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4.02  ·  Rating details ·  1,623 ratings  ·  129 reviews
Als 1871 nachts ein entfernter Verwandter an die Tür der Meijers klopft, ahnt noch keiner in der Familie, wie radikal sich ihr Leben ändern wird. Über vier Generationen erstreckt sich ihre Geschichte voller Liebesglück und Lebenstrauer, ihr Kampf um Erfolg und Anerkennung. Charles Lewinsky erzählt mit einer Gestaltungskraft, die den Leser unweigerlich zu einem bangenden, h ...more
Paperback, 784 pages
Published by DTV (first published 2006)
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Average rating 4.02  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,623 ratings  ·  129 reviews

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Jun 16, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Sue by: Else
One of the best books I've ever read... Novel about a Swiss Jewish family stretching from about 1870 to 1937... Written with a dry sense of humor... Real, alive characters... the tiniest touch of fantasy... If this book is ever available in English translation, I will recommend it highly to everybody!

October 2020: Re-reading. Enjoyed it even more (if that's possible) this second time of reading it. And by the way, apparently the novel is now available in English, in a paperback edition.
Ruth Harwood
Sep 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An amazing story of the fortunes of a family between 1870 and WWII, and what a story! By the time we get to the end of this wonderful saga of Jewish life, including a glimpse into a society where anti-antisemitism is the norm, something that startled me, as a 21st Century Briton with no prejudice against anyone, and wouldn't know a Jew from a Christian if I were placed in front of a line up: how can there be such institutionalized racism in society against people just because they have different ...more
♥ Marlene♥
A few years ago 2? I visited the bookstore here in my city aka village and this book was on display. Of course I was intrigued mainly because Meijer is my surname and I liked the first words I read but I had not bought a new Dutch book for so many years and it was quite expensive.

Guess my joy when I found it in the secondhand store today for just 1.50! It is a huge harback and in good shape. Excited! It is huge though.
One of the most touching and beautiful books I have read in a long time.

A very special family saga over 4 generations of a Swiss Jewish family from the year 1871 to 1945 in which world history is reflected through the fates of the family members and told in such a beautiful prose and with such deep and simple compassion.

I only hope (for English readers) that an English translation is as good as the original book.

Highly recommended.
Aug 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars
Jan-Joost Bouwman
Read this book on my recent trip to Chile, while sitting on endless bus journeys. Slightly weird to be reading such a European book there, but it sure helped while travelling.
I enjoyed the lively conversations in the book. They really make the characters come to live. I did not like the Uncle Melnitz character or the fact that at every turn of the book we came back to some form of antisemitism. I thought those parts were the weaker parts of the book. On the other hand, I guess you can't write a
Will Bell
What a wonderful novel, this was absolutely superb to read and I have not enjoyed a novel this much for a long time. The chapter towards the end, where Herr Grun hits Joni over the head with an iron in the Kosher Clothing company, the poignant final words from Kamionker, the way in which the end of the book carefully moves towards it's final conclusion...

Oct 04, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: did-not-finish
I tried so hard to like this book, as it's one of my mother's all time favorites. I just couldn't keep myself reading it. I think I got about 200 pages in and then it just fell by the wayside. Boring and slow was all I can really say about it. Sorry Ma! ...more
Brigitte Goldstein
An extraordinary saga of a Swiss Jewish family ranging from 1871 to 1945.
Aug 04, 2020 rated it it was ok
almost made it to the end .. but not completely. Interesting for a while, but felt a bit to patronizing towards the end
Jan De Meulder
Oct 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
Like everything he does: great!
Sep 09, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
‘Melnitz’ – translated to Dutch as ‘Het lot van de familie Meijer’ – portrays the lives of the members of 5 generations of a Jewish family in Switzerland. It is written in a magic realist style and though some of its magic seems to be lost in translation, the abundant use of Yiddish terms create a unique reading experience. The conscience and memory of the family and in a larger sense of the local Jewish community, in the figure of Melnitz is not convincing throughout the book, neither is it in ...more
Jun 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I am nearly at the end and it is a great book, a real classic, in the style of Thomas Mann's Buddenbrooks and Russian literature of the 19th century. The family saga covers many generations of the Jewish family through the history of Europe. The characters are unique, alive and the ghost of uncle Melnitz comes back to laugh at the young who believe that they know everything and at the old who still struggle with life and make the same mistakes. Don't want this book to end, thankfully there are m ...more
Dirkje Abma
Mar 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A touching saga, starts about a Jewish family living in a small place called Endingen when this long lost family member shows up and changes their lives forever. The storyline is really intriguing and the characters speak to your fantasy. The influence of anti-Semitism is always there at the background. The story takes you from this small town to this big city, Zurich in Switzerland, from small people to great personalities. Definitely worth your time and interest. I loved the book and couldn't ...more
A lengthy and fascinating look at a Swiss Jewish family in an epic novel spanning from 1871 to 1945. So, yeah, that covers a lot of information and a lot of history.

