952. There is a strong emotional impact, enough that I had to put the book down at one point and read something light-hearted before I could come back to it.
The story starts in 1915 when Trudi, a dwarf, is born to Mr. and Mrs. Montag. Mrs. Montag is mentally unbalanced but her husband is very patient and loving, both with his wife who dies when Trud...more
Jinger Hayes
I read this book years ago and so can't provide a fresh and well detailed review. However, what I do remember is coming away with a keener perspective of what it was like to be a German (non jewish, not necessarily Nazi by choice) citizen under Nazi rule - something I really hadn't thought much about. We have of course read so many accounts of the horrors as related to the beleaguered Jews. This book, however, opened my eyes to how harrowing it must have been to be a German citizen trying to tip...more
Dehlia
When I was 19 I remember "auntie birdbrain" (the mother of my best friend) recommending a long list of great books to read that summer in between college years. I can still see the swoopy handwriting and the star after Ursula Hegi's Stones from the River. I have no idea why it took me over a decade to actually read the book. I finished it in three days and loved every single page, all the gruesome details, the love and misery. I cried at many points. This is a masterpiece, as demonstrated by its...more
Keith
This remarkable, bitter-sweet epic about the lives of people in a small town on the Rhein River is enthralling. The story is told by Trudi Montag who was born and spent her entire life in the village. Named after her mother Gertrud, not only is her name a diminutive but Trudi herself is diminutive as she was born a Zwerg, the German word for dwarf. This hated term and her undesirable difference provide her with a unique perspective on the lives of everyone around her. Feeling responsible for her...more
Liz
Impressively captivating full of interesting, surprising details. Nice, clear writing.

You really feel Trudi growing up and evolving. The depiction of her own struggle with dwarfism is realistic and heart-wrenching.

All the characters are extremely multi-dimensional and well-written. There is a large over-arching plot, but the rich details are what make it really special.

Not your typical holocaust book, that's for sure.
Rebecca
This book is amazing. It gives you a new perspective on what hardships are and how we live our lives. I found it to be a tough read but in a good way. It really made me think and feel.
Anita Magno
I would have to say this is one of my top ten best reads......great book
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Theme- outsider 3 62 Aug 24, 2012 09:24AM  
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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...
Floating in My Mother's Palm The Vision of Emma Blau Children and Fire Salt Dancers Sacred Time

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“Now the purpose of her stories had changed. She spun them to discover their meaning. In the telling, she found, you reached a point where you could not go back, where—as the stories changed—it transformed you, too.” 5 likes
“About endings....unless we do them well, we have to keep repeating them.” 3 likes
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