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WINNER OF THE JQ–WINGATE LITERARY PRIZE “A beautiful and important book” (The Independent) in the tradition of rediscovered works like Suite Française and The Nazi Officer’s Wife, the prize-winning memoir of a fearless Jewish bookseller on a harrowing fight for survival across Nazi-occupied Europe. In 1921, Françoise Frenkel—a Jewish woman from Poland—fulfills a dream. She WINNER OF THE JQ–WINGATE LITERARY PRIZE “A beautiful and important book” (The Independent) in the tradition of rediscovered works like Suite Française and The Nazi Officer’s Wife, the prize-winning memoir of a fearless Jewish bookseller on a harrowing fight for survival across Nazi-occupied Europe. In 1921, Françoise 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. Françoise’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 Françoise 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, Françoise 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 Française 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.


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WINNER OF THE JQ–WINGATE LITERARY PRIZE “A beautiful and important book” (The Independent) in the tradition of rediscovered works like Suite Française and The Nazi Officer’s Wife, the prize-winning memoir of a fearless Jewish bookseller on a harrowing fight for survival across Nazi-occupied Europe. In 1921, Françoise Frenkel—a Jewish woman from Poland—fulfills a dream. She WINNER OF THE JQ–WINGATE LITERARY PRIZE “A beautiful and important book” (The Independent) in the tradition of rediscovered works like Suite Française and The Nazi Officer’s Wife, the prize-winning memoir of a fearless Jewish bookseller on a harrowing fight for survival across Nazi-occupied Europe. In 1921, Françoise 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. Françoise’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 Françoise 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, Françoise 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 Française 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.

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

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader

    This autobiography/memoir was recently rediscovered. It is a treasure and so incredibly powerful. In the 1920s, Francoise Frenkel is a Jewish woman born in Poland and now living in Berlin. She opens a French bookshop, Berlin’s first of its kind. It’s not just any bookshop, though. Intellectuals meet here until the Nazis begin to gain more control. Then come the rules and laws, more police visits to the shop, and finally, books are taken away. In 1938, Kristallnacht happens. Hundreds of Jewish busi This autobiography/memoir was recently rediscovered. It is a treasure and so incredibly powerful. In the 1920s, Francoise Frenkel is a Jewish woman born in Poland and now living in Berlin. She opens a French bookshop, Berlin’s first of its kind. It’s not just any bookshop, though. Intellectuals meet here until the Nazis begin to gain more control. Then come the rules and laws, more police visits to the shop, and finally, books are taken away. In 1938, Kristallnacht happens. Hundreds of Jewish businesses are destroyed, though La Maison du Livre is not. Francoise is now scared and flees to Paris. Then, Paris is bombed, and she travels to southern France where she must move from house to house to stay safe. A Bookshop Berlin was published in 1945 without much attention. It was recently rediscovered in an attic. Francoise is a woman after many of our own hearts. She treasures books, even in her darkest of days. She is formidable and inspiring in how she handles all that is thrown at her. Her words are powerful, and I’m so grateful she told her story. A Bookshop in Berlin is a treasure, and one I’m ecstatic to own to reference as a reminder to never lose hope and to always believe in the power of good over evil. I received a complimentary copy from the publisher. Many of my reviews can also be found on my blog: www.jennifertarheelreader.com and instagram: www.instagram.com/tarheelreader

  2. 4 out of 5

    Fran

    BBC Radio 4-Book of the Week "No Place to Lay One's Head" by Francoise Frenkel This is a review of a BBC Radio Broadcast. This wartime memoir was published in 1945. Rediscovered in a flea market in Nice in 2010, we get to travel with Francoise Frenkel on her quest to escape persecution and travel to safety. Polish born Francoise, of Jewish descent, was educated in France. She loved books, gently caring for them. In 1921, she opened a French bookstore in Berlin. The bookstore was frequented by women, BBC Radio 4-Book of the Week "No Place to Lay One's Head" by Francoise Frenkel This is a review of a BBC Radio Broadcast. This wartime memoir was published in 1945. Rediscovered in a flea market in Nice in 2010, we get to travel with Francoise Frenkel on her quest to escape persecution and travel to safety. Polish born Francoise, of Jewish descent, was educated in France. She loved books, gently caring for them. In 1921, she opened a French bookstore in Berlin. The bookstore was frequented by women, foreigners, as well as the German Elite. For almost 2o years, she lived her dream. People came to listen to French readings, plays and poetry. Politics were not discussed in the bookstore. Starting in 1938, windows were smashed and businesses were set afire during Kristallnacht. Francoise was advised to go back to Paris and leave her treasured books and bookstore behind. Paris, however, was unsafe. Francoise experienced both the cruel harshness of war as well as the kindness of strangers. By publishing "No Place to Lay One's Head", Pushkin Press has enabled readers to view Francoise's determination to find safe haven after leaving behind a thriving bookstore and the camaraderie of people from all walks of life.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Anne