I finished reading it last night, so I feel strangely satisfied that it didn't quite take me a full month to read. Close, though. It is a big book.

Official review here.
Jan 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 5-stars, drama, read-2011
Amazing story. The characters are well defined. Lewinsky describes a certain period in their lives and then skips forward about 10-20 years. That makes it an easy read, because this way you get to know each character when they are young and when they are married (or not), have children (or not) and what they experience in life.
Apr 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: french, read-in-2012
I've read the French translation, and all the while felt like I was hearing my (Jewish, it goes without saying) grandma telling me family stories. Lewinsky hits the right tone all the time; I've laughed out loud, I've written down passages or read them out aloud to friends, I've cried. A great read. ...more
Mar 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Melnitz, by Charles Lewinsky, is the story of five generations of a Swiss Jewish Family. A fascinating novel full of great characters and intertwined stories spanning roughly a century, my favorite kind! A great family saga. I read it a few years ago, shortly after arriving in Switzerland, and I hadn't realized there had been five generations of Jews in Switzerland! I learned a lot. ...more
A beautifully-written and leisurely journey through the lives of five generations of one Jewish family in Switzerland from 1871 until World War 2. Underneath something powerful and terrible stirs, raising its head at intervals throughout the book, waiting to be unleashed by the rise of National Socialism. Watching it all is Melnitz.

Jul 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lisa by: Sue
Wonderful book. OK, it was a little depressing because some things never change. Also the English translation, British paperback edition I read had a distracting number of typos. But it was still a wonderful story - a historical novel, really - about several generations of a Swiss Jewish family from Napoleon to the Holocaust.

Thank you, Sue, for the recommendation.
Mary Stevens
Mar 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
A big, multi-generational saga of a Swiss Jewish family, told in four sections and beginning in 1871 and ending in 1937. Originally published in Switzerland and available now in an English translation, it makes for a very good (albeit long) read. If you like long family sagas (think Galsworthy's "Forsyte Saga",) you may well really enjoy this. ...more
Apr 08, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really liked this book. I read the Dutch version. When my friend gave it to me, I thought I would never finish it, but it is gripping and you do want to know what happens to the family. I learned a lot about the Jewish faith from this book.
Jul 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An interesting novel, about the situation of a Jewish family in Suisse/ Western Europe during 1870-1945.
The characters of Salamon, Chanele, Zalman, Arthur, Hillel and last but not least uncle Melnitz will stay in my mind for a long time.
Claire S
Sounds fascinating! To read either in English someday or when my German has extensively improved.
Jan 23, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love this book. It is about a story of a Jewish family, which lives in Switzerland. the story takes places between 1871 -1945.
Feb 15, 2010 rated it it was amazing
A wonderful jewish family history. You don't want the book to stop. You'd wish the characters to be alive and become part of your own life. ...more
Aug 31, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
a great read about a Jewish family, spanning the period 1870-1945 in Switserland
Oct 11, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great book, must read.
Dec 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
amazing , couldn't put it down. ...more
May 11, 2012 rated it liked it
Well worth reading, though I read the translation. It was the first novel I read about wartime Switzerland.
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Verbeelding Bookclub: Meiboek: Het lot van de familie Meijer 35 32 Jun 12, 2020 07:13AM  

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Lewinsky studierte Germanistik und Theaterwissenschaft in Zürich und Berlin (ohne Abschluss). Danach arbeitete er als Regieassistent bei Fritz Kortner und anschliessend als Dramaturg und Regisseur an verschiedenen Bühnen sowie als Redakteur und Ressortleiter der Sendung Wort-Unterhaltung des Schweizer Fernsehens. 1984 veröffentlichte er zusammen mit Doris Morf sein erstes Buch Hitler auf dem Rütli ...more

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