This was the first book I read with my new book club and I feel I need to rationalize the four instead of five star rating The story is so important, and so deftly told, and the author does a great job of capturing the lives of citizens in a small German town from post WWI through post WWII I felt like I came to know many of the characters personally I cried several times I had to really rethink what I know about history And there were moments in the book where I literally had to stop reading just so that I could mentally and emotionally process what was happening But man oh MAN was it difficult to get into I didn t hit my reading stride until well into the book, and still I continued to struggle through the rest of the way Sure, there were passages that flowed wonderfully, filled with amazing, vivid imagery and flawless characterization But, as my pal Emily said at our meeting She really made you work for it Which, in no way means this is not a worthwhile book After all, struggle, progress, interconnection, yadda yadda But it s not one of those books that you sink into lazily and backstroke through the whole way It s much like treading carefully through a rocky bottom stream, having to pause before each step, checking to find the most stable stone for your foot which is already cut and bruised and sore , and all the while having to be alert enough so you don t get sidetracked by a floating log and bumped off of your foothold and back into a bed of unforgiving stones Which, I guess, makes the title of the story just a little apropos than it already is.
She stood firm in the midst of ridicule She chose life in the middle of war She took action instead of simply staying silent to atrocity She gave people books and stories to take them away from their dismal worlds of hunger and strife Despite being a little woman who was pitied and bullied because of her height, she chose people and books She was not all good, but she was not all bad She was human Staying close to the jetty, she d streak through the shallow water like a frog, dive to the brown sediment of mud and let it billow around her, wishing her body matched its color so she could let it camouflage her Here, the river belonged to her In the water she felt graceful, weightless even, and when she moved her arms and legs, they felt long This novel is about dreams, about the wants and desires of people forced into poverty, about the price for being different, about the cruelty of humanity.
She was born to a mother who went insane once she saw what seemed like a large head and small limbs of her beautiful daughter, Trudi They call her a zwerg, dwarf Friends betray her, attack her, misuse her The town shuns her, pities her Can she find happiness, she wonders constantly Can she get married someday and have children Can she love herself, or will she continue to hang from the molding in the living room, stretching her limbs in order to get taller Despite her turmoil, she has a father s unconditional, tender love She has stability at the pay library they own She has her imagination, and with it, she becomes powerful again and very useful to the town Somehow, this spring was infusing her with new strength and hope, a deceptive hope, she reminded herself, and yet it soothed her, took her back to the river where, in the shallows below the weeping willows, the water had taken on a peculiar shade of opaque green as though it had soaked up the color of the new leaves, a green that suggested tranquility, reverence almost This story of the Montag family and the many characters that inhabit their lives during World War II Germany is not what I would call a page turner In the beginning it almost lost me, when a five year old s point of view seemed too mature Yet the novel is poised and elegiac It moves at its own pace, inserts backstory between dialogue at its leisure, and infuses various character viewpoints at random moments The story is sharp, the main character Trudi is alluring to follow, the scenes flow gracefully, and the infusing of political history is inciting and rich.
OK, yesterday I finished the book and I am having a very hard time choosing the stars and knowing what to say Yes, it is a very, very good book, BUT STILL it only received 4 rather then 5 stars The positive first The book is speckled with marvelous lines that get you thinking For example by getting closer to a smaller world, she had found a larger world Think about that and how true it is Trudi, the main character s father has died She says, What she missed most was the certainty of being able to share small details of your life with someone who knew you so well Who else would possibly care what you d thought while looking out of the window or what you d eaten for breakfast I feel the reader is strengthened, can learn something about how to live their life by having these small inconsequential views pointed out And of course, I agree On the larger scale, that which the book is maybe talking about , is German behavior during the Second World War This too was well depicted, allowing all different character types to be represented This part of the book was very difficult for me to read In all honesty, I began skimming I couldn t deal with all the atrocities, depicted one after the other There was no light anywhere, and in a sense I find this not to be correct How do you get through terrible times Only be seeking out the small things that can make one smile Further, the author discusses EVERYONE in the village It got to be too much for me I couldn t keep everyone straight, but yes I did care about them How can you write a book that isn t depressing about a time such as this Well the Book Thief by Kusak manages, by interspersing some points of joy in the blackness It is possible to achieve For this reason I finally chose 4 over 5 stars This book revolves around so many different themes the value of story telling, how people choose to live their lives in so diametrically opposed manners, the value of kindness, what is it that makes one person valued by friends and another not, about being different and, if I can say it one time, about kindness Should I have given it 5 stars Perhaps, but something keeps me back This was written when I started the book I have only read about 100 pages, but the writing has captured me Beautiful Not beautiful in a flat descriptive way, but that the author captures the souls of her characters Should I quote a few lines I am not sure if that would clearly express how these lines make the characters come alive Here follows one short line to chuckle over When Trudi is invited by her friend Georg to the blessing of cars, bikes, farm machines and other vehicles by the holy water of the village pastor, Trudi is told by Herr Abramowitz that catholic water rusts Jewish cars Lately I have been reading such marvelous books It is not that I am generous with praise, but rather that GoodReads is a fabulous site where readers can discover the books that they are seeking and where one is introduced to books that one has never before encountered I just had to say that I really love this site My only worry is that publishing companies and or authors turn it into an advertising medium What a shame that would be.
