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Skeletons at the Feast by Chris Bohjalian
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Skeletons at the Feast (2008)

by Chris Bohjalian

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1,250626,338 (3.97)86
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Showing 1-5 of 62 (next | show all)
Excellent audio production. Nothing is glossed over - the descriptions of the violence perpetrated are graphic and painful. The surprise ending seemed a little tacked on, but fine just the same. Still hard to imagine how it was possible. ( )
  MaureenCean | Feb 2, 2016 |
In the last waning days of World War II, Germany was in chaos. Besieged on western front by the Americans and the British and on the eastern front by the Russians, the German people were forced to flee their homes. Cold, hungry, and pushed beyond exhaustion they struggled to keep ahead of the Russian front though and endless winter. What they faced if caught by the Russians, no matter that most were women and young children, was enough for many to craft suicide plans while others would just give up, long beyond caring.

Skeletons at the Feast weaves together four disparate stories during this tragic and violent time in history; the Emmerich family, a prosperous Prussian family forced to abandon their home; Callum, a Scottish POW who had been sent to help work the Emmerich's sugar-beat farm and apple orchards; Uri Singer, a Jewish man who through courage and daring escaped a train headed towards certain death and for two years successfully disguised himself as a Nazi; and Cecile a French Jewess struggling to survive German work camps and forced marches.

This is a bleak and unrelenting portrayal of the Holocaust told through a completely unique perspective. Most of the story is viewed through the eyes of Anna Emmerich, eighteen years old and having lived her whole life in a remote corner of Germany that had for most of her life been ceded to Poland. It is unusual that Bohjalian chose to tell the story through the eyes of a German girl as so often novels regarding this horrific time in history are told through those who suffered the most. Yet the Jews, the Gypsies, and their fellow Nazi victims were not the only people to suffer. The privatizations suffered by Germany's own people as they fled in advance of the Russian advance is an often overlooked piece of history. Their treatment was brutal and no quarter was given for being a civilian, a woman, or a child. The author does not hold back; there are many violent and bloody depictions of rape and murder throughout the novel. It was often difficult to read. Yet none of these scenes felt gratuitous. It was an honest account of what really happened. It serves as a reminder of the cruelty that we humans are capable of, no matter on which side we fight. The epilogue was the single bright source of hope at the end of the novel, a welcome relief after the bleakness of the previous 350 pages. This novel is not for the faint of heart, but it is a must read for any World War II buff. ( )
  Mootastic1 | Jan 15, 2016 |
An exceptional Holocaust audiobook that kept me involved over the month that I listened to it - The narrator was excellent with accents and dialects and brought each character to life. There were moments that this book was almost too painful to listen to, but the storyline and the knowledge that WWII was coming to an end kept me going.

This is the story of an unlikely group of travelers - a mother, daughter and young son with family in the German army were escaping the Russian invasion - they traveled with a Scottish prisoner of war who they had taken in, and eventually met up with a Jewish man who had escaped from a cattle car on the way to a concentration camp, and wore the uniform o a Nazi officer who he had killed -

The story was engrossing, characters were realistic, and the writing was poetic at times - this was definitely my favorite of Chris Bohjalian's books. ( )
  njinthesun | Sep 25, 2015 |
I enjoyed this book a lot more than I thought I would. This book takes place during World War II and tells the story of a German aristocrat family fleeing their home in the final days of the war. They are accompanied by a Scottish POW and a Jewish man masquerading as a German soldier. It gave an interesting perspective of a German family beginning to see through the propaganda of the Nazi regime and trying to come to terms with what their country has done during the war. The novel is set when the Russians are beginning to advance on Eastern Germany and commiting many atrocities against German civilians. There are a lot of fairly graphic scences of torture and brutality and much of the novel was really sad to read, but it really gave an interesting historical depiction of the war. ( )
  klburnside | Aug 11, 2015 |
I had to keep reading sentences over again because they were so freakin long! Because of that, I focused on his writing style and not the story. I'm sure it's a great story but I can't get past the run on sentences - too much work!!!
There was a passage I found very disturbing that stayed with me. I know there were many horrors of WW2, but it was a little too much for me. ( )
  jenngv | Jun 25, 2015 |
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Epigraph
The past is never dead. It's not even past. - William Faulkner
Dedication
For Stephen Kiernan, Adam Turteltaub, and Dana Yeaton
And for Victoria, who reads every word
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The girl - a young woman, really, eighteen, hair the color of corn silk - had been hearing the murmur of artillery fire for two days now.
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Book description
In January 1945, in the waning months of World War II, a small group of people begin the longest journey of their lives: an attempt to cross the remnants of the Third Reich, from the Russian front to the Rhine if necessary, to reach the British and American lines.

Among the group is eighteen-year-old Anna Emmerich, the daughter of Prussian aristocrats. There is her lover, Callum Finella, a twenty-year-old Scottish prisoner of war who was brought from the stalag to her family's farm as forced labor. And there is a twenty-six-year-old Wehrmacht corporal, who the pair know as Manfred-who is, in reality, Uri Singer, a Jew from Germany who managed to escape a train bound for Auschwitz. As they work their way west, they encounter a countryside ravaged by war. Their flight will test both Anna's and Callum's love, as well as their friendship with Manfred-assuming any of them even survive. Perhaps not since "The English Patient" has a novel so deftly captured both the power and poignancy of romance and the terror and tragedy of war. Skillfully portraying the flesh and blood of history, Chris Bohjalian has crafted a rich tapestry that puts a face on one of the twentieth centrury's greatest tragedies-while creating, perhaps, a masterpiece that will haunt readers for generations.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0307394964, Paperback)

A masterful love story set against a backdrop of epic history and unforgettable courage

In the waning months of World War II, a small group of people begin the longest journey of their lives.

At the center is eighteen-year-old Anna, the daughter of Prussian aristocrats, and her first love, a twenty-year-old Scottish prisoner of war named Callum. With his boyish good looks and his dedication to her family, he has captured Anna’s heart. But he is the enemy, and their love must remain a closely guarded secret. Only Manfred, a twenty-six-year-old Wehrmacht corporal, knows the truth. And Manfred, who is not what he seems to be, is reluctantly taken with Anna, just as she finds herself drawn uncomfortably to him.

As these unlikely allies work their way west, their flight will test both Anna’s and Callum’s love, as well as their friendship with Manfred–and will forever bind the young trio together.


Includes special bonus material: Chris Bohjalian responds to questions from book groups and readers

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:34 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

As Hitler's Third Reich crumbles, an aristocratic Prussian woman and her child flee west away from the approaching Russian army. Eventually they form an unlikely alliance with a Jewish man escaping from the concentration camps.

» see all 6 descriptions

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