No, I cannot stand this. I'm dumping it. I am not going to force myself to wade through writing that does not appeal to me. I believe this book is morNo, I cannot stand this. I'm dumping it. I am not going to force myself to wade through writing that does not appeal to me. I believe this book is more for those who enjoy fiction of the romance genre. ...more
This book appeals to me right now b/c: 1. It teaches about Indionesian history. 2. It is a memoir, so you experience what living through history is like. 3. There are magical Hindu myths intertwined with the hard facts. 4. Bali is conjured befor your eyes.
I like the spunk of this woman, who was drawn to Bali. She lived there NOT as a tourist, but as one of the indigenous people. She came to love the land as her own. To love it and to fight for it to achieve Indonesian independence. And to suffer for it - she ends up in a Japanese prisoner of war camp during WW2. However, I have just begun. She was born and spent her early childhopod on the Isle of Man. When her Scottish step-grandfather died, her mother moved them to Hollywood in the US. Now she has her heart set on Bali, and that is where she will go. Magic and fate and being dealt a given hand of cards are part of her upbringing as a Manx child. So off to Bali it is. It is written in the stars. What will she do with the hand of cards dealt her? I have only read 18 pages and all of this already been served!
And now I have finished the book. When I began reading this I realized that I have previously read another book about Indonesia, set in the time immediately following WW2, about the chaos the country was in. About the Indonesian fight for independence and the role Japan, Britain and the Dutch played in the years following WW2 up tp 1949 when Indonesia became independent. The other book I had read was The Admiral's Baby by Laurens van der Post. When I added this book to my shelves, I wrote a short review. I read the book quite a few years ago. One of my friends brought to my attention that after van der Post's death a biography was written that claimed he was a complete liar. This caused a huge ruckus in the media. Please see the comments under my review of The Admiral's Baby, rather than my repeating everything here. There you will find links to the discussions concerning the moral depravity of van der Post. I was quite shocked when I heard of this. I had assumed that all I had read in the Admiral's Baby was correct. It really felt truthful. I guess I had been duped. The upshot of this was that I had no intention of being duped again, and the book I was rcurrently eading, Revolt in Paradise, did have me a bit worried. Some facts seemed rather too stupendous. The author had met so many, done so much, had herself played such a leading role in the Indonesian fight for independence. So I looked on the net. What do I discover, but that another book has been written disclaiming the veracity of Revolt in Paradise. This book is entitled The Romance of K'tut Tantri and Indonesia. This book, which I have not read, is said to go beyond criticizing K'Tut Tantri and turns the book toward a discussion of how you judge the truth of an autobiographer. What is "the truth"? In an autobiography you are given how the author sees his/her life and the events held therein. Maybe truth isn't black or white, but gray! Of course some truths are verifiable, and these better be correct. Other events may however be open to interpretation. This is where veracity can be debatd.
Anyhow, tthis discussion of dishonest authors influenced how I judge Revolt in Paradise. My gut feeling is that the hisorical facts are correct but Tantri's role in the events is exagerated. It is completely verifiable that she was Surabaya Sue, that she played an important role in broadcasting the news representing the views of the Indonesians freedom fighters against Dutch colonialism. This book is chockful with clear facts of the events in the fight for independence. BUT, even here I have some quibbles. Too few dates were given. Treaties were named and battles sited, and I wanted to know on what date this or that occurred. The timeline of the events was not completely linear, so one couldn't be quite sure. And then there is a map, but it was TERRIBLE. Impossible to read and lacking some of the cities discussed in the book. Neither was there an index or any notes.
What made ma most worried about the veracity of her role in the events was the way the story was written. I swear it felt like a movie script. It was VERY exciting. And the things she thought up and did and organized, well, I am sorry, I find it all a bit hard to believe. It is her role in history that I think is exagerated. There is one episode where she says everything had to be kept secret, and even up to the writing of the book it was kept secret! So how do we know it is true?!
