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The Pieces from Berlin
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The Pieces from Berlin

3.06  ·  Rating details ·  167 Ratings  ·  41 Reviews
In the great disorder of wartime Berlin, Lucia Muller-Rossi was an unofficial star: mistress to an Ambassador, the whole world to her young son, and guardian of all the lovely things her Jewish friends were forced to leave behind as they took the trains tothe death camps. Sixty years later, one of those fine pieces sits for sale in the window of Lucia's antiques shop-- and ...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published February 10th 2004 by Vintage (first published January 1st 2002)
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May 07, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: historical, ww2
I'm interested in our contemporary struggle to return art and family treasures lost or stolen during the Nazi regime. Searching for reading material on the subject, this book cropped up in the library card catalogue.

It is a chilling novel that centers on the struggle to survive in Nazi Germany and the painful memories that linger decades later.

For me, this was not so much a book I sought to enjoy, but a subject I am eager to understand a bit more. Pye's novel offers some perspective on how Jewis
Benedetta Ammannati
RECE: Oggetti da Berlino - Pye - Voto: 3
La storia sembra interessante, per la protagonista Pye si è ispirato a Andreina Schwegler-Torré, la ladra d'arte che depredava gli ebrei durante la guerra.
Lucia la protagonista ha avuto una vita ricca e tranquilla in Svizzera quando una donna riconosce nel suo negozio di antiquariato un suo tavolino.
Il libro è lento, i personaggi non sono ben delineati, la storia è così sgranata che è difficile capire chi è il buono e chi il cattivo. Solo nelle ultime 50 p
Jun 26, 2017 rated it it was ok
I would give this 2.5 stars. It starts very slowly and the story only appears in bits and pieces. I stuck with it through sheer will & it did get better at the end.
Marilyn Lagier
Feb 18, 2015 rated it it was ok
The premise of the novel sounded interesting enough that I ripped the "calendar page" from the 2004 Book a Day calendar long ago. I finally got around to purchasing the novel. It revolved around an Italian woman, married to a Swiss man, who received goods from Jews living in Berlin during WW II. The goods ended up in her shop in Switzerland and years later, a woman passes by the window and spots a table she had owned. So, that certainly sounded intriguing. But then I began reading. The plot beca ...more
J. Dru
Jun 13, 2009 rated it it was ok
The pitfall of this book, for me at least, was the marketing. I was expecting a first-person narrative of events in 1940's Berlin detailing a woman's life before and during WWII, and the actions she takes in response. I wanted her story; I ached for her story throughout the entire novel. I wanted her motives, her thoughts, her actions, her circumstances. Instead, I received a roundabout novel about a granddaughter attempting to rid herself of inherited shame. I could not share completely in her ...more
Jul 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
A quietly understated book that gradually gains momentum, until the final resolutions resonate like bomb shaken Berlin. An elderly woman sees a piece of her past in another old womans store and sets up of events that force all the characters to evaluate their roles in WWII and the consequences of decisions made or not made. Thought provoking , and not cliched, this book forces one to ask what they would have done in the same circumstances. We finally must conclude that evil, sugar-coated is evil ...more
Apr 13, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
based on true stories of berliners secreting fine art out of germany to switzerland, then selling said meissens, picassos, etc.. and making millions. this is the story of one such woman, and her family, and those that try to bring her to justice. its a good story, but i don't prefer author pye's style of "reportage" rather than narrative. that said, this is a significant novel and will be around for many long (centuries?) years, let us hope.
Jan 01, 2014 rated it liked it
A deep look into how survival fuels greed's grip. The past does not stay the past when it is ignored, instead it becomes a hidden prison that drives us to hide from the truth of living with our imperfections. Fascinating read that actually gave me pause to notice the ways what one experiences is a part of what one becomes...but the final chapter is still being written in our lives by what we choose now.
Sue Gabianelli-danneker
this book is based lightly on a true event in history. a woman born of swiss/italian decent is entrusted with peoples monies and valuable during the war for safe keeping. She takes these pieces and benefits over time selling and reselling them herself but never forwarding the profits back to those owners or the families of the original owners. It comes back to haunt her in her old age after the war is long over.
Apr 30, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Appassionante solo nelle ultime 100 pagine, in cui si riesce finalmente a capire il senso di tutto il libro. Molto confusionario e superficiale, viene raccontata una vicenda molto forte senza però entrare nei particolari, anche i personaggi sono solo abbozzati e non ben delineati, per questo non sono riuscita ad amare od odiare nessuno di loro, forse solo il povero Nicholas, che è stato l'unico capace di commettere un'azione eclatante in un appiattimento generale.
Il titolo prometteva bene...
Apr 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
A novel about the aftermath of WWII and the Jews whose property was stolen, as well as of the people who stole the property (mostly art work). Several generations are affected by the actions of one woman who, according to the way she justifies it, was just trying to provide for herself and her son.
Jan 11, 2010 rated it it was ok
eh - the book seemed to be in need of some editing. It didn't flow and lots of parts were just clunky in both dialouge and pace. It seemed to have the potential to be very interesting especially being based on a true events (the main character was based off a real person) but for some reason, it just didn't work.
Mar 23, 2008 rated it it was ok
Recommended to ~mad by: Mary P
Shelves: booksiveread
I plugged my way through this one - I usually an interested in Nazi Germany and that time - this one was hard - would not recommend.
The story was very depressing on top of the subject matter. While I loke to read books of people who persevere, this one portrayed a woman with little or no remorse.

