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4.28  ·  Rating details ·  7,026 ratings  ·  735 reviews
Two artists, two obsessions. Charlotte Salomon—born in pre-World War II Berlin to a Jewish family traumatized by suicide—was obsessed with art, and with living. She attended school in Germany until it was too dangerous to remain, fled to France, and was interned in a bleak work camp from which she narrowly escaped. Newly free, she spent two years in almost total solitude, ...more
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published May 31st 2016 by Harry N. Abrams (first published July 3rd 2014)
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Lisa It's a great many things. To sum it up, the author follows her path as we read, so there are contemporary elements to it, but it's mostly about Charlo…moreIt's a great many things. To sum it up, the author follows her path as we read, so there are contemporary elements to it, but it's mostly about Charlotte's life, set in her own time, from the informations the author gathered from her work and his everlasting passion toward her. (less)
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Average rating 4.28  · 
Rating details
 ·  7,026 ratings  ·  735 reviews

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Diane S ☔
Apr 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
I had never heard of this German/Jewish artist before picking up this book, but I have since looked her up and find her paintings fascinating. This is written in the prose style, a style I fell in love with after reading Brown Girl Dreaming, and it tells the story of this young woman and her family. She was born in Berlin, but her family thinks they are getting her to safety by sending her to France, which of course was safe only for a while.

The author inserts himself in the story, telling the r
Dave Schaafsma
A verse novel of two obsessions. The first, is Foenkinos's subject, Charlotte Salomon, a Jewish painter who died pregnant in Auschwitz, having spent the last couple of years of her life in relative solitude obsessively, maniacally, painting images of her and her family's life. I just reread a collection: Charlotte: A Diary in Pictures, including 80 of such paintings. When I first read it I became obsessed about her obsession, but could not find her other collection (until recently), Life? or The ...more
Dannii Elle
I received this in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. Thank you to the author, David Foenkinos, and the publisher, Cannongate Books, for this opportunity.

This book is a gripping portrait of an exceptional painter and young woman who suffered an early and tragic demise. Charlotte Salomon was gassed along with six million Jews, who were murdered at the hands of the nazis. She was just twenty-six when her life was tragically ended, and pregnant with her first child. Before this, she was
May 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What can I say about this book? At first I thought it didn’t download correctly and parts are missing. No was everything there.
I didn’t know about Charlotte Salomon, but I am going to buy her book now.
The style of writing adds an extra to this highly emotion-loaded book. In the end i was starring at my kindle with tears in my eyes.
This book is another example that simplicity and clarity of writing produce more emotion that long complicated filled with adjectives novels (😛)
„Asta e toata viata
Charlotte isn't easy to write about. What exactly is it? The story is based on fact: the life of German Jewish artist Charlotte Salomon, who was executed at Auschwitz aged 26. But it's clear that many of the scenes here are embellished, at least mildly fictionalised. At various points throughout the book, without breaking the flow of the narrative, Foenkinos talks about the process of writing Charlotte, his own fascination with Salomon, and the places he visited to get a sense of her life. This ...more
Jan 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

This book totally deserves his price and need to be translate asap!!

That's the word to express how I feel about this book. I read it in one sitting basically.
This book is about a young woman named Charlotte Salomon who was a German Jewish girl born in the wrong time.

This was such a powerful book. Reading about someone's life is absolutely fascinating and even more when this person is part of our History and here it is,a woman who died at the WW2.

The author's writing was absolutely wonderfu
Sleepless Dreamer
Jan 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
In my high school, we were expected to write matriculation projects. This meant a year of researching, coming up with a thesis, and writing a paper. As an art student trying to pick a topic, I was overwhelmed. There are so many fantastic artists out there and I was terrified that I'd pick an artist and then grow tired of them.

Until I saw Charlotte Salomon's work and then I knew, right when I saw her work, I absolutely knew that I could study it forever and ever and never grow tired. Charlotte S
Today, I told my roommate that Charlotte Salomon’s story is my favorite. But what did I mean? I think favorite has a specific connotation attached to it in American English. Our favorite things are usually what bring us the most joy, a delicious glass of wine or a beautiful tree or the embrace of someone we love.