In the final analysis I have chosen to give this book 3 stars. There is much to be learned about the Indonesian fight for independence and the culture and traditions of Java and Bali. The author's work is written as an exciting political novel. You do not want to put it down. It is an exciting read. By the end I was reading bits out loud to my husband and laughing. It was that enjoyable, but you have to read it with a discerning eye. You have to think - OK, this is how SHE sees her role in the events. The event did happen, and perhas she was involved, but not to the extent that she claims! It is also important to remember that there were many who hated her, particularly among the Dutch! Of course the Dutch and even the British would wish to denounce and blacken her name, so who can you trust to give the correct story? I cannot know with certainty what exactly is right and what is not. I was often looking at Wikipedia for clues.
So read the book to learn about Indonesian independence and about the traditons and cultures of Java and Bali. Have a fun time gripping your seat while you read of her escapades and adventures. She sees herself as an Indonesian. She stes clearly that Indonesians love play acting, and they love an adventure. When she said this, I kind of felt she gave herself away. It is not wrong to read this book! I enjoyed reading it, and I've learned a lot!
ETA: My GR friend Petra gave me two links that review this book. I laughed b/c they have the same view as I do - read the book. It is fun and very informative, but don't believe every ounce of it. I must first warn that these reviews give serious "spoilers". If you are interested, here they are:
This book is written by a highly acclaimed and successful Polish writer, Olga Tokarczuk. She is definietely a talented author. She has a wonderful wayThis book is written by a highly acclaimed and successful Polish writer, Olga Tokarczuk. She is definietely a talented author. She has a wonderful way with words. The writing clearly has a philosophical undertone. But I cannot give it more than three stars. Despite the author wonderful ability, I find the tone so sad. Yes, there is humor, but it is humor directed at you and me, at all human beings as a species. We are a pitiful group. I don't disagree, but where does this hopelessness and despondency lead us? The book doesn't deal with such questions. I am giving this three stars because the author cleverly used words to depict us a species, but I did not really like the book even though it is well written! It made me so sad. Please don't stop now and think to forget this book - I will also give you an utterly beautiful quote. Just be patient, please.
The novel takes place in an imagined town near Wroclaw, Poland. Before WW2 this part of Poland was German. After the conclusion of WW2 the Polish borders were moved to the west. This area, Silesia, south western Poland,had been part of Germany. The war and the deportation of the Germans from this area do play a role in the novel, but it is predominantly about individuals search for fulfillment, our longings and our need to find some sense in the crazy world we live in. Since there is no sense, the mood is despondent, although we can sometimes laugh at ourselves. There are also themes concerning religion and dreams. The religious thread just simply meant nothing to me. It left me totally bored, even disturbed. It went too far.
The writing was sometimes BAD (the religious thread), most often SAD and it only occasionally left me feeling GLAD. Here follow some quotes. I will begin with a few lines that I felt were quite BAD. (If you read this book you get the good with the bad so just quoting the good seems incorrect. I am saving the best for the end!) These lines concern a dream. Yes, the world is absurd but:
I am looking at myself from behind. I can see the layer of loose fat that covers my back. There are sparse, single balack hairs growing on it. The skin is warm to the touch, a bit rough. I am amazed, because it is the birst time I have seen my own back view. But the unnatural skin doesn't put me off - I go on staring in wonder. With even greater surprise I notice a navel there. I didn't know my back had a navel too. This navel is like the reverse of the front one: the front navel points inwards, whereas this one sticks out. (page 188)
The following is about a couple that were married, but did they truly love each other anymore? This is a SAD quote:
To the outside world they looked like normal people, with lives like anyone else, but then maybe that's how everyone lives. The years change everything, except for that sense of longing. People's hair falls out, papers go yellow, new houses are built on the edge of town, regimes change, the rich become poor and the poor rich, lonely old ladies next door die, and children's shooes become too small
They were such very different people now that they might as well have changed their names - they could have filled in a form saying: 'We're no longer the people we use to be, so we're appluing to change our personal details, or something of the kind. What's the point of population censuses if people keep changing and turn into someone else? Why does an adult bear the same first name as when he was a child? Why does a once loved woman still have her husband's surname when he's betrayed and abandoned her? Why do men go on bearing the same name when they come back from war, or why does a boy beaten by his father keep the same idiotic name when he starts to bear his own children?
From the outside it looked as if nothing had changed, either between them or beyond them........
