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The Watchmaker's Daughter: A Memoir

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  452 ratings  ·  80 reviews
The Watchmaker's Daughter tells the story of a child of two refugees: a watchmaker who saved lives within Dachau prison, and his wife, a gifted concert pianist about to make her debut when the Nazis seized power. In this memoir, Sonia Taitz is born into a world in which the Holocaust is discussed constantly by her insular concentration camp-surviving parents. This legacy, ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published October 23rd 2012 by McWitty Press (first published September 1st 2012)
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May 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a lovely tribute to the author's parents, reminded very much of my own childhood and of course the passing of my own parents. Definitely recommend, but be prepared for some tears.
Nov 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
So beautiful that I cried through most of it and, thankfully, laughed through the rest.
Talia Carner
Feb 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful, insightful writing of a second-generation Holocaust survivor

In lyrical, strong and evocative prose, Sonia Taitz describes life in a household of two people that had crawled out of the ashes of the Holocaust to build a new life in New York. But a new life could not escape the dark shadows of the hunger, degradation and losses that never lifted from the home and cast a pall over every moment, every action and reaction.

In this detailed memoir, Ms. Taitz draws great pictures of each of he
Jan 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: jewish-lit
There are numerous Holocaust accounts and memoirs. Much rarer are stories of the children of these survivors. The Watchmaker's Daughter is such an account. Sonia Taitz, the author, describes growing up on NYC. Her parents are both Holocaust survivors who have lost close family during the War. The parents work hard to provide for their family, but, as a result of their experiences, do not always create a happy, warm home. And the author, as she matures, feels responsible for her parents, almost a ...more
Feb 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This was an interesting memoir about a child with parents who survived the Holocaust. It's fascinating how the daughter (and son) have lived lives of relative ease in comparison to their parents. Reading how the daughter compares herself to her Jewish friends who parents were not in the Holocaust was truly eye opening. How her friends could peel an apple and throw away the skin and no one reminded them that that apple skin could have saved a person's life in the camps. I can't imagine being rais ...more
Nov 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
A love letter from an American daughter to her immigrant parents who are haunted by their past. Sonia Taitz writes movingly but without an ounce of self-pity. At times, I found myself laughing and crying at the same time. Like Angela's Ashes, this is a book deserves to live on.
Jan 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
Well written and interesting. Now I'll have to go back and re-read In the King's Arms
Emily Little
Jun 05, 2017 rated it liked it
I discovered this book at BookMania in Stuart FL. It is the story of a daughter of holocaust-surviving parents and their affect on her outlook on life. It really gave you an insight that it was not just the inmates of concentration camps that were injured but also the kids of holocaust survivors. Their children suffer from a sort of bleak survivor-guilt.
Edward B Cohen
Sep 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Lovely and Warm like a delicious matzo ball soup

Loved this simple sweet story
Although my parents were not holocaust survivors, I see a lot of my own upbringing and character in this memoir.
Rachel Berger
Jul 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Relatable memoir for 2nd generation and even 3rd generation survivor's children and grandchildren.
Janette Farrelly
Aug 15, 2017 rated it it was ok
I enjoyed it but not as much as other similar books such as the northern lights
Lorrie Shaw
Jun 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
We are a product of our family history....and significant historical events like the holocaust, the depression, presidential assassinations....Sonia brings this to life in this great memoir...
Sep 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Smart woman learns to appreciate her domestic mother.
Family interactions in setting of holocaust survivors.
Jan 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
The children of Holocaust survivors have to bear the weight of their parents' horrible sufferings and loses for which, understandably, they can never be consoled. The Watchmaker's Daughter is Sonia Taitz's memoir of desperately trying to escape that burden and very, very slowly coming to understand her parents' behavior and struggles in the United States.

The watchmaker is the author's Lithuanian father Simon whose skill at his craft allowed him to survive the Nazi concentration camps, though he
Paula Ludwigson
Jan 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a memoir of Sonia who is the daughter of two survivors of Nazi concentration camps. Her father is a watchmaker and repairer. As he says, the Germans value punctuality and with it clocks and watches. Her mother survives with her own mother and even risks her own life to save her mother's life. She and her family live in NYC in Washington Heights. Her father has rages in which he beats (what is called punishing) both her and her brother. He is, however, a loving father, intellectual, pushi ...more
Nov 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is an amazing book that is well worth reading! It held my interest to the last page and did not disappoint. I can well imagine that this story echoes many other immigrant experiences post-WWII.

Sonia Taitz is the daughter of Holocaust survivors. Her parents were Lithuanian Jews who were among the few to escape the German concentration camps. As immigrants to America, they lived in New York City where her father was a master watchmaker and her mother was his helper. Sonia grews up in the 60’
Oct 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
I first read an article about this book in the newspaper. A few days later I saw/met the author at Women Read/Women Write. This book is a well-written account of the author's parents, Holocaust survivors. Simon and Gita Taitz are flawed individuals who the author, and I, the reader, came to admire by the end of the story. This is a story of family, love, conflict and how all that makes "a life." It is Sonia Taitz's love letter to her parents. The deaths of each parent are especially poignant and ...more
Nov 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
I do love me a memoir, a glimpse into someone elses story, a growing up story so different to my own. In this one, we meet Sonia, who grows up in New York, the daughter of two Holocaust survivors. Her father survived the camps by his skill as a watchmaker, protecting many others, and her mother and grandmother were able to survive the ghetto and camps together.