    “I don’t know exactly when I first felt the calling to be a bookseller. As a very young girl, I could spend hours leafing through a picture book or a large illustrated tome. My favorite presents were books.… For my sixteenth birthday, my parents allowed me to order my own bookcase.” These are the words of Francoise Frenkel, a Jewish woman born in Poland, who opened a French bookshop in Berlin prior to WW11 and then survived a harrowing journey of escape to Switzerland. This short memoir, written “I don’t know exactly when I first felt the calling to be a bookseller. As a very young girl, I could spend hours leafing through a picture book or a large illustrated tome. My favorite presents were books.… For my sixteenth birthday, my parents allowed me to order my own bookcase.” These are the words of Francoise Frenkel, a Jewish woman born in Poland, who opened a French bookshop in Berlin prior to WW11 and then survived a harrowing journey of escape to Switzerland. This short memoir, written immediately following her arrival in Switzerland, chronicles her life before and after the Nazis rose in Germany and invaded France. Frenkel’s suspense-filled saga had me enthralled from the first page. Originally published in 1945, it was rediscovered in Nice in 2010 (original title: No Place To Lay One’s Head), and republished in France in 2015. The first chapters tell the story of Francoise’ life pre-WWII and her eventual opening of a French Bookstore in Berlin, La Maison du Livre. Francoise was a Francophile who loved French books as much as she loved sharing books with her customers: “Over time I grew to know my bookish clientele. I would try to fathom their desires, understand their tastes, their beliefs and their leanings…after observing the way a book was held, almost tenderly, the way pages were delicately turned and reverently read or hastily and thoughtlessly leafed through, I came to be able to see into a character, a spirit, a state of mind. I would place the book I considered appropriate down close to a reader – discretely…so they could not feel it had been suggested to them.... I started to grow fond of my customers. When they left the shop...I wondered about the impact the book they had taken would have on them; then, I would impatiently await their return to hear their thoughts.” The book shop quickly became a place of cultural meetings, attracting famous artists, writers and poets. Among the visitors to Françoise’s bookshop were Claude Anet, Madame Colette, Andre Gide, Duhamel and others. Francoise stayed in Berlin as long as should could (18 years) but it eventually became too dangerous for a Jewess to stay in Germany. Francoise reluctantly packed up her shop and fled to France. The rest of this memoir is Francoise’s compelling account of ruthless oppression in occupied France; those, along with Francoise, who fled and those who, at great risk to themselves, offered help. In almost constant flight or hiding, Francoise rarely rested for long in one place before it became unsafe. On one flight to yet another town with others who shared her plight Francoise doesn’t understand the inhuman behavior she witnesses of the French police whom she always trusted: “We’re hunting humans now” is the reply to Francoise question of a passerby of why men, women and children were being shoved into transport trucks by gendarmes in Nice. Not all French people were hunting Jews. We meet many people along the way who put their lives at risk to house Francoise and to help her find safe passage to Switzerland. We observe, through Francoise' writing the despair, fear, and exhaustion that she and other refugees lived with during these times. Francoise drew a picture of occupied France with such clarity that I could almost imagine I was there. Her descriptions of what she saw and experienced allowed me to see what she saw and to feel what she felt throughout her journey. I delighted with her in the opening of her French bookstore in Berlin, in the pleasure she had in owning this bookstore and was saddened when she had to close it. And I was with her every step of the way as she moved from one refuge to another and all that occurred until her miraculous escape into Switzerland. To read about her crossing the border is reason enough to read this memoir. It is not something I will soon forget. The book comes with a preface by Patrick Modiano with nearly 30 pages of pictures, photocopies, and translations of documents. Modiano writes in the preface to the book “what makes this book unique is that we cannot precisely identify its author”. That is not entirely true. Some of you may remember A Woman in Berlin: Eight Weeks in the Conquered City: A Diary by Anonymous. This memoir was also published in 2006 after the serendipitous finding of an unknown German woman's daily record of the Russian invasion of Berlin. I included quotations about the author's relationship with and love of books for my GR friends who can easily relate, but be forewarned, the bookish parts, as lovely as they are, take up only a minority of this memoir. Recommended for lovers of WWII memoirs and thrillers.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth of Silver's Reviews

    Françoise Frenkel always loved books, libraries, and especially bookstores. Her dream was to open a bookstore, but would her dream about opening a French bookstore in Berlin in 1920 be a good idea? She was successful until 1935 when the police started showing up and confiscating books from her shelves and newspapers because they had been blacklisted. Besides scrutinizing her books, they questioned her travels. This was just the beginning of her hardships and ordeals. A BOOKSHOP IN BERLIN tells the s Françoise Frenkel always loved books, libraries, and especially bookstores. Her dream was to open a bookstore, but would her dream about opening a French bookstore in Berlin in 1920 be a good idea? She was successful until 1935 when the police started showing up and confiscating books from her shelves and newspapers because they had been blacklisted. Besides scrutinizing her books, they questioned her travels. This was just the beginning of her hardships and ordeals. A BOOKSHOP IN BERLIN tells the story of Francoise Frenkel's life and her love of books, her bookshop, and France. We follow her as she lives through occupied France and endures what the European people had to deal with. Unthinkable, unpleasant misery and situations plagued her and all people during this time. A BOOKSHOP IN BERLIN is a treasure for historical fiction fans as well as book lovers. I normally do not read memoirs, but A BOOKSHOP IN BERLIN is very well done and educational. You were easily put into Francoise’s situations and her emotions were yours. 5/5 This book was given to me by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Bettie