They never said much to each other about anything except the shopping and to exchange Christmas greetings. They came home late from work, then he went to play bridge while she went to church; they did occasionally still huddle up to each other at night, not out of affection, but for warmth, because the house was old and hard to heat. (page 274-275)
Look there is some truth in these words, but it leaves me very sad. It makes me shiver. I simply must show you that this author can also make you GLAD. I just wish she would do it more often in this book. The narrator is friends with an elderly woman called Marta. Everytime Marta enters the script I get ready for something good to happen or to hear a word of wisdom:
"Marta is old. The skin on her hands is thin and smooth, and covered in brown spots. Her nails are white and look lifeless, as if she had never worked. Beneath her skin I could feel fragile little bones that were swollen around the joints. It was rheumatism that was causing her pain, like a frost in the body. Maybe that's why Marta always feels cold, even during the heatwave. She wore the same long-sleeved cardigan all summer, with a grey dress under it. The collar of the dress was completely worn out, fraying at the neck. ....
Later we drank some tea, which tasted of everything around us. Marta took a look at my hair and asked, 'How do you manage to cut it so evenly? Look at mine.' (page 189)
And then they start cutting each others hair....
When I had finished her head was covered in a soft, silvery velour. We both rubbed our hands over it. Marta suddenly burst out laughing, so for fun I put the clippers in her hand and presented my own head. At first she sheared it rather awkwardly, then more and more boldly. My dark hair fell beside her light curls. When I tried to throw away the tufts we swept up from the terrace afterwards, Marta took them, rolled them into a dark-and-light ball and went to bury it in the flowering borders. We sat down on the steps and stroaked each other's sheared heads again. (page 189-190)
For me, this is beautiful. This author can use words to draw beautiful pictures of humans and how they relate to each other.
I had a hard time choosing between three or four stars. If there had been more happiness in the text I would have given it four stars.
I highly recommend this book to all those wishing to know more about the Darfur Conflict / Darfur Genocide that began in 2003. The Sudan Liberation MoI highly recommend this book to all those wishing to know more about the Darfur Conflict / Darfur Genocide that began in 2003. The Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) accuse the Sudanese government of oppressing non-Arab Sudanese, i.e. the black Africans of Sudan. When Britain left Sudan they left it in the hands of the Arabs. The guerrilla conflict is between the blacks and the Arabs of Sudan. The Arabs had been a nomadic people, the blacks were farmers. With the support of the Sudanese government, the Janjaweed, a Sudanese militia group recruited primarily from the Arabized indigenous Africans, have murdered, raped and burned black African villages throughout Darfur. This book is about one woman, a Black Muslim who grew up in a village of Darfur. She has lived through this genocide. The book was published in 2008. The conflict remained unresolved art this time. The number killed, by disease, starvation and direct violence, is disputed, but most likely it significantly exceeds 450,000.
You learn both about the genocide and the traditions and customs of the black villagers, the people of the Zaghawa tribe. Halima Bashir, the author, was educated in Sudan and became a doctor. Her own dreadful female circumcision influenced her wish to specialize in obstetrics and gynecology. This book, describing her experiences and her life story, is hard to put down. ...more
ETA: I decided to change this to four stars since I enjoyed the author's Einstein even more, and I gave that four.
Why do YOU waETA: I decided to change this to four stars since I enjoyed the author's Einstein even more, and I gave that four.
Why do YOU want to pick up a book about Benjamin Franklin? If you want his biographical details you need not even read a book, just check out Wikipedia. I wanted more. I wanted to understand his soul. I wanted to get under his skin. I wanted all the historical details in Wikipedia and more. I got what I wanted. Benjamin was an amazing person; people have only a superficial idea of who he really was. He is the guy who invented the lighting pole, that jolly fat man with a twinkle in his eye. He is the only person to have signed (and extensively worked on) the Declaration of Independence, the Peace Accord with England and the Treaty with France following the Revolution and the American Constitution. So this is a man of politics, you surmise. Yes, he was, but he was so much more. It is the breadth of all that he did that is so amazing. This is a man who changed history in not one way or two ways or merely ten ways. The world would not be the same today without this man. He has shaped the American character, given us wide ranging inventions and, yes, signed all those documents.
