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Aaron's Leap by Magdaléna Platzová

Aaron's Leap

by Magdaléna Platzová

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235694,663 (4)1
"Based on the real-life story of Bauhaus artist Friedl Dicker-Brandeis, Aaron's Leap is framed by the lens of a twenty first-century Israeli film crew delving into the extraordinary life of a woman who taught art to children in the Nazi transport camp of Terezin and died in Auschwitz. Aided by the granddaughter of one of the artist's pupils, the filmmakers begin to uncover buried secrets from a time when personal and artistic decisions became matters of life-and-death. Spanning a century of Central European history, the novel evokes the founding impulses, theories, and personalities of the European Modernist movement (with characters modeled after Oskar Kokoschka, Alma Mahler and Franz Werfel) and shows what it takes to grapple with a troubled history, "leap" into the unknown, and dare to be oneself."--… (more)



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Showing 5 of 5
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
In Aaron's Leap, Magdalena Platzova writes the story of Berta Altman. She is an artist who ultimately dies because of the Holocaust.
This books offers a unique view of the world of artists in Wartime Europe (World Wars I and II).
This book is quite quotable. The author gives a lot of insight into what the characters found valuable-what enriched their lives. ( )
  LynnGW | Feb 15, 2014 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Aaron’s Leap encompasses the Bauhaus school and movement, ideology, and aesthetics during the antebellum and Holocaust eras. Narrated during the 21st century, and initiated by an Israeli film crews’ study of the protagonist’s life, it has all the elements for a great novel. It promises to seize the reader emotionally, philosophically, and morally. Ironically, this fundamental factor – emotion - is missing. It is not entirely absent, in that the facts automatically guide your ethos intellectually. Yet, Platzova’s writing style does not lend itself to these raw, unprotected senses; the type you would expect from a novel of this complexity.

I am not enamored by the author’s narrative. I prefer more depth in my reading. Aaron’s Leap lacks the narrative weight I favor. I have considered if some of my stylistic issues have more to do with the translation. However, the author’s ending confirmed my overall feeling. The novel was average, and the ending was kitschy. This does not mean it is a horrible novel; it simply did not reach its potential.

My last thought regarding Platzova’s story: I was dispirited by how poorly Bauhaus ideals were depicted – as if all were positively ridiculous. The Bauhaus greatly affected modern day art, and has housed some of the best artists worldwide. In any movement there are extremists, and they were definitely a part of the Bauhaus ideology in its early development. Its attendants, devoted to creating a new style of art, fished all over the spectrum to find its medium. In the end, they did accomplish their major goals, and greatly contributed to contemporary art. The schools continued existence is testament to its significance in the art world. ( )
  BALE | Feb 5, 2014 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I received this in a early reviewers giveaway. In general I liked the book-easy to read and beautifully written. My one problem was that I felt the author tried to do to much in too small a space. She had a number of story lines going and it would have been better if she had focused on fewer of them but fleshed them out more. That is the only reason it didn't get 5 stars. ( )
  elizabeth9592 | Feb 3, 2014 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Aaron's Leap is a novel based on a real woman Friedl Dicker-Brandeis, born before WW1 who taught art to children in the concentration camps and died herself. Magdalena Platzova has woven a story around the fictional Frieddl - the artist Berta Altmann and a friend Kristyna. The story goes back and forth from the past to the present as her old friend talks about Berta to a television crew and also daydreams about their past. After Kristyna dies of old age her granddaughter and son find papers that linked them even closer to Berta.
The book has been translated from Czech. It was interesting, I liked learning about the art movement in Germany-Austria-Czechoslovakia.
  marilynsantiago | Jan 28, 2014 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Aaron's Leap is an historical fiction based on the life of artist Friedl Dicker-Brandeisov, who was an acclaimed artist of the early 20th century. It is written by Czech writer, Magdalena Platzova, and this is her first book translated to the English language. Initially it was difficult to follow. Part stream of conscientiousness, part romantic memory, part factual hard edged fact. The story weaves the lives of four individuals with different lives, in different generations, all "looking" for that situation in life that is "happiness".

The protagonist, Berta (Friedl) was born and raised in pre-WW! Vienna, where her sensibilities were formed. She was a non-practicing Jew, from a non-practicing family. Religion played little part in her life choices. She was born an artist and early in her life joined into expressionist movement - became a core member of art colonies and fell into a vague esoteric form of art lead by a guru who appears throughout the story at key points where her life take turns. He is her art professor, he becomes self-absorbed leading her and a small group of like minded people towards the purity of communism, he professes non-violence until going to the Russian front and finding that non-violence is not the answer so becomes very pro-active in the underground movement in France to stop the fascism which was moving through the European continent. Each time he shows there is a change in Berta's direction. Throughout the story she is first and foremost an artist - paint, sketch, textile, mixed media, on and on. But her focus changes.

We move with her through her loves and sorrows. We see a change in Europe through her eyes as time moves from her youth and innocence of WWI into the waning days of WWII and her eventual death at Auschwitz. In the story we find where she finally finds true happiness and perhaps a reason. The story is told through her diaries which were kept by a friend she met after leaving Austria, to escape the Nazi's, becoming a refugee in Czechoslovakia, the voice of that friend, and the actions of the friend's granddaughter and a man she met during the filming of a documentary about Berta/Friedl for which the granddaughter acted as a translator. The meaning of the book's title, Aaron's Leap, comes from this relationship.

As initially noted, this was not the easiest book to get into due to the nature of the flow - stream of consciousness is very difficult to follow let alone understand the point of. By the end of the second chapter, though, it was clear what the thrust of the story was. As it progressed I was truly pulled in. Also, I enjoyed the slight difference in cadence from what I have come to expect in reading. I hope more of her work is translated as well and many more writers which must be in the former "Eastern Block" of which we Westerners have not been privy! ( )
  PallanDavid | Jan 24, 2014 |
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