Don't bother. Sorry.....
Apr 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Michael Pye's underrated gift as a writer is the ability to portray the wholeness--good, bad, ordinary--of character through vivid observation of human action, reaction, and gesture. He makes you feel the very heart of humanness struggling to make personal autobiography meaningful--palatable even--in the face of the past's hard truths.
Apr 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
I think it was a great interpretation of what happened in the black market in Berlin and throughout Europe during WW2. Had some language in it but not too much, came with the times I think.

Not as exciting as I hoped BUT still interesting to read and possibly purchase later in the future
Jul 23, 2011 rated it it was ok
An interesting topic that falls short due to some mediocre story-telling. The plot develops slowly and then characters are introduced, complications barely explained and nothing is ultimately settled. The short, choppy paragraphs left me feeling frustrated. Overall this felt incomplete.
Apr 24, 2009 rated it did not like it
Yet another book club tedious read. I couldn't care less about Lucia (the smuggler), her son Nicholas, or her granddaughter Helen. I did get one good quote out of it: "They were a closed society, not ready even for a biological intruder". Apt for childless couple who choose to be that way.
Aug 22, 2010 rated it it was ok
An interesting story about an ethically challenging topic. However, the author writes in an obtuse way that seems intended to infuse the story with depth, but instead just makes the descriptions of everything that happens somewhat vague.
Katy M
Aug 19, 2014 rated it liked it
It was good, but it seemed a little disjointed and confusing.
Aug 06, 2009 rated it did not like it
Another one I gave up on. It looks back at WWII in Europe in short, choppy sections made up of short, choppy sentences, and with little sense of story line.
Jan 20, 2009 rated it liked it
curious writing style. The whole story is given away with the book jacket. thought it was anti-climactic.
Sep 26, 2009 rated it it was amazing
non-linear storytelling
Jessica Ost
Mar 03, 2016 rated it liked it
A thought provoking and gritty portrayal of human nature and motherhood.
Sep 14, 2009 rated it it was ok
Yet ANOTHER one of those books that has a fabulous cover, but anything but fabulous insides.
Mar 26, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2-or-less-stars
didn't get that far as I thought it wasn't like I thought it would be...
Apr 07, 2009 rated it did not like it
What a snore. Anti-climactic, blah. The whole story is given away in the dust-jacket.

I want the last hour I spent finishing it back!
Rachel Blancette
Dec 30, 2010 rated it really liked it
This book keeps you thinking about it afterwards
Jan 05, 2011 is currently reading it
Shelves: surpisingly-bad
Not going to finish it this time, maybe give it a try another time but for now it goes under surprisingly bad!
Aug 27, 2015 rated it liked it
An interesting look at moral judgement before and after WWII, and how people justify their actions while bombs go off all around them and their Jewish neighbours begin to disappear.
Apr 08, 2008 added it
Recommends it for: no one
It starts out so well, but the later half of the book is unreadable. No praise for this book. The writer really gave up half way through.
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Michael Pye writes for a living -- as novelist, journalist, historian and sometimes broadcaster. He is English by birth, but civilized by study in Italy and a newspaper apprenticeship in Scotland. For twenty years he commuted between New York and Europe as a political and cultural columnist for British newspapers. He now lives with his partner John Holm in a tiny village in the forests of rural Po ...more
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“they were a closed society, not ready even for a biological intruder” 1 likes
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