This is not a review of who Benjamin is, for that read this book. It is thorough. It is interesting. It is funny, and this is because Benjamin has made some outrageously amusing comments. He was a fantastic storyteller. We are not only told this but given numerous examples. The book follows a chronological path from birth to death and is concluded with a fantastic epilogue that synthesizes all the diverse threads. The book has everything you may want to know about this man, but not too much either! That is quite a feat.
I have one complaint, but it does not warrant the removal of the fifth star. My gut feeling is that the book is amazing. The author clearly admires Benjamin, and yet he does clearly point out his weak characteristics and mistakes. I quite simply wish he had more emphatically underlined the fact that although Benjamin extolled virtue and the merit of helping others, he failed so miserably in how he treated those of his family. He had all these rules of good conduct and yet he failed to be a good father and husband. The author doesn't hide is failings, but I wanted a stronger statement that revealed the disparity between what he preached and what he did! There I have said it. Benjamin was in fact a very cruel person in relation to his family, and sometimes he was very selfish and ungenerous. Why did he abandon his family and remain in Europe for fifteen years? In my mind, it was only when he finally realized he would be given neither the Ohio land grant nor the coveted office in charge of the colonies, that he returned. His reasons for remaining in Europe had been very selfish. I wanted that to be said clearly.
The narration of the audiobook by Nelson Runger was good but not excellent. He spoke clearly and slowly. I like slow narrations, but I was slightly irritated by his need to audibly swallow the saliva in his mouth. Neither do I think his female intonations were appealing. I am being very picky. These criticisms should not deter you from listening to the audiobook!
An excellent book about Benjamin Franklin. You will be surprised at learning this is a man who has much more depth and importance than you ever imagined.
Through chapter four
Having listened now through chapter four, I am beginning to see both Benjamin's good and bad personality traits. This only makes the book MORE accurate. Parts tend to be a bit preachy. Lists of the adages printed in his Poor Richard Almanacs drone on a bit too long. These almanacs were profitable, definitely a financial success. The moralizing about how to achieve virtue is a bit boring. Benjamin has even devised a "Moral Perfection Project"! He seems sometimes a bit inflated. OK, he also admits to his tendency of being too proud and adds the rule that one must try to remain humble. Anyhow, all this moralizing gets a bit hard to swallow. Enough!
The author also makes it very clear that Benjamin employs humor to achieve his goals, but his humor can become quite nasty. He adds gossip columns to his paper. Sex tidbits and crime always attract readers, so they are added too. Somehow all the moralizing about proper behavior is explained away when profits are to be made. Yes, Benjamin is a pragmatist. He usually can find a convenient explanation for why what he does is acceptable. He states that gossip leads to virtue since it puts an end to improper behavior! He does admit though it must be used with discretion.... I am not looking for a fairy tale about Benjamin but the real truth, so I am not complaining.
Only through chapter two:
Finally a book that really draws my attention and makes me happy to be reading!!
I am quite sure that this book will please. The information is clear and the author mentions details that are interesting. I am reading this book because I want to know who Benjamin Franklin was. By that I mean what kind of personality did he have, how would he instinctively react in a given situation and what are his weakness and charms. I want to know him as a blood and flesh friend; friend because I am already enchanted by his directness, dislike of elitism, humor, industriousness and ability to "bend rules".
Books were important to Benjamin. He was a youth of the Enlightenment, which appeals to me too. He lived from 1706-1790. He enjoyed Daniel Defoe's writing and shared his principles. Here is an amusing detail: Defoe thought there should be established institutions for the mentally retarded. The amusing part is that he felt a tax should be levied on authors to pay for these residences. Why? Because clearly authors had been blessed with more brain matter than the retarded. They should thus care for those more poorly endowed!
Benjamin was a vegetarian, at least for a while. He was not a vegetarian for moral reasons. By saving his money, eating less expensively, he could buy more books. Again, books are important! But then, on a boat trip, the cod sizzling on the grill smell "mmmm" so good! When filleting the fish, smaller fish had been found in the gut of the larger one, the one being cooked. He then conveniently reasoned: "If you eat one another, I don't see why we cannot eat you!" That ended his vegetarianism. Also he was on his way to a better paying job.
