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The Girl from Krakow: A Novel by Alex…

The Girl from Krakow: A Novel

by Alex Rosenberg

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1038117,210 (3.44)5



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The Girl from Krakow: A Novel by Alex Rosenberg; (1 1/2*)

I am very sorry Mr. Rosenberg but I had to 'pearl rule' this book at about the halfway mark. I found it to be a boring & trite story that has been done hundreds of times and done much better. There is so much to choose from during this era that we readers can afford to be a little when it comes to time & place. My reading time is just too valuable to stick with something I cannot get into. But I do hope that others out there appreciated it for the readers here on L/T are nothing if not diverse.

My thanks to Amazon Prime for loaning me this title. ( )
  rainpebble | Oct 30, 2016 |
I really feel like there is a good story in here... Somewhere. But it's definitely not on the page.

My first error with this book came with my misunderstanding that it was fiction as opposed to non-fiction. Totally my fault, but I wouldn't have requested it had I realized that. I stay away from fiction around this time period/subject matter for a lot of reasons that I won't go into.

The dialogue was so wooden and unrealistic. This isn't helped by the esoteric conversations all of these philosophy minors college dropouts, factory workers, and doctors keep having. I don't know much about political philosophy of the times, and I didn't appreciate this narrative making me feel like I would need to take a college level course on the subject to figure out the undertones here. Nothing was expanded upon to help the reader along, instead all these conversations just felt like word vomit on the page.

The plot was just a chore to trudge through. I don't intimately know what happened in Poland after they were invaded, which made a lot of the events fly over my head. Even when the holocaust was beginning to be touched on it was hard for me to tell because of how blandly and matter-of-factly they described what was going on. There was no emotion, only facts.

I'm not giving this book the (1) star that it was to me because I'm certain that someone with more knowledge and interest in the time period/place/events would be interested in reading it. For me though I was just bored and disconnected the entire way through from all of the characters, even when terrible things were happening.

Copy courtesy of Lake Union Publishing, via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. ( )
  GoldenDarter | Sep 15, 2016 |
"The Girl From Krakow" is Rita Feuerstahl, a Jew who can pass for "Aryan."  She ultimately does just that, with false papers turning her into Margarita Truschenko, an ethnic German (Volks-Deutsche) from Ukraine. The book covers the period from 1935 through 1947.  Rita's story is set mostly in Poland and Germany, and ultimately in Austria.

The other main character in the book is Rita's extramarital lover, another Jew named Tadeusz Sommermann, a gynecologist.  Besides Poland and Austria, he spends time in France, Spain (during the Civil War there, where he becomes Guillermo Romero), and Russia.  Thus the author pretty well has Europe covered for this time period, as well as various scenarios for the era - the military, the Jewish ghetto, factory work, post-war United Nations work, etc.

Rita is not a particularly sympathetic character.  I don't mind sex in books, and I don't see anything wrong with a character being sexually promiscuous and adventurous (besides Tadeusz, she is sexually involved with her physician husband, later a gay man who shares her room in the Jewish ghetto, and even later a woman).  However, it all felt somewhat gratuitous in this book.  It felt like the author (who is male) felt he needed all this to spice up the story.

The big problem I have with this book is that author Alex Rosenberg is a philosophy professor, and the book, his first novel, felt pedantic at times, with the characters discussing atheism and nihilism and other such topics.  It seemed like the author wanted to get his points across at the expense of character development, for all the book's characters seemed pretty shallow.

I also did not find it particularly realistic that Rita would carry two large, heavy volumes of Darwin's works with her everywhere she went (despite the risks), nor the "secret" her gay roommate told her that supposedly put her life at risk.

It didn't help that audiobook narrator Michael Page was awful.  His British accent was especially annoying with his rather nasal voice, and his interpretations of the female characters in the book were grating.  He did a fine job with male-only voices in The Watch That Ends the Night, but he should stay away from audiobooks where he will be voicing female characters.

While I learned a lot and am glad I read the book, it won't be for everyone, and I will not be re-reading it.  I wish I hadn't wasted an Audible credit (albeit a free one) to purchase it.

© Amanda Pape - 2016

[This electronic audiobook was purchased from Audible with a free credit. This review also appears on Bookin' It.] ( )
1 vote riofriotex | Jun 27, 2016 |
3.5 Stars. Overall this was an enjoyable read (if you can use these words with the subject matter at hand), but at one or two points you kept thinking get on with it. It covers the period from the mid to late thirties and right through the war, as well as taking in some of the Spanish Civil War. The depravity of the times comes through strongly in this book, especially related to the ghettos and the holocaust - even worse was the way people sold out their fellow man (including people of the same faith). Overall I am very pleased to have read it. ( )
  Andrew-theQM | Jun 20, 2016 |
This novel had me confused; the historical fiction part was obvious but it was erotica also. Parts of the novel did remind me of Winds of War and the horrific acts of the Nazis. The Jewish population, the homosexual population, the Gypsy population and everyone not Blue eyes and Blonde hairs were targets for their hate.

The book does have happy ending. ( )
  Gingersnap000 | May 31, 2016 |
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