Right from the start I need to preface this review with the fact that I know my review will not do this story justice It is a most eloquent story told through Trudi, a dwarf born in a small German town during WWI This story actual begins during the first World War and continues through the second World War.
Trudi struggles with being a dwarf and hangs from her hands to stretch her body and tightly ties scarves around her head to keep it from getting any bigger She yearns for love and believes that she will not find love as a dwarf She supplements her desire by learning others secrets and using them to be somewhat of a storyteller Trudi endures teasing and general shunning by people all her life, but manages to come through WWII, even though The Reich is know to use such anomalies as test subjects As the story moves nearer to WWII, the sense of doom was so overwhelming to me, I nearly found myself screeching out loud I had not previously read a book that included Hitler s promises to the people nor did I completely understand why they went along with the terrible things he did, but I do now I really felt the gradual control shift as Hitler started his programs and recruited the young it was just eerie.
Trudi is sort of a tough cookie and may annoy the reader at times with her fierce independence and stubborn behavior, but don t let that throw you off her trail because you would miss out on one of the most moving pieces of literature out there A truly moving and interesting story with a hint of folklore, I highly recommend this read.
A sensitively imagined portrayal of a small German town in the fateful years between the first and second World Wars narrated from the perspective of an appealing main character who is both of the town in that she is the keeper of their secrets and the source of their gossip, but also other due to her diminutive size, there s a lot to like about this rich and colourful web of life For me personally it has the added attraction of this fictional town being situated just down the road, the locations ones that I know well So why did I find myself skipping over huge chunks of it after a while Well, the writing is plain and straightforward nothing wrong with that, it s clear and lucid, you don t always want obscurity that makes you work hard, but occasionally it does lapse into history teacher modethe long training in obedience to elders, government, and church made it difficult even for those who considered the views of the Nazis dishonourable to give voice to their misgivings And so they kept hushed, yielding to each new indignity while they waited for the Nazis and their ideas to go away, but with every compliance they relinquished of themselves, weakening the texture of the community while the power of the Nazis swelled.
It s almost as if Hegi couldn t quite trust her ability to show us this happening and has to resort every now and then to these kind of generalities to make sure we ve got the message And then of course none of the snippets of songs or references to poems and stories have the appeal of the exotic for me, so that may also explain a little of my lack of enthusiasm for what is, actually, a very well written book It s a very digestible way of learning a lot about German modern history, but maybe I thought in my intellectual arrogance that I knew it all already.
I ve read lots of brilliant books about WWII, but mostly they were plot driven and focused on the protagonists involved Stones from the River is different in that it describes the lives of many of the inhabitants of Burgdorf a small fictional German village from 1915 to 1951 It is beautifully written, but a book you need to immerse yourself in, definitely not a quick easy read I have a much better understanding of the years building up to WWII, how Hitler convinced so many people to support him, and for me most intriguing how people lived with themselves and each other after the war ended.
I think two aspects of the author s writing that I admired most was firstly that she never dramatized anything In this it reminded me of The Diary of a Young Girl, humans can get used to almost anything Secondly, she introduces us to a a big cast of convincing and memorable characters they include the good, the bad and the ugly Each of these individual stories could have filled a book, but together they give us a much better idea and understanding of what happened.
GR recommended this to me because I loved The Poisonwood Bible, and I have to agree that the feel is very similar.
I loved this book from the beginning The anger and passion of Trudi captivated me from beginning to end, and I had a hard time putting this book down I found that I had to concentrate harder on this book due to the number of characters, and with all of the german names This made it much harder to rush through the book, which ultimately should be cherished anyway I loved Trudi s strengths as a story teller, and her understanding of her surroundings that bordered on magical realism Will read again someday when I can spend time on the individual beautiful words, rather than trying to get to the end of a very good story.
From The Highly Acclaimed, Award Winning Author Of Floating In My Mother S Palm Comes A Stunning Novel About Ordinary People Living In Extraordinary TimesTrudi Montag Is A Zwerg A Dwarf Short, Undesirable, Different, The Voice Of Anyone Who Has Ever Tried To Fit In Eventually She Learns That Being Different Is A Secret That All Humans Share From Her Mother Who Flees Into Madness, To Her Friend Georg Whose Parents Pretend He S A Girl, To The Jews Trudy Harbors In Her CellarUrsula Hegi Brings Us A Timeless And Unforgettable Story In Trudi And A Small Town, Weaving Together A Profound Tapestry Of Emotional Power, Humanity, And Truth An abbreviated buddy read review with Violet Fabulous beginning then the barrage of details began sucking the vitality out of it Themes galore.
Historical Fiction, Nazi Regime Germany holocaust atrocities and cruelty towards Jews, small German village town community tales, dwarfism, the main protagonist,Trudi Montag, was born a dwarf Zwerg , female, adding uniqueness , discrimination, outsider feelings, rumors, gossip, coming of age, abandonment, prejudice, jealousy, violence, rage, rejection, friendships, families, love, sex, a pet dog named Seehund, injured war veterans, favorite was Leo Montag, the town librarian , people shunned and harassed, war destruction, deaths births, human failures, triumphs, and hope Memorable parts are definitely memorable,but it needed editing 3.
8 for overall spirit behind the storytelling.