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Old Books, Rare Friends: Two Literary…
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Old Books, Rare Friends: Two Literary Sleuths And Their Shared Passion (1997)

by Leona Rostenberg (Author), Madeleine B. Stern (Author)

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Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
A biography of two real characters! I would never have imagined that I would find a book about two old ladies who I had never heard of so unputdownable. I enjoyed this book about books so much that I started searching out the author's other books and found not all of them so well written or enjoyable as this one. I couldn't even slog through the first chapter of [b:The Life of Margaret Fuller: A Revised, Second Edition|2330119|The Life of Margaret Fuller A Revised, Second Edition (Contributions in Women's Studies)|Madeleine B. Stern|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1266736738s/2330119.jpg|2336683]. ( )
  R0BIN | Apr 27, 2013 |
A biography of two real characters! I would never have imagined that I would find a book about two old ladies who I had never heard of so unputdownable. I enjoyed this book about books so much that I started searching out the author's other books and found not all of them so well written or enjoyable as this one. I couldn't even slog through the first chapter of [b:The Life of Margaret Fuller: A Revised, Second Edition|2330119|The Life of Margaret Fuller A Revised, Second Edition (Contributions in Women's Studies)|Madeleine B. Stern|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1266736738s/2330119.jpg|2336683]. ( )
  R0BIN | Apr 27, 2013 |
This was a somewhat dry but sweet look at a lasting platonic (as both ladies point out!) friendship based on their love of books and scholarly pursuits. Madeleine and Leona take turns telling their story about their life in books.

Madeleine Stern was a teacher and author who loved doing research for the biographies she wrote. She had heard some rumors about Louisa May Alcott when she was working on a book about her. With a little detective work, she discovered that Alcott followed in the footsteps of her heroine Jo March and wrote some "blood and thunder" tales that helped pay the bills. This was my favorite part of the book as the mystery unfolded: "...Louisa May Alcott had indeed produced a corpus of deviational narratives. She might have hidden the details of her double literary life, but she had scattered through her letters and her journals and even in Little Women itself a plethora of clues. I needed to don my deerstalker, take up my magnifying glass, and embark on the hunt." (117)

Leona Rostenberg had her own literary adventure when she discovered the serialized installments of Charles Dickens' Master Humphrey's Clock scattered around a barn when she was looking for books to sell in her fledgling rare books business. She bought these mouse-chewed papers for sixty cents at the auction she was attending.

Madeleine was growing tired of teaching and decided to join her best friend in the antiquarian book store. They spent much of their time traveling around to find books, including a poignant journey to post-war Europe. They thrived in each other's company pursuing their passion for books. This was an enlightening joint autobiography and one that most bibliophiles would enjoy reading. ( )
1 vote Donna828 | Jul 31, 2012 |
Two members of the Greatest Generation recall their lives with books and each other. Leona Rostenberg and Madeline Stern seem to have embodied the idea of the Antiquarian book dealer. Knowledgeable, intensely inquisitive, and in love with books not for their investment value but for their significance to history and society, both women write about their academic and book discoveries with a contagious sort of excitement. You can tell as you read that these women loved their jobs, and what's not to love about discovering a goldmine of pseudonymous wild tales from the author of Little Women, or coming across one of the earliest volumes of Americana to ever exist in a British catalog for a fraction of its value?

The world as it was when Rostenberg and Stern were hitting eureka after eureka in the postwar attics of Europe are long gone, but as long as there are people like Leona Rostenberg and Madeline Stern in the world, the love of books and discovery will never die. ( )
2 vote bokai | Apr 3, 2010 |
As a novice book collector myself (modern first editions; frowned upon by these authors as "too easy" to collect), I was excited to receive and read this book. It is an elegant story of 2 women who lived outside of and beyond the expectations of upper middle class young women in the 1930's and beyond. They defied convention and became highly educated women and chose a life of book writing, collecting and selling, along with "literary sleuthing" to make connections between antiquarian books and moments and key figures in history. Thanks to their sleuthing we also know much more about Louisa May Alcott's "scandalous" stories published anonymously or pseudonomously.

I found most of the book to be enjoyable but did skim the final chapters that were highly detailed descriptions of books bought and sold. Still quite an enjoyable book. ( )
  Lcwilson45 | Feb 11, 2010 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Rostenberg, LeonaAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Stern, Madeleine B.Authormain authorall editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
A friend may well be reckoned the masterpiece of Nature.---Ralph Waldo Emerson
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To Madeleine with love and gratitude from Leona / To Leona with gratitude and love from Madeleine
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Early one morning in September 1995, the telephone rang.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0385485158, Paperback)

Like 84, Charing Cross Road, Leona Rostenberg and Madeleine Stern's charming bibliocentric memoir is as much about relationships as it is about books. Charing Cross chronicled the decades-long epistolary friendship between American book lover Helene Hanff and Frank Doel, the equally devoted British bookseller in the London shop from whom she bought many of her treasures. Rostenberg and Stern's book once again proves how a passion for great literature can make for fast friends. And in their case, these two octogenarians occupy the same geographical space, sharing both their professional and private lives.

In their introduction, Rostenberg and Stern write: "Several readers inferred ... that our relationship was a Lesbian one. This was a misconception. The 'deep, deep love' that existed and exists between us ... has no bearing upon sex." With that out of the way early on, the two recount the stories of their lives in alternating sections. And oh, what lives they've had! From identifying some of Louisa May Alcott's previously anonymous early writings to traveling the world in search of rare volumes and pamphlets, they have done and seen it all. Successful antiquarian book dealers Rostenberg and Stern undoubtedly are, but as this memoir makes clear, their greatest accomplishment just might be that rarer commodity of friendship that lasts a lifetime. --Alix Wilber

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:58:11 -0400)

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