Clearly it helps that I like Benjamin's ability to poke fun at both himself and what he saw around him. I enjoy his tendency to rationalize, albeit in a manner that is "convenient". He knew quite well he was simply finding a convincing reason for doing exactly what he wanted.
I like this book because almost every paragraph throws in extraneous information that interests me. I didn't know that Puritanism was an effort to cleanse remnant Catholic practices from Protestantism. Puritans wanted to "purify" Protestantism. Reading this book, I am given much more than mere facts about Benjamin Franklin's life.
I am listening to the audiobook narrated by Nelson Runger. He speaks clearly and very slowly. This allows one time to take small introspective excursions as you listen, and this I like to do. If you do not like glacial narrations, perhaps you should read the paper form of the book. Listening to a book often takes longer than reading the book....more
The green sweater mentioned in the title of this book is found in the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. This sweater was worThe green sweater mentioned in the title of this book is found in the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. This sweater was worn by the author when she was six to seven years old, when she lived in the sewers of Lvov. Lvov is now called Lviv and is located in western Ukraine. Then, during the war, it was part of Poland and was called Lvov. This sweater was knitted by the author's grandmother. When she wore it she felt the warmth of her grandmother's hugs.
What is spoken of in this book is how she, the author, experienced the war. It is based on her own memories. The author has spoken with her parents and filled in sections that she did not know at the time, but it is important to see this book as a child's perspective on war. This, the book accomplishes very well. Similarly, any adult can list what elements will most probably be included in any description of an extended stay below ground in the sewer system – rats, excrement, slime, filth, worms and pipelines. The memories experienced by the author add a very horrible dimension to these concepts. Getting stuck in a 40cm pipeline, worms of all sizes and descriptions take on another dimension. The impact of childhood experiences on shaping an adult is also an interesting theme. The importance of humour is stressed. Yes, humour and good memories are possible even in such terrible conditions.
The author is remembering her experiences as a child, and yet this proves to be one of the problems with the book. We are told rather than shown. This is at least how I reacted to the book.
When you buy a book, you get a finished product. How a book is put together is important, Everything from the cover, maps, pictures, a glossary, an introduction and an afterword play a role in how the reader will perceive a given book.. This book has pictures which are wonderful. Unfortunately, it also has an introduction that is in fact a complete summary, in eight pages, of the entire book. Do not read the introduction before reading the book! I did, and as a result, I always knew what would happen next.
Yes, I liked the book, but it could clearly have been improved. I highly admire the author and agree completely with her belief that such experiences of the holocaust must be documented. ...more
This is an amazing book. It is definitely getting 5 strs. Who should read it? Those who are interested in life in the Soviet Union startNO SPOILERS!!!
This is an amazing book. It is definitely getting 5 strs. Who should read it? Those who are interested in life in the Soviet Union starting from the 1930s all the way up to 2002 and those interested in the persecution of Jews in Poland prior to and during WW2. You have to be interested in these two subjects. This book packs an emotional punch. It is about motherhood, friendship and survival. About humor and of course history. It is about how people are SO different. Sure we can search for reasons, but we are simply born different. This is not to say that one is good and the other bad. Both Rozalia and Ester were wonderful and yet very, very different from each other! You will learn so much about life in the Soviet Union through the lives of these two remarkable women and their families. The prose is engaging, funny and philosophical. This is exactly the kind of book I adore. I loved this so much I don't want to leave the "subject". Now I will start The Family Mashber. It IS fiction. Could it possibly be as good as this biography?
Through page 248: The grandmothers have met - finally! Now I know who is who on the cover of my book! :0) You come to love these two women.
Through page 244: This book isn't a light read. It is stuffed with facts both about life in Bialystok, Poland, and in Russia after the war. Also in Turkmenistan. It is about two grandmothers and how each survived Hitler's war and Stalin's peace, just as the title indicates. There is a Russian word spasat'sia, which means literally to save oneself, but to do it on a regular basis! That such a word exists in a particular language says something about the culture of the people using this language. This word, and the Russian word for hunger, vprogolod are central to what this book is about. The two grandmothers have still not met. The point is much more that although these two women were similar in many ways, they chose different ways of surviving. It is the analysis of WHY these two women made such different choices that is riveting. Let me say very clearly, neither one was the hero and the other the traitor. That is what you will learn. Well that is merely my feeling. Others may disagree. Being a censor in Stalin's Russia has both its ups and sowns. Very interesting reading!