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b09pkyg7 Description: Francoise Frenkel's real life account of flight from Berlin on the 'night of broken glass', is abridged in five parts by Katrin Williams and translated by Stephanie Smee. The author had a thriving bookshop in Berlin, selling French editions, newspapers and magazines. Society types and celebrities would drop by to browse, buy and socialise. Then 1935 heralded a dark dawn.. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b09pkyg7 Description: Francoise Frenkel's real life account of flight from Berlin on the 'night of broken glass', is abridged in five parts by Katrin Williams and translated by Stephanie Smee. The author had a thriving bookshop in Berlin, selling French editions, newspapers and magazines. Society types and celebrities would drop by to browse, buy and socialise. Then 1935 heralded a dark dawn..

  6. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    This is an amazing story. It is very well written and reads very smoothly for a true diary account. It is a slightly different perspective from the Nazi holocaust, but not any less poignant. Note: I was given a complimentary hard copy by the publisher for an honest review.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    Fittingly, I finished reading this on Sunday, which was International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Even after seven decades, we’re still unearthing new Holocaust narratives, such as this one: rediscovered in a flea market in 2010, it was republished in French in 2015 and first became available in English translation in 2017. Born Frymeta Idesa Frenkel in Poland, the author (1889–1975) was a Jew who opened the first French-language bookstore in Berlin in 1921. After Kristallnacht and the seizure of Fittingly, I finished reading this on Sunday, which was International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Even after seven decades, we’re still unearthing new Holocaust narratives, such as this one: rediscovered in a flea market in 2010, it was republished in French in 2015 and first became available in English translation in 2017. Born Frymeta Idesa Frenkel in Poland, the author (1889–1975) was a Jew who opened the first French-language bookstore in Berlin in 1921. After Kristallnacht and the seizure of her stock and furniture, she left for France and a succession of makeshift situations, mostly in Avignon and Nice. She lived in a hotel, a chateau, and the spare room of a sewing machinist whose four cats generously shared their fleas. All along, the Mariuses, a pair of hairdressers, were like guardian angels she could go back to between emergency placements. This memoir showcases the familiar continuum of uneasiness blooming into downright horror as people realized what was going on in Europe. To start with one could downplay the inconveniences of having belongings confiscated and work permits denied, of squeezing onto packed trains and being turned back at closed borders. Only gradually, as rumors spread of what was happening to deported Jews, did Frenkel understand how much danger she was in. The second half of the book is more exciting than the first, especially after Frenkel is arrested at the Swiss border. (Even though you know she makes it out alive.) Her pen portraits of her fellow detainees show real empathy as well as writing talent. Strangely, Frenkel never mentions her husband, who went into exile in France in 1933 and died in Auschwitz in 1942. I would also have liked to hear more about her 17 years of normal bookselling life before everything kicked off. Still, this is a valuable glimpse into the events of the time, and a comparable read to Władysław Szpilman’s The Pianist. Originally published on my blog, Bookish Beck.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Diane S ☔

    3.5 thoughts soon.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Maine Colonial

    As a young woman from Poland studying in Paris after World War I, Francoise Frenkel decided that she was destined to be a bookseller, ideally a seller of French books. Upon discovering that there were no French bookstores in Berlin, she set up shop there. Her brief success was snuffed out by the arrival of the Nazi regime. Prevented from returning to her family in Poland, Frenkel, who was Jewish, fled to France. Despite the title, little of this book is about Frenkel’s Berlin bookshop. The bulk o As a young woman from Poland studying in Paris after World War I, Francoise Frenkel decided that she was destined to be a bookseller, ideally a seller of French books. Upon discovering that there were no French bookstores in Berlin, she set up shop there. Her brief success was snuffed out by the arrival of the Nazi regime. Prevented from returning to her family in Poland, Frenkel, who was Jewish, fled to France. Despite the title, little of this book is about Frenkel’s Berlin bookshop. The bulk of the book describes Frenkel’s time in various places in the south of France, first living as a barely tolerated refugee and then, after the collaborationist Vichy government was installed, living in various hiding places to avoid being rounded up and sent east to the camps. As Frenkel tells in detail of her encounters with a variety of French citizens, it’s like a study in psychology to see the range of reactions of the citizens. Some are active collaborators, such as the border guards who arrest her, along with several others attempting to cross the border into Switzerland. They claim that their government has ordered this and it’s for the good of the country, because the Jews ruined Germany and would also ruin France. They either naively or mendaciously tell the arrestees that they will just be sent to work in Germany. Those who help Frenkel are the most interesting group. Some do it for money and are ready to fleece her, or turn her over or kick her out at a moment’s notice. Others help to be kind, but have a bit of cognitive dissonance, because they like her and want to be kind to her, but they are still ready to buy into the Nazi/Vichy slanders of the Jews as a “race.” But then there are those few who help her over and over, at the risk of their own safety, for no reward, but simply because it’s the right thing to do for a fellow human being and for France. I listened to this book during the second month of the coronavirus pandemic in the US. I couldn’t help but feel embarrassed by my occasional frustration with being cooped up when I read of Frenkel’s long months hiding in small rooms, never going outside, fearful every day that she would be found out or betrayed. This went on for almost three years before she was able to make her escape. I can’t recommend the audiobook, read by Jilly Bond. She is a popular audiobook narrator, but she’s the wrong choice for this book. Bond is the queen of the humorous voice. Without actually laughing aloud, she can imbue her tone with anything from amusement to hilarity. Unfortunately, she uses that tone in this book often when I think Frenkel meant an ironical tone, even bitterly ironical at times, and with good reason.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Shiloah

