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Of Bitter Herbs and Sweet Confections

4.41  ·  Rating details ·  39 ratings  ·  17 reviews
Of Bitter Herbs and Sweet Confections is a fictionalized memoir, which tells the moving story of Tanya, a Jewish teenager forced to flee her Polish hometown in order to escape the Nazis. Tanya's sweeping odyssey of changing fortunes, taking her across thousands of kilometers far away from the death camps of Europe, is both heartrending and heartwarming. This inspiring stor ...more
Kindle Edition, 200 pages
Published January 1st 2019 by Studio Maytal Amir
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Sleepless Dreamer
Jun 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
When I was about 11 years old, I went through this phase where I read a lot of Holocaust books like Number the Stars and I Have Lived a Thousand Years. It seems that there's quite a niche of Holocaust related novels about the journeys of young girls and as a young kid, I somehow felt compelled to read them all. (and can tell you all now, do not let young children read I Have Lived a Thousand Years because that book absolutely scarred me for life).  

Of Bitter Herbs and Sweet Confections falls dir
Lewis Weinstein
Mar 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
It may seem odd to call a book charming when it covers events so difficult and horrific, but I found myself, page after page, charmed by Tanya’s journey. Her remarkable father instilled a sense of persistence and an uncanny ability to stay ahead of the forces threatening to engulf his family. Tanya follows his lead without hesitation, and later, when she’s on her own, shows she has learned the lessons he taught. This is true even when a decision proves to be wrong, such as returning to Poland af ...more
Oct 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Written in first person POV, ‘Of Bitter Herbs and Sweet Confections’ by Susan Shalev is a fictionalized memoir of the World War II era, based on the true life experiences of the author's late mother-in-law. 

You can read this review as well as other reviews on:

The protagonist, Tanya Anglische lives in Nowy Sącz along with her parents and two younger brothers. She is a carefree, normal child whose life changes forever in the Summer of 1939, when her family i
Sep 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Of Bitter Herbs and Sweet Confections is by Susan Shalev. This is a fictionalized biography of Tamar Englander Shalev as written by her daughter-in-law. It is based on a collection of tapes Tamar’s daughter persuaded her to make while mourning for her own mother in 1987. The tapes were then set aside and rediscovered after her death (Epilogue). It is amazing to me that survivors have such vivid memories of their lives during the years of the Holocaust. However, I suppose that such horrific and t ...more
Jun 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
The author of the novel that is the subject of this review, Of Bitter Herbs and Sweet Confections, approached me on Goodreads and sent me a review copy. Later I discovered that I had purchased it on Amazon some time ago, and hadn't gotten around to reading it because of all the requests I get from authors, publishers and publicists. There are books that I recently acquired that aren't being read because my mind is currently engaging with this book by Susan Shalev.

This is a coming of age book ab
May 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Of Bitter Herbs and Sweet Confections narrates the harrowing journey of a Jewish family seen through the eyes of Tanya, the teenage daughter, that takes them from a privileged life in Nowy Sacz in Poland to the icy wilderness of Siberia, and then to Tajikistan, Europe, and finally to the Jewish land of Israel.

The book, a fictionalized memoir based on true events, chronicles a decade of Tanya’s life from 1939 to 1949, and Shalev tells the story with great sensitivity and unusual insight. In a ri
Feb 04, 2019 added it
Originally experienced through the eyes of a young girl, this calm and wise portrayal of a Polish Jewish family during the Holocaust is an impelling saga of character and determination. It is an enthusiastically told yet unemotionally driven description of how each individual grapples with the new realities along their unplanned and unimagined journey. It should prove to be useful and meaningful to young and old today as we, unfortunately, continue to strive to understand the ever-present mindle ...more
Apr 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Stunningly beautiful

A great personal narrative of the tragedy of the second world war. I was immersed in the experience and read eagerly.
BreeAnn (She Just Loves Books)
What I Loved:

Susan Shalev’s writing sucked me into this story. I would be distracted while I was reading by something (a child or my husband) and I felt like I was coming out of a trance. I truly stepped into the pages of this book and was pulled into these character’s lives.

