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On the Sickle's Edge

4.29  ·  Rating details ·  75 ratings  ·  22 reviews
What we cannot keep. What we cannot lose.

A sweeping masterwork of love and loss, secrets and survival, On the Sickle's Edge is told through the voices of three characters who lay bare their family's saga: the endearing, scrappy South-African born Lena, transported to Latvia and later trapped in the USSR; her granddaughter Darya, a true Communist whose growing disillusionme
Paperback, 474 pages
Published December 31st 2016 by Dialogos
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4.29  · 
Rating details
 ·  75 ratings  ·  22 reviews

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May 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Set in the 20th century and spanning generations, On the Sickle's Edge chronicles a Jewish family's struggle to survive in Soviet Russia. Lena Shtein, born in South Africa of Latvian parents, suffers her first loss at birth. Following the death of her mother delivering twins, Lena's father divides his family, leaving his two older sons behind in South Africa, and travels back to Latvia with his three younger children. Neville Frankel has written a compelling novel - part saga, part historical fi ...more
Zohar -
On the Sickle’s Edge by Neville D. Frankel is a novel following generations of Russian Jews and their struggle with their religion, society and economic system. Mr. Frankel was born in South Africa and immigrated to Boston.

The book follows three generations of the same family, trapped in the USSR. Lena, born in South Africa and brought back to Russia, only to find herself stuck there. Darya, Lena’s granddaughter and a true believer in Communism who is becoming disillusioned with the system she l
Nov 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I stayed up far too late to finish this novel in anticipation of hearing the author speak tomorrow. It was well worth the loss of sleep. This historical fiction novel tells the story of life in Russia and the USSR spanning four generations. A compelling and interesting read, I learned a lot and enjoyed the characters immensely.
Rebecca Hill
May 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Grace Troxel
Jan 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This review originally appeared on my blog, Books Without Any Pictures:

On the Sickle's Edge is a multigenerational saga by Neville Frankel that chronicles the story of a Jewish family through the rise and fall of the former Soviet Union. The story of the Shtein family spans many decades and three continents, and provides a glimpse into how ordinary people lived through turbulent periods of history.

The story focuses on three main protagonists. There's Lena,
May 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
“On the Sickle’s Edge” contains sections, sometimes just sentences, that force you to stop and think.

It is set in Russia from 1915 and spans to the collapse of the Soviet Union. It is a historical novel, partly based on the author’s personal history but mostly birthed through research and imagination. The reader experiences how government policy, made so indifferently, results in the suffering of hundreds of thousands of families to millions of individual lives.

“All that is needed is a governm
Meg - A Bookish Affair
"On the Sickle's Edge" is a story told in three parts about one extended family whose lives are driven by the Soviet Union. It either tears them apart or pushes them together throughout the book. There is Lena, whose family is torn apart when they leave South Africa for the USSR in the early 1900s. There is Darya, Lena's granddaughter, who is firmly entrenched in the government and living at a time when the Soviet dream is starting to fray. Steven is the great great nephew of Lena and knows noth ...more
May 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

On a Sickle’s Edge by Neville D Frankel
How do I describe this well written, interesting book? I think all of these genres would sum it up perfectly: historical, political thriller and love story. It is set mostly in the Soviet Union and is the story of a family whose Jewish identity is concealed as they seek to survive the aftermath of the Czar’s fall in Russia.

Inspired by Neville Frankel's personal family history, On the Sickle's Edge is a multi-generational Jewish family saga, told through th
This was a well written, clearly well researched, and thought provoking novel. I was hooked right from the start and even though this is almost 500 pages, this book never released its claws.

This story was an intense story of love, loss, poverty, sacrifice, and what we would do for those we love. This is the first book I have read about the USSR and I found it both fascinating and terrifying. I felt like I was there, in the thick of it with Lena and Darya. The choices they were forced to make we
May 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
This was a fantastic book that had a fairly slow start. The book follows the history of three main characters: Lena (great-grandmother), Darya (grand-daughter) and Steven (a missing cousin). The build-up is a little more of a meandering story giving the history of the each individual characters within the context of the historical changes in the USSR. It is fascinating to see how things unfold, the decisions that people are forced to make and then how the political climate drove the decisions fo ...more
Jaina Rose
Feb 27, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: blogged
This review is also available on my blog, Read Till Dawn.

