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One Hundred Saturdays: Stella Levi and the Search for a Lost World (2022)

by Michael Frank

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839291,093 (4.21)2
The remarkable story of ninety-nine-year-old Stella Levi whose conversations with the writer Michael Frank over the course of six years bring to life the vibrant world of Jewish Rhodes, the deportation to Auschwitz that extinguished ninety percent of her community, and the resilience and wisdom of the woman who lived to tell the tale. With nearly a century of life behind her, Stella Levi had never before spoken in detail about her past. Then she met Michael Frank. He came to her Greenwich Village apartment one Saturday afternoon to ask her a question about the Juderia, the neighborhood in Rhodes where she'd grown up in a Jewish community that had thrived there for half a millennium. Neither of them could know this was the first of one hundred Saturdays that they would spend in each other's company as Stella traveled back in time to conjure what it felt like to come of age on this luminous, legendary island in the eastern Aegean, which the Italians began governing as an official possession in 1923 and transformed over the next two decades until the Germans seized control and deported the entire Juderia to Auschwitz. Probing and courageous, candid and sly, Stella is a magical modern-day Scheherazade whose stories reveal what it was like to grow up in an extraordinary place in an extraordinary time--and to construct a life after that place has vanished. One Hundred Saturdays is a portrait of one of the last survivors drawn at nearly the last possible moment, as well as an account of a tender and transformative friendship that develops between storyteller and listener as they explore the fundamental mystery of what it means to collect, share, and interpret the deepest truths of a life deeply lived.… (more)
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Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
The format that the writer used to tell this amazing true story is very creative. To see how the relationship evolved and expanded between the writer and subject over time was inspiring. The writer allowed the story to unfold at just the right pace with the subject as she was ready to reveal more and more. I am currently interviewing my 90 year old cousin who lived thru the blitz in London in WWII. I can only hope to achieve the level of depth of story and impact that the author was able to connect with. ( )
  Katyefk | Dec 12, 2022 |
I read a hardcover edition and enjoyed reading a “real” book. I’ve been reading a lot of e-editions. I bring only paper books with me when I’m out and about and I like being able to always have a book with me.

This is a good addition to Holocaust literature. I particularly appreciated Stella’s description of how and why women often fared better than men throughout the ordeal.

My favorite parts though were learning about life on Rhodes before the deportation.

There were parts of the story that took place in NYC that I also found fascinating.

The part of the story that is about the camps was relatively brief but for me offered some details new to me, even though I’ve read many Holocaust books.

I applaud the inclusion of all sorts of memories during the various times and settings and how all sorts of emotions were felt, humor included.

Stella annoyed me when she was cryptic and in interviews instead of answering would say that is for another day, something that occurred a lot but I guess it’s the author I’m irked with because he could have just written what she did actually tell him vs. including what she said she wouldn’t tell him or wouldn’t tell him yet.

Stella has had an interesting life and in many ways was a remarkable girl and is a remarkable woman but I think I might have enjoyed this book more if its focus had not been on only/mostly Stella. If it had been written about the Jews of Rhodes and what had happened to all of them perhaps I’d have found the narrative more compelling. That said, hearing this story from one person’s point of view had its advantages.

“I do believe that as we travel through life we become a different person in every situation, or context, or phase.”

A useful selected bibliography is included in the back of the book.

3-1/2 stars ( )
  Lisa2013 | Nov 6, 2022 |
I know that technically I'm reviewing the book and not Stella's experiences, but it's hard for me to separate the two. I feel as if I'm rating her life. Doesn't quite feel right. There is no way I can read anything on the Holocaust and not wonder how people can be so inhumane. Almost an entire country looked away and let it happen. Maybe a warning we here in the states need to take to heart

Reading about Stella and her family, the Jewish population in Rhodes, the closeness, their lives, was so interesting. Makes what happens afterwards even more heartbreaking, if that's even possible. She didn't want to talk about her life in the camps, but at nearly 100, and due to the authors continuing interest, she eventually does so. She was in many camps, many of which I had never heard. I found a commonality, besides the horrors evidenced, between Stella's experience and those of Frankel and Primo Levy's experiences in camps. At wars end when the Americans were making their way liberating camps, a very I'll Frankel and Levy, lives were saved because they were in the camps infirmary. Stella's was saved because though ill, she was sent away from the infirmary. The next day, all those in the infirmary were killed. Fate or luck if one can even use that word. ( )
  Beamis12 | Sep 25, 2022 |
The remarkable story of ninety-nine-year-old Stella Levi, whose conversations with the writer Michael Frank over the course of six years bring to life the vibrant world of Jewish Rhodes, the deportation to Auschwitz that extinguished ninety percent of her community, and the resilience and wisdom of the woman who lived to tell the tale.
  HandelmanLibraryTINR | Sep 14, 2022 |
Stella Levi is a Holocaust survivor from the island ofRhodes. She is interviewed 100 Saturdays while in her late 90’s telling her story ( )
  MomMom46 | Sep 13, 2022 |
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Epigraph
“The tremendous world I have inside my head . . .”

                             —-KAFKA
Dedication
for

STELLA

of course

and in memory of my grandmothers,

SYLVIA SHAPIRO RAVETCH

and

HARRIET FRANK SR.,

storytellers all
First words
The sea isn’t wine-dark so much as a blue so bottomless and transparent that it hurts to look into it, the way it can hurt to look into another person’s eyes.
Quotations
“There’s an old adage,” I tell her. “I wonder if you’ve heard it. The youngest child is the one who gets to tell the story—the one who gets to have the last word. I think it was Henry James who said something like that.”

“Having the last word,” she says, can be very lonely.”
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The remarkable story of ninety-nine-year-old Stella Levi whose conversations with the writer Michael Frank over the course of six years bring to life the vibrant world of Jewish Rhodes, the deportation to Auschwitz that extinguished ninety percent of her community, and the resilience and wisdom of the woman who lived to tell the tale. With nearly a century of life behind her, Stella Levi had never before spoken in detail about her past. Then she met Michael Frank. He came to her Greenwich Village apartment one Saturday afternoon to ask her a question about the Juderia, the neighborhood in Rhodes where she'd grown up in a Jewish community that had thrived there for half a millennium. Neither of them could know this was the first of one hundred Saturdays that they would spend in each other's company as Stella traveled back in time to conjure what it felt like to come of age on this luminous, legendary island in the eastern Aegean, which the Italians began governing as an official possession in 1923 and transformed over the next two decades until the Germans seized control and deported the entire Juderia to Auschwitz. Probing and courageous, candid and sly, Stella is a magical modern-day Scheherazade whose stories reveal what it was like to grow up in an extraordinary place in an extraordinary time--and to construct a life after that place has vanished. One Hundred Saturdays is a portrait of one of the last survivors drawn at nearly the last possible moment, as well as an account of a tender and transformative friendship that develops between storyteller and listener as they explore the fundamental mystery of what it means to collect, share, and interpret the deepest truths of a life deeply lived.

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