    A hard to put down book. I feel so connected to those who lived through this time period. Reading their memoirs makes my life better and gives me a deeper appreciation for my freedoms. I also love to read of the angels on earth who love, help, and support others without judgement and giving the best of their time and resources without thought of pay. God still lives in our daily lives through our willingness to serve and keep the second commandment. I highly recommend this book. It’s squeaky cle A hard to put down book. I feel so connected to those who lived through this time period. Reading their memoirs makes my life better and gives me a deeper appreciation for my freedoms. I also love to read of the angels on earth who love, help, and support others without judgement and giving the best of their time and resources without thought of pay. God still lives in our daily lives through our willingness to serve and keep the second commandment. I highly recommend this book. It’s squeaky clean. If you have a youth interested in memoirs from this time, this is one I’d let my youth read.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Philippe Malzieu

    It is a story like Nemirovski. A text found by chance. This is a story tipically mittel-Europa. A Russian Jewish young woman, fascinated by french littérature who became bookseller in Berlin. Many french author visited her (Colette, Gide...). An Wolfie uncle arrived in 1930. Exile, Paris, Nice, Helvetia. The account of her life was published discretly in 1945 by an small editor and after nothing. One book in bad states was found at a secondhand bookseller by chance. Modiano was enthused over it. It is a story like Nemirovski. A text found by chance. This is a story tipically mittel-Europa. A Russian Jewish young woman, fascinated by french littérature who became bookseller in Berlin. Many french author visited her (Colette, Gide...). An Wolfie uncle arrived in 1930. Exile, Paris, Nice, Helvetia. The account of her life was published discretly in 1945 by an small editor and after nothing. One book in bad states was found at a secondhand bookseller by chance. Modiano was enthused over it. It is a history as he likes. .We know nothing of her life after WWII. We have no photo of her. She died in Nice in 1975, it is the alone certitude, no family. Modiano asked to Gallimard to publish it. It is written well, very interesting, but it does not have the genius of Némirovski which was a real writer. (Wolfie uncle was the Cosima Wagner expression for named Hitler)

  12. 5 out of 5

    TraceyL

    I read this for a book club. It was fine. I always feel bad rating memoirs poorly, especially when they deal with serious subject matter, but this was pretty forgettable for me. There's nothing wrong with it but I just think there are better memoirs out there. I think it's also worth noting that this has very little to do with a bookshop. This isn't a book about books, which I thought it might be when I went into it. The author had started a bookshop when she had to go into hiding. Most of the b I read this for a book club. It was fine. I always feel bad rating memoirs poorly, especially when they deal with serious subject matter, but this was pretty forgettable for me. There's nothing wrong with it but I just think there are better memoirs out there. I think it's also worth noting that this has very little to do with a bookshop. This isn't a book about books, which I thought it might be when I went into it. The author had started a bookshop when she had to go into hiding. Most of the book takes place after that.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Dan

