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A Bookshop in Berlin

The Rediscovered Memoir of One Woman's Harrowing Escape from the Nazis

Francoise Frenkel Patrick Modiano



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Atria Books
04 August 2020
A PEOPLE BOOK OF THE WEEK WINNER OF THE JQ-WINGATE LITERARY PRIZE A haunting tribute to survivors and those lost forever--and a reminder, in our own troubled era, never to forget. --People An exceptional (The Wall Street Journal) and poignant (The New York Times) book in the tradition of rediscovered works like Suite Francaise and The Nazi Officer's Wife, the powerful memoir of a fearless Jewish bookseller on a harrowing fight for survival across Nazi-occupied Europe.

In 1921, Francoise Frenkel--a Jewish woman from Poland--fulfills a dream. She opens La Maison du Livre, Berlin's first French bookshop, attracting artists and diplomats, celebrities and poets. The shop becomes a haven for intellectual exchange as Nazi ideology begins to poison the culturally rich city. In 1935, the scene continues to darken. First come the new bureaucratic hurdles, followed by frequent police visits and book confiscations.

Francoise's dream finally shatters on Kristallnacht in November 1938, as hundreds of Jewish shops and businesses are destroyed. La Maison du Livre is miraculously spared, but fear of persecution eventually forces Francoise on a desperate, lonely flight to Paris. When the city is bombed, she seeks refuge across southern France, witnessing countless horrors: children torn from their parents, mothers throwing themselves under buses. Secreted away from one safe house to the next, Francoise survives at the heroic hands of strangers risking their lives to protect her.

Published quietly in 1945, then rediscovered nearly sixty years later in an attic, A Bookshop in Berlin is a remarkable story of survival and resilience, of human cruelty and human spirit. In the tradition of Suite Francaise and The Nazi Officer's Wife, this book is the tale of a fearless woman whose lust for life and literature refuses to leave her, even in her darkest hours.
By:   Francoise Frenkel
Preface by:   Patrick Modiano
Imprint:   Atria Books
Dimensions:   Height: 211mm,  Width: 137mm,  Spine: 20mm
Weight:   272g
ISBN:   9781501199851
ISBN 10:   1501199854
Pages:   288
Publication Date:   04 August 2020
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Francoise Frenkel was born in Poland in 1889. Fulfilling a lifelong dream, she opened the first French-language bookshop in Berlin with her husband. In the summer of 1939, with war looming, Frenkel fled to Paris. She sought refuge across occupied France for the next several years until finally escaping across the border to Switzerland, where she wrote a memoir documenting her refugee experience. Her memoir, originally published in 1945 as Rien ou poser sa tete (No Place to Lay One's Head), was rediscovered in an attic in southern France in 2010 and republished in the original French as well as in a dozen other languages. This is its first publication in the United States. Frenkel died in Nice in 1975.

Reviews for A Bookshop in Berlin: The Rediscovered Memoir of One Woman's Harrowing Escape from the Nazis

Select Praise from the UK An astonishing memoir . . . as gripping as any thriller. --The Sunday Times A beautiful and important book...shocking yet delicate prose, cruelty and beauty combined in just over 250 pages. --The Independent [Frenkel] spins, almost out of nothingness, a crucial moment in time that ought to suspend itself over the consciences of her readers, her fellow men, vitally, critically and irrevocably. We are given only hints of a past, nothing of a future, a highly selective panorama of a present. Yet what we hold in our hands, as we hold this little volume, can be said to be pure gold. --Bookanista I cried and still couldn't put it down. --Lisa Appignanesi, award-winning author of Losing the Dead and Mad, Bad, and Sad A lost classic . . . Frenkel's tale and prose is utterly compelling, at once painful and exquisite. --Philippe Sands, author of East West Street Remarkable . . . A French equivalent to the anonymous A Woman in Berlin, and a non-fiction counterpoint to Nemirovsky's Suite Francaise. . . [A book that] everyone should hold in their hands. --Daily Telegraph (five stars) The book is not only a moving memoir but also an intriguing historical document, thanks not least to Frenkel's emphasis on the often unsolicited help she received from ordinary French people. --Natasha Lehrer, The Times Literary Supplement Riveting. . . . Frenkel, who died in 1975, writes that it is 'the duty of those who have survived to bear witness to ensure the dead are not forgotten.' Frenkel's remarkable story of resilience and survival does just that, and will truly resonate with readers. --Publishers Weekly Insightful, sympathetic, suspenseful, and eventually triumphant, this memoir is a worthy addition to the WWII canon. --Booklist (starred review) Detailed, emotional, and careful. . . . A compelling account of crushing oppression, those who sought to flee it, and those who, at great risk, offered help. --Kirkus Reviews (starred) Like a bookstore, Frenkel's memoir contains not one story, but many. There is, of course, her own odyssey to safety--but there's also the heroic tale of M. and Mme. Marius, Frenkel's friends and saviors; the comedy of the glamourous refugee who hoodwinked the Germans into saving her son; the tragedy of the young man accused of murdering his wife; the melodrama of hardened prison guards; and ultimately, a story of liberation and redemption. --BookPage

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