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The Fortunate Ones

3.55  ·  Rating details ·  2,029 ratings  ·  298 reviews
One very special work of art—a Chaim Soutine painting—will connect the lives and fates of two different women, generations apart, in this enthralling and transporting debut novel that moves from World War II Vienna to contemporary Los Angeles

It is 1939 in Vienna, and as the specter of war darkens Europe, Rose Zimmer’s parents are desperate. Unable to get out of Austria, th
Hardcover, 324 pages
Published February 14th 2017 by William Morrow
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Julianna For me this was a waste of time . The story is interesting but the dialogue and characters are very wooden . Without good writing you might as well ju…moreFor me this was a waste of time . The story is interesting but the dialogue and characters are very wooden . Without good writing you might as well just read a summary.(less)
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Average rating 3.55  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,029 ratings  ·  298 reviews

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Cindy Burnett
Jan 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: giveaway
The Fortunate Ones was a very different book than I thought I was going to be reading. I love art and art mysteries so I was geared up to read that type of book. Instead, The Fortunate Ones is more a tale of loss, family bonds, and betrayal with a side story about a painting. While it was not what I was initially hoping for, I did like the book and felt that it was both entertaining and well-written.

The story takes place in two time periods, Europe in the 1930’s and 1940’s and Los Angeles in th
Diane S ☔
Feb 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: lor
3.5 review to follow.
Feb 27, 2017 rated it it was ok
I disliked the modern part of the book. I did not really like any of the characters and felt no great desire to know them better. I didn't like how the author very very briefly alluded to why the Bellhop painting meant so much to Rose's mother. I understood Rose's intensity about it and what to stood for but was interested in finding out her mother's intensity for it. ...more
Linda Lpp
Aug 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book for me has been a challenge to follow the story line. Descriptions from pre war times in Vienna to life in Los Angeles over the years after the war isn't the challenge. I am finding it distracting to read about reminiscent thoughts frequently interjected in present day scenerios such that it is easy to lose track of where you are in the story. There are times parents are called by their first names by the children, and other times Papi and Mutti for example. To be honest I got to page ...more
Aug 24, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: edelweiss
This book tells the story of the Zimmer family, a Jewish family living in Vienna in the late 1930’s, and the parents’ decision to send little Rose and her brother to England on a kinder transport to keep them safe from the oncoming war. The children are devastated to be sent off to different households in England. They are told that it will only be for six months but of course the horrendous war lasts much longer.

The Zimmer family possess a valuable painting by Chaim Soutere of a bellhop, which
Karima chermiti
I had such high hopes for this one, part historical fiction and part contemporary two of my favorite genre and a story following two women journey's in two different timelines, I couldn't hope for me but the story was such an average one that couldn't hook me in or hold me captive.

The Fortunate Ones is another forgettable read that I'm probably going to forget about minutes after writing this. Harsh, I know but it's the absolute truth.

Full review now posted

It’s always painful writing a review
The story follows two women, Rose in Vienna in the 1930s/1940s, and Lizzie in Los Angeles in the early 2000s. What brings them together is a painting by the Jewish painter, Chaim Soutine. The painting graced the walls of both of their families at different periods of time, but they both lost the painting through varying events.

The story itself, with the painting, and even aspects of their individual lives, are interesting, though there's a strange fixation on fertility that touches each characte
Jan 03, 2017 rated it it was ok
eh, didn't really work for me. had trouble getting into and staying with it, and overall, just an average read. ...more
Aug 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Bellhop. A painting which hung in Rosa's home, first in her father's study, and then which her mother, on her deathbed, longed to see. The painting had been purchased by Rosa's Mutti during a trip to Paris, and was confiscated by the Nazis in WWII Vienna.

Years later, Lizzie Goldstein's father bought The Bellhop, the seller unaware of its value. Again, it disappears in a robbery of the family home.

A half a century later, Lizzie and Rose meet, and soon discover their shared love of this missi
Jun 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
I had noticed this book last year and thought it would be a good fit for my book club, as we enjoy reading historical fiction or books about Judaism. This one has both elements. I will admit that if it hadn't been chosen for book club, it might have taken me even longer to pick up. When I did finally pick it up, it took some time to get into, as there were parts that dragged a bit before they picked up mid-story. Some of this is attributed to pronoun switches within a paragraph. I had to re-read ...more
Sarah Beth
Dec 14, 2016 rated it liked it
I received an uncorrected proof copy of this novel as a giveaway on Goodreads.

As the war threatens Vienna in 1939, Rose Zimmer's parents make the difficult decision to send her and her older brother to safety in England. After the war, alone and attempting to build a life in the rubble of war, Rose finds herself seeking out one memento of her childhood, a painting of a bellhop by Chaim Soutine that her mother had loved. Many years later, in modern-day Los Angeles, Lizzie Goldstein is adrift aft
Fighting a stomach bug: will post a review in a few days!
Sue Seligman
Apr 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Fortunate Ones by Ellen Umansky is an historical novel weaving past and present through the lives of two women and a shared passion for locating a portrait painted by Chaim Soutine. Rose Zimmer and her brother Gerhard are the children in an affluent Jewish family growing up in Vienna when the Nazis invade Austria. After their parents fail to obtain visas for leaving they, like many other desperate parents, secure passage for their children on the Kindertransport to England. Their parting gif ...more
Apr 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The Fortunate Ones is a riveting debut novel by Ellen Umansky. The story moves from World War II Vienna to contemporary Los Angeles. The core of Umansky’s plot is a beautiful painting that is looted during the war. Eleven-year-old Rose Zimmer is forced to leave her parents behind in 1939 Vienna when they put her on a kindertransport to live with strangers in England. Her life is saved, but her parents do not survive the war. Rose is filled with grief and guilt. As she tries to build a life for h ...more
Good Book Fairy
Mar 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
The Fortunate Ones was at first glance about a famed, twice stolen piece of art, and the connections it brings throughout the generations. I can assure you that in reading this book; you’ll be drawn into the past and the present with a story about forgiveness, guilt, secrets, lies, love, survival, family ties and friendship. It’s a multi-layered story in a short 324 pages.