Through page 202: This is ridiculous, I mark sentences that I feel I must quote, but there are so many. The writing makes me alternately laugh, cry or takes my breath away. What is said is so hoestly true, perceptive, heart wrenching. Between the emotional lines you get the historical facts and discussions on how different events have been debated. So no more quotes. I've given enough. No, two short lines more:
"This is the essence of living, the skill of grasping whatever joy comes your way......" (page 198)
"...now she knows, from her own life, how happiness comes in tiny bursts. Like a good book." (page 200)
No more! Read the book instead.
Through Page 152: I appreciate the author's analysis of what is behind the choices made by each of her grandmothers. A bit less than half-way through the book, I have mostly learned about Ester's choices. I admire her zest for life and her spunk. I admire her honesty and ability to clearly see the importance of the support she received from her mother. And:
"Maybe she is reluctant to judge, knowing precisely how difficult it was for her to stand her ground." (page 140)
"Hunger is accepting the humiliation of a biscuit from him. She concentrates on taking small indifferent bites." (page 128)
On the all pervading fear characteristic of these times:
"There was a misunderstanding between Ester and Major Gurov, and at the center of this misunderstanding was fear. The most important instrument of control in the soviet Union was fear." (page 129)
In the beginning of the book each chapter switched between the two grandmothers. This was a bit confusing. It is much easier to follow as you get further into the book, where the story focuses one one grandmother at a time. They still have not met! There is no map - which is bad. But drag out your atlases instead. There is so much to learn. I hadve never before read about how letters/envelopes were triangular in the Soviet Union at this time. Another thing that is bad is that the book lacks photographs!
Through page 119: It is made strikingly clear that what hppens to an individual is most often completely outside of their control. The good and the bad just fall down on you from above. In Moscow, Ester is studying and has found friends. With the Germans approaching from the west, for many Poles Russia was the only alternative available. Ester's roomate and friend Eda was very lucky when a pilot saw her photograph and fell in love with her. They never even met. And what happens? He decides he has no need for his large pay, there on the front, and sent it to Eda. What happens next? He is killed and another bank transfer, an astronomical sum of money was sent to Eda. From living with hunger, they now delight in wine and food, real foood. War and food or lack thereof are so closely knit. From page 108:
"Somewhere around that time she first heard the word vprogolod. It means 'a life of hunger' - not the crisis of famine, but the habitual year-to-year, day-to-day painful light-headedness and a sucking sensation in the esophagus. This was how they lived."
Before the lucky star fell from the sky.
What you notice is that people are just ordinary people, even in the worst of times. Here is this pilot falling in love with a girl he has never seen. The need to hold someone dear is so essential to life. Here are Eda and Ester buying food and wine, with comments such as (page 109):
"She has never been a wine drinker before, but she can become one now."
I also like how history is seamlessly woven into the tale (page 109):
"As it happened, just as she was sentenced, in August 1941 The Soviet Union signed a co-operation agreement with occupied Poland's government in exile and, in conjunctionwith that move, declared amnesty for all Polish citizens in labor camps, prisons and 'special settlements' on Soviet territory. Many of them, including the future Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin, left the Soviet Union in the ranks of an army formed by Polish general Wladislaw Anders. The rest, like Bella, remained in the Soviet Union through the war."
Time and time again, what happens to just you is pure luck..... Will you be one of the lucky few?
Through page 66: Life during the Great Terror 1937-1940 under Stalin is better understood when the reader see the effects on Ester's and Rozalia's lives and that of their families. The capriciousness of fate hits you. There is no rhyme or reason as to who gets caught and who slips free. However fear is a constant that all feel. (Page 52)
"No one came that night for Moshe, or for Rozalia, or for Boba or anyone else in the gang. But Moshe continued to wait, and so did Rozalia, just as thusands of people in the Soviet Union waited every night, unable to sleep, think or make love, always listening for the car engine in the courtyard, the steps on the stairs and the banging on the door."