    “Oh, the memory of the emergence of a leader with the face of an automaton, a face so deeply marked by hate and pride, dead to all feelings of love, friendship, goodness, or pity. ..” (p. 31) Françoise Frenkel’s A Bookshop in Berlin has a long and circuitous publication history. First published in Switzerland in French in 1945 as Rien où poser sa tête (No place to rest her head), it soon became out-of-print and apparently forgotten until its rediscovery in 2010, reissued in France with an introdu “Oh, the memory of the emergence of a leader with the face of an automaton, a face so deeply marked by hate and pride, dead to all feelings of love, friendship, goodness, or pity. ..” (p. 31) Françoise Frenkel’s A Bookshop in Berlin has a long and circuitous publication history. First published in Switzerland in French in 1945 as Rien où poser sa tête (No place to rest her head), it soon became out-of-print and apparently forgotten until its rediscovery in 2010, reissued in France with an introduction by Nobel Prize laureate Patrick Modiano in 2015, translated into English and published in Australia in 2017, published in the U.K. in 2018, and finally in the U.S. in December 2019. Rien où poser sa tête is a perfectly apposite title: A Bookshop in Berlin is Frenkel’s crushing version of hell, in which her beloved (and the only) French bookstore in Berlin is first disrupted after Hitler’s ascension in 1933, vandalized during and after Kristallnacht in 1938, and finally abandoned when Frenkel fled to France in 1939. Frenkel, Polish by birth and holder of a French temporary residence permit, flees to Avignon three days before the German bombing of Paris, and then repeatedly relocates within southern France trying to escape detection by the Germans and collaborationists, prior to her imprisonment, two failed escape attempts to Switzerland, and then her eventually success in 1943. Meanwhile, Frenkel — born in 1889, a woman in her 50s during World War Two — despairs over her mother and other relatives who remained in Poland. This, from a 1945 letter to a priest who had befriended and aided her: ”I would be so grateful for your prayers — I seek inner peace: I am grieving for so many and know not where my family have been laid to rest. How great is my suffering.” (p. 247) Frenkel’s stateless husband, unmentioned by Frenkel, had fled from Berlin back to Paris in 1933 and was murdered in Auschwitz in 1942. Frenkel reveals both the everyday heroism of her French friends and colleagues, as well as the greed and cowardice of others she encounters. Frenkel expresses gratitude and admiration to many, while mostly withholding moral judgement about others. Of course, other memoirs of the Shoah have been published. Each memoir is unique and tells a unique story and essentially incomparable story. Frenkel’s A Bookshop in Berlin is a heartbreaking and harrowing memoir. For those familiar with Patrick Modiano’s fiction and other writings, his introduction may surprise. Modiano, ever devoted to giving voice to disappeared voices and to rediscovering personal histories lost to World War Two and afterwards, here argues for leaving Françoise Frenkel’s life unexamined outside of what she reveals of herself in A Bookshop in Berlin: ”Do we really need to know more? I don’t believe we do. What makes No Place to Lay One’s Head unique is that we cannot precisely identify its author. . . I prefer not to know what Françoise Frenkel’s face looked like, nor the twists and turns of her life after the war, nor the date of her death. Thus, her book will always remain for me that letter from an unknown woman, a letter forgotten poste restante for an eternity, that you’ve received in error, it seems, but that perhaps was intended for you.” (pp. ix-x) Given Frenkel’s reticence in A Bookshop in Berlin about so many personal details of her life, Modiano’s call to honor Frenkel’s posthumous privacy feel especially important.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    From BBC Radio 4 - Book of the Week: Francoise Frenkel's real life account of flight from Berlin on the 'night of broken glass', is abridged in five parts by Katrin Williams and translated by Stephanie Smee. The author had a thriving bookshop in Berlin, selling French editions, newspapers and magazines. Society types and celebrities would drop by to browse, buy and socialise. Then 1935 heralded a dark dawn.. Read by Samantha Spiro Producer Duncan Minshull. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b09pkyg7 From BBC Radio 4 - Book of the Week: Francoise Frenkel's real life account of flight from Berlin on the 'night of broken glass', is abridged in five parts by Katrin Williams and translated by Stephanie Smee. The author had a thriving bookshop in Berlin, selling French editions, newspapers and magazines. Society types and celebrities would drop by to browse, buy and socialise. Then 1935 heralded a dark dawn.. Read by Samantha Spiro Producer Duncan Minshull. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b09pkyg7

  15. 4 out of 5

    Benjamin baschinsky

    DNF. Perhaps I have read too many books about World War II. It just didn't do anything for me. Highly subjective.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Donna