How I Felt:

When I started this book, I fully expected this to be a story surrounding a concentration camp, however, I was completely surprised to find that it was not. Instead, Of Bitter Herbs and Sweet Confections tells a d
Gila Shmueli
Feb 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a first-person account of a teenage girl, later a young woman, who flees with her parents and two brothers from Nazi-occupied Poland eastward: first to a Russian labor camp in Siberia, from there to Tajikistan, and at the end of the war, through DP camps in Austria and Germany, eventually arriving in British-held Palestine. It is a story like so many other eyewitness accounts: the incredulity, shock and suffering of discrimination, later of persecution, that befell all Jews in Europe dur ...more
Jean Roberts
Jul 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Of Bitter Herbs and Sweet Confections by Susan Shalev
Self-Published December 2018
198 pages
Genre: Biographical Historical Fiction

Reviewers Note: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

Of Bitter Herbs and Sweet Confections is a wonderfully written book. I was immediately pulled into the story of Tanya and her family. The year 1939, ten-year-old Tanya has no concerns other than hanging with her friends and members of successful Jewish family. Her father makes sweets,
Jack Hoffmann
Dec 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An Anna Frank Who Survived

Thousands of books have been written about the fate of the Jews of Europe during WWII. Most depict their slaughter. Few tell of the survivors. Susan Shalev does the latter in Bitter Herbs and Sweet Confections.
Holocaust survivors usually remain silent about their survival. Shalev was lucky enough to gain access to recordings left by a survivor. She has fleshed out the bare bones on these tapes into a tapestry of enormous scale, bringing to life, in intricate detail, a s
Alice Missions
Mar 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
This novel reads more like a memoir than a novel, but rather than diminishing the book, this is actually what gives it its impact. Despite dealing with some of the most turbulent and traumatic events in recent history, the author dwells very little on the high drama, which helps to avoid cliché and melodrama. Instead it is as though the author is simply allowing the young girl/woman narrator to tell her story.
This is a thought-provoking novel dealing with an interesting and important period of
Kimberly DuBois
May 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is an enjoyable, easy read, that gives a unique perspective on one family's experience with the Holocaust. I appreciate the author's tone and style, writing a story that is both interesting and engaging, but not too heavy, considering the subject matter. I love that this is about a real woman and the difficulties she and her family faced surviving as a Jew, and thoroughly enjoyed learning about the nuances of their everyday lives. What a wonderful way to not only honor the main character's ...more
Reut Zriri
Jan 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
So far, a heartwarming beautiful book I can't bring myself to put down. ...more
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Jan 31, 2020
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Steve Strouzer
Feb 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
10 out of 10 for “Of Bitter Herbs and Sweet Confections.” I really enjoyed reading the book. I thought the interpretation of a young girls view of the changing and threatening world in which she lived just before and during the Second World war was very well executed and convincing. I liked the narrative style, which was powerful and urged the reader to move on to the next set of episodes. The descriptions were atmospheric and the stoicism of the family in their changing circumstances was very m ...more
barbara stone
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Jun 18, 2020
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Apr 29, 2020
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rated it it was ok
Oct 05, 2019
Susie James
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Datul Palivec
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Readers That Love...: inspirational story for lockdown 1 8 Jun 02, 2020 03:14AM  
Book Bloggers of ...: an inspiring read for lockdown 1 4 Jun 02, 2020 03:07AM  
Jewish Historical...: An inspiring read in lockdown 1 22 Jun 02, 2020 03:03AM  
Jewish Historical...: Covid-19 2 10 Mar 22, 2020 06:38PM  
Jewish Book Carnival: Covid-19 1 13 Mar 22, 2020 01:19AM  
Readers That Love...: free promotion 2 19 Feb 04, 2020 12:35AM  
Holocaust/WW II Lit: free for Holocaust Remembrance Day 2 4 Feb 04, 2020 12:31AM  

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I was born and raised in London, England.
I graduated from the University of Manchester in 1973 with a BA Hons in Psychology and began a career in Human Resources.
I immigrated to Israel in 1976, and married my husband Uri in the same year. We have been blessed with four children and ten grandchildren.
During a short relocation to Scotland I studied for an MSc in Industrial Relations at Strathclyd

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