Okay, first, full disclosure: there is no way on earth that I would have finished reading On the Sickle's Edge if it weren't for the fact that I hadn't promised to review it for a TLC book tour. As it is, I wound up skipping in the second half. It's not that the book is poorly written, because it actually grabs the attention very well for an over 400-page historical novel. I've always been fascinated by the horrors of life under the USSR r
This was an exceptional read. This is the benefit of Goodreads giveaways. I probably would never have bought this book if I saw it in a bookstore, but Goodreads, through their giveaway program, allowed me to win it. Once won, I felt obligated to read it. I'm so glad I did.

I'll wrote more of this review when it's not three in the morning. For now, I'll say that this is a book worthy of your time and effort.

I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway. It took forever to arrive, and when it did, it w
Mar 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Allow time when you start On The Sickle's Edge because you won't be able to put it down. Frankel amazingly weaves 3 themes into one cohesive narrative. The reader will find a rich and troubling story of the Jewish struggle in northeastern Europe (Latvia), love stories over several generations, and a political thriller about dissidents in the Soviet Union. All of these elements combine with great attention to detail, providing the reader with vivid images of both people and places. Obviously well ...more
How nice to actually really enjoy a book club book! The characters are rich and complete, and they covered 6 generations starting in (one of those Eastern Bloc countries that I will remember the name of when I don't need to…), and ending in Boston. And the representation presented of the USSR appeared to be well balanced and complete. There were definitely the good side presented as well as the corruption and total misery. The people who lived there were torn between "loving it and making do" an ...more
Nov 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Intricately woven, multigenerational journey spanning more than a century starting with two Jewish siblings in Latvia to South America to Russia/Soviet Union to America. Part of the family hides their Jewish roots to survive, yet these roots do not get lost. The reader lives the history and times of these countries, which can be dark, as the characters' stories are told, including intrigue in the latter part of the book. A good read.
Jun 05, 2017 rated it liked it
First 2 sections of this book were really, really good - new understanding of WWII Russia. From the 3rd section on, the book sunk to a love story with cliched language...boring. I would have given the book 5 stars if it continued without the mush (topic and writing), and would have given it 2 stars when it turned in to a sappy romance so...3.5 is my average.
Mar 25, 2017 rated it liked it
A good story, worth at least 4 stars had it not been bogged down with too much description, too much sex, and too many details!
I won this book on Goodreads and I ALWAYS appreciate the chance to read and review new books!
I love historical novels, but this one just kept me hanging didn't grab me the way some others do,
Actually a 2.5, this book started as a 5-star, with a fabulous telling of historical fiction. After part 3, however, it descended into a sappy romance story with lots of moist folds and smooth muscles. I know it still covered the chasm between the have and have-nots, but I thought the author completely lost his way. Pity.
Dec 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very good book!
Feb 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Originally published at Reading Reality

This book is many things, and all of them awesome.

At its heart, if feels like a fictional history of the Soviet Union, but not as is usually done in historical fiction, from the perspective of the movers and shakers. Instead, this feels like a story set among the “groundlings”, as they were called in Shakespeare’s day. Or a “lower-decks” story set on a ship, whether historical or science fictional.

In other words, this is view of life in the Soviet Union fro
Jill Greenberg
Jan 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A good historical novel takes you back to a time of some significance and conveys to you the spirit, as well as the history, of a particular era, all the while engaging you in the drama of several characters who illuminate different aspects and views of that time. However, a great historical novel also allows you to breathe and smell the air surrounding those characters, taste their food, feel what they're feeling as they embrace one another, and transport you to that world, however different it ...more
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Ricky J Schrieber
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Apr 02, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: giveaway
Thanks to the Brooklyn Social Media for their sponsorship of the free book giveaway. Receiving a free copy did not affect my review. When I first start reading this book I was all set to give it four stars, then it was three and I wrapped up the book with two stars. Halfway through the book, it went from an intriguing historical fiction to a Lifetime Movie of the Week with too graphic accounts of sexual encounters and physical torture. This was not what I signed up for when I expressed my intere ...more
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Born in Johannesburg, South Africa, Neville Frankel immigrated to Boston with his family when he was 14. After graduating from Dartmouth College, he pursued doctoral work in English literature at the University of Toronto. While in Canada, he wrote The Third Power, a well-reviewed political thriller about the transformation of Rhodesia to Zimbabwe.

He also received an Emmy for his work on a BBC doc