I think, though, that favorite can and should encompass more. The works of art that I’ve come to realize are my favorites make me feel something extraordinary, bring me on a journey thr
So on one hand I really liked this - it's a clever mixture between a novel, a biography and a poem, and has the intensity of personal experience as well as the distance of hindsight. I'm intrigued by Charlotte Saloman and I am glad to have read this book and learnt about her. However, although it is innovative, I found myself unengaged for most of it. The writing style means we progress through time so quickly and learn so much but can't absorb it - so although it was interesting, after the firs ...more
David J
Jun 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
What an oddly brilliant novel-biography-memoir in quasi-verse. I'll now have to look up Life? or Theatre? ...more
Mike Sumner
May 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
'I am deeply, deeply affected by this sad, beautiful, indignant, wrenching, important book... It's stunning' Sarah Perry author of The Essex Serpent. How can I add to that. This story about Charlotte Salomon is heartbreaking - and true. I have read many books about the horrors of Naziism during the 2nd World War and their 'Final Solution'. Charlotte is different. David Foenkinos writes in prose form and it is this simplicity that makes Charlotte's story all the more lucid, inspiring and yet - aw ...more
Imen  Benyoub
Oct 18, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: france
David Foenkinos traces the life of Charlotte Salomon, a German Jewish artist from her early childhood until her death pregnant in a concentration camp.
Charlotte was a melancholic child, her mother suicided and her father was married to his work, she discovered art and entered an academy (as a jew it was a challenge but her talent was above racism). with the war, Charlotte, a young woman left Berlin, her family and her lover to live in France with her grandparents, there she will create her most
a really good, extremely well written book, but it made me miserable
Feb 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, translation
some uncertainties end as inevitabilities.
dolorous and devastating, david foenkinos's charlotte is the novelization of the tragic life of berlin-born jewish artist charlotte salomon. surrounded by suicide, young charlotte turned to art to make sense of her life and the world around her, developing a singular style that would later garner fair acclaim. while her talents drew attention early on, it wasn't until after she was murdered at auschwitz (at the age of 26, while pregnant) that her wor
Jan 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Many years ago I bought a book of reproductions of paintings by the artist Charlotte Salomon. I knew little about her except that she had died in Auschwitz at the age of 26. So my curiosity was piqued when I heard a discussion on the radio of a new novel about her life by the French novelist David Foenkinos, especially since the book was being praised enthusiastically. The paintings reproduced in my book are only a small selection of the 769 paintings that she completed as a visual autobiography ...more
I was deeply moved by this beautiful and haunting tribute to the life and incandescent talent of young Charlotte Salomon. She was raised in a cultured household in Berlin, survived strange repeated family tragedy, and had the prescience in her mid 20s to preserve her life's story in a unique way (that likely saved her sanity) before perishing naked and five-months-pregnant in a gas chamber in Auschwitz.

Foenkinos' choice to use short sentences each on one line, not unlike music lyrics, gives a pr
Roman Clodia
Dec 22, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
' To survive she must paint her story. That is the only way out'

This is a short but very potent book that combines an impressionist view of the short life of Charlotte Salomon, gassed at 26 with her unborn baby in Auschwitz, with the author's meditations on following her traces and how to convey her life in writing.

It's a story imbued with death: so many women in Salomon's family commit suicide, but she clings to a kind of immortality through her autobiographical paintings.

Foenkinos writes in an
Aug 26, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm unsure how to rate this. The writing was effortlessly beautiful and engaging, but Charlotte Salomon's life is possibly the single most depressing story I have ever read. It's such a short book, but I kept putting it down every couple of pages because of how sad everything was.
She was a remarkable woman and her story deserves to be told, and Foenkinos does it with a loving and understated grace and beauty. I am both curious to read more by him and to check out more of Salomon's paintings, bu
"To survive she must paint her story.
That is the only way out...
Did she have to reach the edge of what is bearable?
To finally consider art as the only possibility of life."

Wow. This book was so incredibly powerful and moving... I cried.