    This was just okay for me. It was Nonfiction - WWII - Autobiography. First the title was misleading and it didn't fit this book at all. It wasn't about a bookshop or about Berlin. This was written by a Jewish woman who did at one time own a bookshop in Berlin. She had an interesting story to tell as she struggled to survive WWII and I appreciated the French history in this and the descriptions of the French people. So many were quick and eager to help, even with the threat of the Nazis looming o This was just okay for me. It was Nonfiction - WWII - Autobiography. First the title was misleading and it didn't fit this book at all. It wasn't about a bookshop or about Berlin. This was written by a Jewish woman who did at one time own a bookshop in Berlin. She had an interesting story to tell as she struggled to survive WWII and I appreciated the French history in this and the descriptions of the French people. So many were quick and eager to help, even with the threat of the Nazis looming overhead. However, for the most part, this was just okay. I can't pinpoint exact reasons why I wasn't pulled into this one. I just wasn't feeling it. I'm toggling between 2 and 3 stars, but I will round up to 3 for the history.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    I have seen a lot of comparisons between Françoise Frenkel’s memoir and Suite Française by Irène Némirovsky. They both depict the struggles of living in Nazi occupied France for a Jewish woman and both were works that were found by chance and published. I am yet to read Suite Française, although it sits on my shelf quietly waiting, so I am unable to speak to any more similarities. No Place to Lay One’s Head (Rien où poser sa tête) was originally published in 1945 with a limited run by the now de I have seen a lot of comparisons between Françoise Frenkel’s memoir and Suite Française by Irène Némirovsky. They both depict the struggles of living in Nazi occupied France for a Jewish woman and both were works that were found by chance and published. I am yet to read Suite Française, although it sits on my shelf quietly waiting, so I am unable to speak to any more similarities. No Place to Lay One’s Head (Rien où poser sa tête) was originally published in 1945 with a limited run by the now defunct publishing house Verlag Jehebe. Thirty years later it was rediscovered in an attic in the south of France and republished in 2015. Thanks to the efforts of Australian translator Stephanie Smee, an English translation of this book was released this year. This memoir gives an account of part of her life, from opening Berlin’s first specialist French bookstore in 1921 to her experience with the rise of the Nazi party. Françoise Frenkel, like many other Jewish people, suffered greatly, but what fascinated me about No Place to Lay One’s Head is what she left out of the book. There is no mention of her husband in Rien où poser sa tête at all. The only reason I know about his existence is because of the timeline in the back of the book. Grief is a powerful emotion and people find their own ways to deal with the pain. Looking at this timeline I know that Frenkel and her husband Simon Raichenstein opened Maison du Livre français (which means House of the French Books) together. He was deported (due to the fact he was a Belarusian) and lived in France from 1933, until he was arrested in 1942 and sent to Auschwitz, where he was murdered. Françoise Frenkel ran the bookstore alone until she escaped Germany in 1939. I do not know if the two spent reunited in France, but I suspect that they may have. My suspicions are based on this idea of grief; Frenkel started writing No Place to Lay One’s Head in 1943 after she was able to so escape to Switzerland, and I get the feeling that the anger and sadness that comes through in the book might have been related to the one person she cannot bare to talk about. I picked up this book in the hopes to explore the life of a specialist book seller in a rapidly changing political climate but I got something different. I would have loved more chapters on her time learning the trade in a second hand bookstore in the Rue Gay-Lussac. Or even exploring the idea of opening a specialist French bookshop in Germany and the impact it had. Maybe even something that compared the idea to Sylvia Beach opening Shakespeare and Company (a specialty book store dedicated to English language books) in France two years earlier. I love books about books and thought these would be some interesting topics to explore. However I got something completely different; something so devastating and yet full of beauty. I am partial to a book that is able to deliver cruelty and shock in such an elegant way and I think No Place to Lay One’s Head was able to do just that. It is a weird feeling to go into a book hoping for one thing but finding something unexpected. This memoir is heartbreaking and to try and understand everything she was not saying, just made this book even more affecting. In the back of the book there is one picture of a dedication she wrote to a priest. “…I would be so grateful for your prayers – I seek inner peace; I am grieving for so many and know not where my family have been laid to rest.” I think that sums up the feeling Françoise Frenkel must have had when writing No Place to Lay One’s Head. This review originally appeared on my blog; http://www.knowledgelost.org/book-rev...

  18. 4 out of 5

    Kayla TM

    Rediscovered in an attic in 2010, the memoir of Françoise Frenkel is the story of a Polish-born Jewish woman’s journey to avoid the Nazis during World War II. It begins with a bookshop Françoise opens in Berlin: a store that caters to French literature and has a good following before the Nazis begin destroying the businesses of Jewish people. Fearing for her safety, Françoise flees to France. Soon, the German army overtakes France and Françoise is forced to hide and attempt to flee to Switzerlan Rediscovered in an attic in 2010, the memoir of Françoise Frenkel is the story of a Polish-born Jewish woman’s journey to avoid the Nazis during World War II. It begins with a bookshop Françoise opens in Berlin: a store that caters to French literature and has a good following before the Nazis begin destroying the businesses of Jewish people. Fearing for her safety, Françoise flees to France. Soon, the German army overtakes France and Françoise is forced to hide and attempt to flee to Switzerland. It is the story of a woman unwilling to just surrender. There were definite things I really liked about it: the raw honesty of it, the story itself being different from the mainstream WWII books I’ve read, and the social commentary and insights. The story Françoise tells is of a foreigner trapped in a country that is hostile toward her presence but refuses to allow her to leave. Even after she obtains a Swiss visa, any attempt of hers to flee is considered a crime, despite the fact that she faces deportation to a concentration camp. I also enjoyed her insight into the detriment the German soldiers actions had on the economy. What bothered me, however, was something pointed out in the introduction: Françoise has a husband whom she never mentions. She doesn’t even mention being married, yet the fact exists. Sure it may not be entirely pertinent to the story, but his incarceration would add another level to the story. Without mentioning him, I have a question of what other important details were left out. Simply omitted for some reason that we will never know. The ending was, also, so abrupt that I feel like it isn’t over. If it didn’t include the “fin” I would think I was missing something. In the end, I think I have to give the book 4 stars. It was a interesting, engaging read that I won’t easily forget.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Shomeret