The artwork stolen in this novel, by master artist Chaim Soutine, is fictional. Yet this piece of art is the catalyst that br
Carol Bailey
Mar 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Reading about WWII delights me. This story is not your usual book about WWII, but from the prospective of the children that were growing up during this time. Rose and Gerhard were put on a train and ended up in England living with two different families in order to survive this wartime era. Rose married and then moved to California and lived for many year. It really doesn't focus on the war, but on the materialistic things that survived the war, particularly a painting called The Bellhop. ...more
Really a 3.5 so wish they let us give half points!
I found this book to be more chic-lit type, it wasn't totally but close
I really liked the story about Rose and growing up away from her parents, then there is Lizzie and I didn't care much about her at all to be honest! But I can see the author did a lot of research on her part for the topic of both the Kindertransport and the stolen paintings during the war.
Susan Bennett
Jun 11, 2017 rated it liked it
Two women from different generations meet at the funeral of the younger woman's father and find that they have a stolen Chaim Soutine painting in common. When the purloined painting is finally located, they discover that seeing the painting again doesn't reconcile the past, but they have learned to accept unchangeable events and to live in the present. ...more
Apr 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Ellen Umansky is an excellent writer. It is evident that she has studied and worked hard at perfecting her style. This is an impressive first novel. Ms. Umansky did a great job of intertwining some WWII history as well as some art history. She also wove the two stories very well. The character development was written extremely well. I would recommend this book.
Cheryl Schlesinger
Just a good book!

One of my accidental finds that has been sitting in my to read shelf for some time being pushed aside for others. Thoroughly enjoyable story of two women who connect over a lost painting by Soutine and the symbolism of that painting to their emotions, relationships, and life beginning pre WWII and the other present day.
Mar 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book. I liked the detail to the story and the mystery behind the painting and what it had to do with World War 2. Its a good mystery and you don't find out until close to the end so it keeps you guessing. ...more
Feb 19, 2021 rated it it was ok
The story line had potential but the writing was clumsy and the author often contradicted herself. Most of the characters were unlikeable. I only stuck it out to find out what happened to the painting. Glad it’s over.
Karen Raskin
Jun 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
3.75 stars. Another novel with two story lines, one set during WWII Vienna and London, and one set 50 years later in modern day LA. As usual, the WWII story line was richer and more compelling. Rose, who left Vienna in the kindertransport and ended up in LA after the war, was the character who tied the two story lines together, but her modern voice didn't sound like her earlier self. Also, her relationship with the weak/needy character of Lizzie didn't ring true. But, there are some very powerfu ...more
Aug 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: giveaways
I won this as a Goodreads Giveaway. You never really know what you're going to get with giveaways, but the synopsis intrigued me. The book was very well written with an enjoyable story that kept me interested, and I'm very happy that I discovered it! ...more
Mar 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Ellen Umansky has written a wonderful first novel. It is 1939 in Vienna, and war darkens Europe. Rose Zimmer's parents are desperate. They try getting out through Austria and manage to secure passage for their young daughter on a kindeertransport and send her to live with strangers in England. When the war finally ends, Rose attempts to make a life alone in London. There is one thing that she longs for: a painting by Chaim Soutine that had belonged to her mother and lost during the war. Many yea ...more
Pearl Berman
Feb 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is the kind of page-turner you pick-up and can't put down. A smart, well written novel exploring the lives of two seemingly different women who share a love of art and an unlikely friendship. A must read!! ...more
Dec 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
I won a copy of this book in a Goodreads giveaway.
This is a touching story. Beginning in the early WWII war years in Austria and continuing to present day Los Angeles, it conveys the complexity of love and loss along with the interesting story of a lost painting. Both of the women, Lizzy and Rose, seemed so real to me. I really enjoyed this book.
Feb 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I love this novel. I know I blurbed this book but I told the absolute truth with my blurb. Ellen Umansky is a gorgeous writer. She spins such a suspenseful tale of family love and loss with evocative descriptions of Los Angeles, Vienna, London and so many specific cultures therein, and she has a sly wit that keeps the reader on their toes. I truly can't wait to read her next book. ...more
nikkia neil
Dec 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: edelweiss
Thanks Edelweiss for this ARC.

Lessons in life are hard won, lasting, and should change you you. The Fortunate Ones made me wince, laugh, and cry. I hope it makes just a big impression on everyone who reads it too.
Mar 24, 2017 rated it it was ok
Generally I love books about WWII but this book was just alright. I only finished it because I thought it would get better...
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Play Book Tag: The Fortunate Ones, by Ellen Umansky; 3 Stars 6 17 Sep 08, 2018 08:48PM  

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Ellen Umansky has published fiction and nonfiction in a variety of venues, including the New York Times, Salon, Playboy, and the short-story anthologies Lost Tribe: Jewish Fiction from the Edge and Sleepaway: Writings on Summer Camp. She has worked in the editorial departments of several publications, including the Forward, Tablet, and The New Yorker. She grew up in Los Angeles, and lives in Brook ...more

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