Charlotte tells the tragic (yet inspiring) true story of Charlotte Salomon- a German Jewish artist who died at the young age of 26- whilst pregnant- gassed in Auschwitz during the Holocaust. With a family history of depression and suicide, she fought for her sa
Jan 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
I’d never even heard of Charlotte Salomon before and how pleased I am to have now discovered her thanks to David Foenkinos’ powerful and moving fictionalised biography of her. He claims it is a novel but this seems disingenuous to me, as it is clearly based almost entirely on fact, not least as he drew on her own art as his principal source. Be that as it may, this exploration of her life and work is beautifully conveyed in very spare and simple language – every sentence is on a new line – and t ...more
Patrick Book
Feb 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018-reads
This is one of the most beautiful and best novels I’ve ever read. Vonnegut prized economy of words in his writing, insisting that every sentence should advance the story and give the reader something to grasp. I have never seen that concept executed so strongly and flawlessly and poetically. This is heartbreaking and moving and all that stuff.
Deepak Singh  Rawat
Will write the full review soon. As of now, I am just sad that I have finished reading this heart-breaking book. I want to read Charlotte Salomon's Life or Theatre next. ...more
Mar 27, 2022 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bookshelf
The format of this book was very unique; I had not come across anything like it before. Despite the simplicity of the sentences, each followed by a line break, they came together to paint such a vivid picture. I was entirely immersed! It was cinematic and incredibly poignant.

I am dying to get my hands on a copy of the traditional French edition!
Jillianne Ryca
So this is a true story which talks about Charlotte Salomon who was an artist. She was a German Jewish artist who died at the age of 26 while she was pregnant during the Holocaust in Auschwitz. Before reading this book, I've never heard of her before, but I'm glad I picked this up because it was so interesting to read! In this book the author actually includes himself in the story and explains why he was fascinated to write about Charlotte. We can see how he admires her greatly and through the w ...more
Jan 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: for-school
I read this book for my French class, so I wasn't expecting that much from it, however, it turned out to be a beautiful (yet haunting) book. Charlotte managed to escape the vicious cycle of suicides that her family was in, not because she didn't commit suicide, but because she was killed in Auschwitz' gas chambers before it was 'her time' to commit suicide. I suppose that, in a way, this was a victory for her.

I was a little disappointed that the author chose not to go into detail about what dre
Dec 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Charlotte by David Foenkinos is an intense and sad story about the ethereal Charlotte Salomon, a German Jewish painter caught in the horror of World War II. Charlotte comes from a family with a tragic legacy of suicide and begins to heal through painting obsessively. Foenkinos writing has a poetic spirit to it. Throughout the story he pulls the reader through Charlotte’s struggle to become whole while including facts about the Holocaust. This is a heartbreaking story but it is not without beauty ...more
Feb 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
Haunting story, beautifully and uniquely told. Classified as a novel, this tells the all-too-true story of Charlotte Salomon, the artist, and her short, trouble-filled life. The author admits to being obsessed with her, and adopts a very creative method for telling about her life and his obsession in a way that dignified both. Well done.
Haylee Lederer
Mar 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Just wow. What an amazing book. From the cover image, which I find stunning, to the structure of the text, to the pacing of story - I was enthralled with this story from start to finish. It is tragic, yet I find solace in the fact that her art survived. The style of writing is interesting, and yet, it fits the novel. I wouldn't say I enjoyed it, but I'm glad I read it. The ending killed me. ...more
Julie Bergesen
Feb 15, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Gave me lust for life whilst shattering my heart, currently crying
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David Foenkinos (born 28 October 1974) is a French author and screenwriter. He studied literature and music in Paris. His novel La délicatesse is a bestseller in France.A film based on the book was released in December 2011, with Audrey Tautou as the main character.

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“Les mots n’ont pas toujours besoin d’une destination. On les laisse s’arrêter aux frontières des sensations. Errant sans tête dans l’espace du trouble. Et c’est bien là le privilège des artistes : vivre dans la confusion.” 6 likes
“Las palabras no siempre necesitan un destino. Se les permite detenerse en las fronteras de las sensaciones.” 2 likes
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