I am wondering how it would feel to read this book, having lived through these times?!
There is no map, so be sure you have an atlas within reach. I would have also appreciated photos.
Through page 21: I enjoy learning about the author's family, the two central characters being her two grandmothers. Rozalia(Ruzya) is the mother of the author's father, Sasha. Ester is the mother of her Mom, Yalochka. Rozalia and Ester have been friends long before their children ever married. There is a long history preceding the familial tieing of the two families. In 1981, the author, Masha and her parents emigrated. She was 14 at the time. Now, 10 years later, Masha has returned as a jounalist and will meet again those of her tightly knit family. And both her grandmothers. Finally in 1994 she moved permanently back to Moscow. As an adult, going back to where she grew up was tumuluous, wrought with fear and delight. It was then her grandmothers told her the stories of their lives in fuller detail. It is these stories that constitute the book. I haven't read many pages, but I immediately have learned the importance of "family" in Russian life. Being family is both an obligation and a joy. You need the help of your family in a way that is perhaps hard for a Westerner to comprehend. I assume this will be shown to me in the following pages. Ester's family was from Bialystok, Poland. Rozalia's from Moscow. Between the wars, Bialystok was the city in Poland with the largest community of Jews. That is where the tale begins. This is not fiction. Ester's Hasidic Jewish parents were atheists, one working for the Zionist cause, the other for the integration of the Jews into Polish life, an activist in the Bund, the Jewish workers' party in Poland. It was Ester's father who was the Zionist and her mother the Bundist. As in real life, people who love eachother do not always think the same. Other interests tied them, their daughter Ester, of course! I like that these people reflect the possibility of loving and still not necessarily agreeing or doing things in the same way. Then fate also sticks its hand in the jumble and the result is life. I will not tell you what happens to them, and I do not know much of the total story yet. I enjoy learning about the Jewish traditions in Bialystok in the 1930s. Here too, in this city, a center of Jewish thought and life in Poland, discrimination was clearly evident.
Ester is a well-developed young teenager. the boys are definitely interested.... In the summer, mother and daughter, Bella and Ester, leave Bialystok for country life. Here is a tast of the prose (both from page 21):
"Bella and Ester have taken a room with a terrace in a large private home, since far to many of the pensions now announce, alongside their name, 'No dogs or Jews'."
Ester's father comes to visit them every weekend. He is driving toward their lodging. Remember, fathers will be fathers:
"Now Jakub waves to Ester and visibly picks up speed as he approaches the house. Now he bounds up the stairs. Now he traverses the terracein two leeping steps, grabs the young man by the collar and holds him suspended in mid-air like a small animal for a split second before stepping back toward the stairway and sending the charming conversationalist tumbling down."
Maude, you are probably way ahead of me already....... It is good, isn't it?!
Before starting: For clarity's sake, Ester and Ruzya and Two Babushkas are the same. I will be reading this book with Maude. :0) We both have high expectations. We will share our thoughts with eachother in the messages below this review. If we think that which we say is a spoiler, we will add a SPOILER WARNING to the message! I am hoping that Maude will also write a review, and that I can leave messages there too! Anybody intererested in joing in on the discussion is welcome!
The setting is Poland and Russia. The book is a biography of the author's two grandmothers who survived Hitler's war and Stalin's peace. ...more
Too long ; needs better editing. For example, the time spent on the raft is just too long and drawn out.
I have a very hard time believing some of theToo long ; needs better editing. For example, the time spent on the raft is just too long and drawn out.
I have a very hard time believing some of the events: (view spoiler)[the numerous Japanese bullets missed Allan Phillips and Max on the raft and fixing the bullet holes in the raft while they remained in it is implausible! (hide spoiler)] The sharks’ behavior seems unbelievable too…. The crews on the airplanes were given fleece clothing when they left for their first air assignment. Did there really exist fleece clothing back in the forties?! OK, the old woolen fleece garments is what is being referred to. I just cannot believe many statements made in this book! Louis’ behavior as a child seems very much “exaggerated”.
Neither does the religious message professed in this book work for me. That Louis falls under the spell of Billy Graham put me off.