Growing up, you could read that Sonia was somewhat conflicted, wanting the American dream family, embarrassed by the small apartment with
Joanne  Clarke Gunter
Nov 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is a good memoir and is very well written. I always enjoy those memoirs telling the story of children whose comfortable lives growing up here in America are juxtaposed with the very different and very uncomfortable lives of their parents before them. Both of Sonia Taitz's Jewish parents survived Nazi concentration camps. Both carry the burden of remembrance of people and places and events that no one should have to remember, and both never let the author and her brother forget the horror of ...more
Dec 10, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: red-tent, memoir
It never ceases to amaze me the small miracles that occurred during the Holocaust; how people used their wits to survive. And while this is ultimately a tribute to her Holocaust survivor parents, Taitz' writing shows her ambivalence towards them. Her love/hate relationship doesn't quite reflect her remarkable normalcy despite being raised with abuse and guilt.

The bare bones are here for a great memoir, but unfortunately I wasn't drawn into the story. The jumps in time prevented a flow, and the i
Angela Blood
I gave this book 3 stars because there's wasn't a 2.5 option.... It took me a while to "get into" the book. It's not what I thought it would be. A lot of the book just seemed like the author whining although, despite having Holocaust survivors for parents, she's a spoiled little brat. "Boohoo, I have black hair, but I get to travel around Europe and spend time in Jerusalem... Boohoo, my parents are strict and actually give a damn about me.... Wah! I can't wear makeup in front of my father and my ...more
Jan 26, 2015 rated it liked it
This was a memoir of growing up as a child of Holocaust survivors. It was more uplifting than you'd think it would be. The author gave us glimpses of the darkness that she grew up in, but you get a sense that she shields the reader from most of it--to the point that, except for being poorer, you don't get a sense the author's childhood was that much different from others at the time. There are glimpses, however, of a childhood that was tougher, sadder, more serious, than even the author has chos ...more
Jan 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Friends and family
Recommended to Gail by: Book review site
There have been many books written about the Holocaust (I have certainly read the gamut) but not any, perhaps, about being the daughter of Holocaust survivors. Sonia Taitz's father, Simon, was a watchmaker and this is what saved his life and others at Dachau. Her mother, Gita, could have been a concert-pianist had not the Nazis arrived. Luckily, she was able to save both herself and her mother at the concentration camp (Stutthof). Sonia grows up within her parents' insularity but at the same tim ...more
Oct 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book is a beautiful, moving, even transcendent exploration of the search for meaning and for one's place in the world. While of course the particular story of one woman, one family, it, like all great literature, touches universal themes of human experience and the search for self and the world. It is also an historical document, measuring and demonstrating the reverberations of one of the seminal tragedies of the 20th century, the Holocaust. And it is a daughter's love letter to her parent ...more
Yona McDonough
Sep 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Sonia Taitz is a new author for me and I adore her! This slim volume that recounts the lives of her Holocaust-survivor parents is filled with so much depth and so much emotion. Taitz's father, a watchmaker by trade, was kept alive by the punctuality loving Nazis; he in turn showed other inmates how to "fix" the watches (the work was done by him in secret) so that they too would be spared. Her relationship with these tender, scarred souls forms the spine of the story, and she sees herself through ...more
May 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013-books-read
A different take on the post-war lives of Holocaust survivors from the viewpoint of their daughter. Sonia shares what it was like to grow up as a child in post-war America with two Holocaust survivors for parents. She faces the challenges of an unconventional childhood with humor and spirit, which also follows her through some trying times in her adult years. The book takes the reader all the way through until the end, and it is truly hard to read these memories because you form an attachment to ...more
Dec 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The tale of the holocaust and its survivors is always compelling. Here the parents are drawn as both damaged and as strong and evolving people. Their children are raised unevenly yet with love. The parents are equally complicated in their relationship with one another and the world around them. All of this complication of relationship makes for vastly interesting and evocative reading. We can understand the rebellion of the children; and we can understand their loyalty and love. The consequence ...more
Apr 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book is beautifully written and very interesting. It not only chronicles the special aspects of growing up the daughter of two Holocaust survivors in the fifties and sixties, there are many aspects about growing up at that time that others will share and remember. The most unusual thing was the difference I noted from children I knew whose parents were Holocaust survivors. Although they, too, seemed to have to embody their parents' dreams and burdens, their parents did not talk so openly (o ...more
Oct 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads
I have received this book as a lucky first-read giveaway winner. Many books about Holocaust survivors have been written, but I truely enjoyed reading this one. Sonia is sharing her point of view, growing up in a household with Holocaust survivors. Each member of the family plays an important role in the part of keeping history alive, but yet moving on. It clearly shows that each family has to build it's own support system in order to overcome difficulties and to support each other no matter what ...more
Oct 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: carrie
Shelves: non-fiction
What a heartfelt memoir. Amazing how we seem to take the little things for granted from our parents when we are kids.

This woman growing up with parent survivor's of the holocaust always wanted something more than what she had. Her parents kept tradition and made sure that their kids would always remember their heritage and history. The daughter wanted what everyone else had with the times in New York, such as toys, better clothing, and the dream house with the dog.

This book takes you on a jour
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Sonia Taitz is a playwright, essayist, and author of THE WATCHMAKER’S DAUGHTER, a memoir described by PEOPLE magazine as “funny and heartwrenching.”

The book has been recommended by VANITY FAIR, KIRKUS, The American Library Association (which nominated it for the Sophie Brody Medal), and READER’S DIGEST, which put it on its “Can’t-Miss” List. Author/critic James Wolcott described the book as havin