    When a major publisher offers me a newly translated World War II memoir for review, I sit up and take notice. I was also inclined to read it because the author was a Jewish bookstore owner. A title like A Bookshop in Berlin implies that it delivers a first hand perspective on the Nazi persecution of Jewish owned stores before the Holocaust began. This sounded like it could be a riveting perspective. So I accepted a free copy of this memoir by Françoise Frenkel. When I started this book, I wanted When a major publisher offers me a newly translated World War II memoir for review, I sit up and take notice. I was also inclined to read it because the author was a Jewish bookstore owner. A title like A Bookshop in Berlin implies that it delivers a first hand perspective on the Nazi persecution of Jewish owned stores before the Holocaust began. This sounded like it could be a riveting perspective. So I accepted a free copy of this memoir by Françoise Frenkel. When I started this book, I wanted to know why a woman who was born Frymeta became Françoise. As I read further, I theorized that she felt more at home in a nation that was probably more welcoming to her than Poland may have been. Readers won't find out about her childhood experiences in Poland. We also learn very little about her family, but they must have been successful financially. Frenkel had the opportunity to leave Poland and pursue an education in Paris. Those Paris years shaped her identity and her life goals. Frenkel's persistence, resourcefulness and courage in the face of Nazi persecution make her admirable. I also found out about the Italian occupation of Provence during WWII as a result of this book. This was a research opportunity for me. I would love to know more. Perhaps the re-publication of Frenkel's memoir will encourage more publishers to release French books about WWII in English. For my complete review see https://shomeretmasked.blogspot.com/2...

  20. 5 out of 5

    Morgan

    Françoise Frenkel experienced many harrowing years in France during WWII. She recounts those events in a very personal tone. I felt much as if she was walking beside me whispering her story to me. After previous failed attempts she finally made her way across the border to Switzerland where she sets down her story. Her writing is in no way dramatic as her circumstances would have dictated, just her story in her own words. No flourishes whatsoever. Having spent years in hiding, shuffling from plac Françoise Frenkel experienced many harrowing years in France during WWII. She recounts those events in a very personal tone. I felt much as if she was walking beside me whispering her story to me. After previous failed attempts she finally made her way across the border to Switzerland where she sets down her story. Her writing is in no way dramatic as her circumstances would have dictated, just her story in her own words. No flourishes whatsoever. Having spent years in hiding, shuffling from place to place, always in imminent danger, as well as being imprisoned she seems to hold no rancor in her heart. After all she had witnessed and endured her writing shows not a trace of bitterness. Her narrative had me engrossed and feeling as if I was there with Françoise on her journey, such are the details she provides. This is a very different kind of WWII story from anything I have read before. (Originally published September 1945 in French “Rien où poser sa tête”)

  21. 4 out of 5

    Donna McCaul Thibodeau

    Three stars with one added for it being a true story from World War II. The author owned a French bookshop in Berlin. When the persecution of Jews became rampant, she fled to France. This is the story of how she finally escaped to Switzerland. I didn't find the writing compelling but I had much admiration for the author and the trials she had to endure.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    Very good and interesting, I just wish we knew more. Her husband? What was her life like "after"?

  23. 5 out of 5

    DeAnna Thames

    The standout book of the year. My mind and soul absorbed, “ A bookshop in Berlin” in 5 hours. I was left with renewed hope for the individuals ability to be compassionate in times seemingly devoid of hope. In turn I read the last word and immediately felt sadness that I couldn’t experience more of Francoise Frenkel , sadness that she ( someone I feel I would have been great friends with) struggled and lost so much and would never see how her words touched so many ( as I feel they will). Surely t The standout book of the year. My mind and soul absorbed, “ A bookshop in Berlin” in 5 hours. I was left with renewed hope for the individuals ability to be compassionate in times seemingly devoid of hope. In turn I read the last word and immediately felt sadness that I couldn’t experience more of Francoise Frenkel , sadness that she ( someone I feel I would have been great friends with) struggled and lost so much and would never see how her words touched so many ( as I feel they will). Surely this was not her only piece of work. I felt I was there with her as she said goodbye to her beloved friends and left them sitting on a shelf , leaving their fates in the hands of the nazis. Frenkels encounters across France reveal a side to the crimes against the Jewish people not as brutal as others depicted but equally disheartening. Unlike many recounts of these times we are also shown that kindness from strangers isn’t as few and far between as it seems. With a gentle, honest and factual hand she paints a beautifully graceful picture of one woman’s life on the run, armed only with her love of France and literature. Turn the pages and breathe in France. Watch it’s beauty stand tall through dark hours.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Denise

