A PEOPLE BOOK OF THE WEEK
WINNER OF THE JQ–WINGATE LITERARY PRIZE
"A haunting tribute to survivors and those lost forever—and a reminder, in our own troubled era, never to forget." —People
An "exceptional" (The Wall Street Journal) and "poignant" (The New York Times) book in the tradition of rediscovered works like Suite Francaise and The Nazi Officer's Wife, the powerful memoir of a fearless Jewish bookseller on a harrowing fight for survival across Nazi-occupied Europe.
In 1921, Francoise Frenkel—a Jewish woman from Poland—fulfills a dream. She opens La Maison du Livre, Berlin's first French bookshop, attracting artists and diplomats, celebrities and poets. The shop becomes a haven for intellectual exchange as Nazi ideology begins to poison the culturally rich city. In 1935, the scene continues to darken. First come the new bureaucratic hurdles, followed by frequent police visits and book confiscations.
Francoise's dream finally shatters on Kristallnacht in November 1938, as hundreds of Jewish shops and businesses are destroyed. La Maison du Livre is miraculously spared, but fear of persecution eventually forces Francoise on a desperate, lonely flight to Paris. When the city is bombed, she seeks refuge across southern France, witnessing countless horrors: children torn from their parents, mothers throwing themselves under buses. Secreted away from one safe house to the next, Francoise survives at the heroic hands of strangers risking their lives to protect her.
Published quietly in 1945, then rediscovered nearly sixty years later in an attic, A Bookshop in Berlin is a remarkable story of survival and resilience, of human cruelty and human spirit. In the tradition of Suite Francaise and The Nazi Officer's Wife, this book is the tale of a fearless woman whose lust for life and literature refuses to leave her, even in her darkest hours.
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"Jilly Bond narrates this memoir, written by a Polish-Jewish woman and originally published in 1945. An ardent booklover, Frenkel opened the first French bookshop in Berlin in 1921. When the Nazis rose to power, she fled to France, only to find herself subjected to the restrictions against Jews imposed under the Vichy regime. Bond seamlessly shifts between English and French words, and expertly portrays both sympathetic and oppressive individuals. With subtle vocal shifts, Bond fully inhabits Frenkel's thoughts and emotions as she struggles to save her own life in a fraught political climate. Listeners will sense Frenkel's increasing fear through Bond's expressive narration and varied pacing. A gripping audio presentation of events that should never happen again. M.J. © AudioFile 2019, Portland, Maine"
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