    Originally published in 1945 and recently rediscovered, this is the memoir of a Jewish woman born in Poland who ran a French bookshop in Berlin until the Nazi regime's intensifying persecution of Jews forced her to flee to France. As war comes to her refuge, she flees again, this time to the South, where she has to rely on the kindness of friends and strangers alike to stay alive before finally daring the dangerous escape across the Swiss border. A testament to the author's resilience. I was sur Originally published in 1945 and recently rediscovered, this is the memoir of a Jewish woman born in Poland who ran a French bookshop in Berlin until the Nazi regime's intensifying persecution of Jews forced her to flee to France. As war comes to her refuge, she flees again, this time to the South, where she has to rely on the kindness of friends and strangers alike to stay alive before finally daring the dangerous escape across the Swiss border. A testament to the author's resilience. I was surprised to find out afterwards that she had been married, as she never so much as mentions the existence of a husband over the course of the book.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

    Although France was a horrible place at this point in time, I'm uplifted and encouraged by the nobility and compassion of so many souls.

  26. 5 out of 5

    KSMary

    While I thought her experiences were interesting, I found myself wanting to know more. Who was her husband? What exactly happened to him? What happened to her after the war? I think the title is misleading and the original title of "No place to lay one's head" would have been a much more appropriate title for the book.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Laurie Lawler Boll

    “We’re hunting humans now” is the reply to Francoise Frenkel’s question of a passerby of why men, women and children were being shoved into transport trucks by gendarmes in Nice. This is Nazi-occupied France in 1942, and the reader is only part-way through Ms. Frenkel’s harrowing journey from Berlin to Switzerland. We meet many people along the way who put their own lives at risk to help Ms. Frenkel find safe passage to Switzerland, and observe first-hand the despair, fear, and exhaustion that “We’re hunting humans now” is the reply to Francoise Frenkel’s question of a passerby of why men, women and children were being shoved into transport trucks by gendarmes in Nice. This is Nazi-occupied France in 1942, and the reader is only part-way through Ms. Frenkel’s harrowing journey from Berlin to Switzerland. We meet many people along the way who put their own lives at risk to help Ms. Frenkel find safe passage to Switzerland, and observe first-hand the despair, fear, and exhaustion that one lived with during these times. What made this book especially compelling to me is the history of how it came to be. Originally published in Switzerland in 1945, it soon went out of print and was ‘rediscovered’ in 2010 when a copy was found at a flea market. It was then published in France in 2015, and recently translated to English. Francoise Frenkel didn’t publish any other books, and her life after the war remains a mystery.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Susan Coventry

    Another testament to the courage and resilience of displaced Jews during WW2. This is one woman's story of how she went from being a successful bookstore owner to a hunted refugee. An engaging read.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    This is a very interesting memoir of a Polish Jew who escaped from the Nazis during World War II. Francoise Frenkel and her husband originally from Poland opened a French bookstore in Berlin in 1921, where there was peace until 1935. Then her bookstore is destroyed by the Nazis because she is Jewish. She eventually went into exile in France and finally with the help of friends made it safely to Switzerland. Frenkel writes candidly about her fears and ordeals, and it is ultimately a story of libe This is a very interesting memoir of a Polish Jew who escaped from the Nazis during World War II. Francoise Frenkel and her husband originally from Poland opened a French bookstore in Berlin in 1921, where there was peace until 1935. Then her bookstore is destroyed by the Nazis because she is Jewish. She eventually went into exile in France and finally with the help of friends made it safely to Switzerland. Frenkel writes candidly about her fears and ordeals, and it is ultimately a story of liberation and redemption. Not much is said in the book about her husband and his mysterious exile in France. She uses the word "we" a lot in the book and I'm not sure who "we" is? Is it her husband? So many unanswered questions about his disappearance. Is it possible that they had a falling out or maybe when she did find out what happened to him it was to painful to mention him? One thing I am happy about is something good actually came out of the Holocaust in that this person survived. It is a fascinating read, I just wish some of the gaps were fulfilled with missing information.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Margo

    This isn't a story about Berlin - instead it's a Holocaust survival story. I think what made this book of interest today is that after being initially published in 1945, it was lost and not rediscovered until 2010. Republished in France at that time and now translated into English. It's the story of a Polish Jewish woman - she's well educated in Paris at the Sorbonne - and after finds herself running a French language bookshop in Berlin. She's clearly very privileged with many connections. Throu This isn't a story about Berlin - instead it's a Holocaust survival story. I think what made this book of interest today is that after being initially published in 1945, it was lost and not rediscovered until 2010. Republished in France at that time and now translated into English. It's the story of a Polish Jewish woman - she's well educated in Paris at the Sorbonne - and after finds herself running a French language bookshop in Berlin. She's clearly very privileged with many connections. Through them she first escapes the beginning of WWII in Paris and then ultimately must flee to the south of France. She has a harrowing three years trying to flee the Nazis and ultimately escapes to Switzerland. What makes this kind of interesting is the anonymity of her story. Beyond publishing this memoir, practically nothing is known of her life until her death in the '70s at 86. The writing is simple, straightforward and of course the story is appallingly familiar. Glad to have read.

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