Mosaic is compelling storytelling at its best - from the fascinating details of Polish-Jewish culture and the rivalries and dramas of family life, to its moving account of lives torn apart by war and persecution, this an extraordinary story of a family, and of one woman's journey to reclaim her heritage.
©2002 Diane Armstrong; (P)2009 Bolinda Publishing
"Although it has the epic sweep and emotional depth of a 19th-century novel, Diane Armstrong's absorbing family memoir centers around the 20th-century Holocaust that consumed the lives of six million European Jews....Her skillful blending of vibrant individual voices across the generations makes this memoir a touching tribute to the healing powers of storytelling as well as to the unquenchable human spirit." (Amazon.com review)
It took me 2 weeks to tell my 84 year old mom to read this because the emotions were still to raw to find a way to put into words. Touches on so many of our lives in so many ways but for those of us lucky enough to have relatives who left in time, a must-read account of what could have been for us and was for so many...and left us wondering about the familes we never knew nor ever will. The way Ms Armstrong has written this tapestry of her family....especially as an audio book, read by the perfect person...places it in a place in my heart and mind I will never forget...and I thank her for writing it and sharing it because I know I will never be the same. If only the world understood the senselessness in hate and the rewards in tolerance.
This audio book was utterly compelling. It reads like a beautifully written historical novel, and is all the more remarkable because it is a true biographical and autobiographical account of a real family, rather than fiction.
It was painful at times to listen to, when holocaust atrocities are detailed, but, even in the midst of the horror, human courage, love, faith, the miraculous, and the power of family bonds still shine through the narrative.
I cannot recommend this highly enough if you appreciate history and human interest biographies, this one is unforgettable.
I adored this very moving family chronicle almost without reservation until the author reached her own generation . I found her boastful description on of her husband's career, never mind her own, cringeworthy. Her husband's 'meteoric ' rise in his medical career along with the disclosure that he displayed his holiday snaps in 'all the top Sydney galleries,' , irritating abd unnecessary . The family sounds great; no need to turn people off with the bragging.
I was also disappointed that after all the horror associated with religion, one of the greatest moments of her life was when her daughter-in-law converted to Judaism . I was totally fascinated to learn more about the Jewish religion but I was sad to learn that in order to carry on her family's traditions, religion had to get on board . Wasn't the lesson of the Holocaust that we're all the same? .
Just a personal observation The story remains extremely compelling and beautifully read .
A deeply moving account of triumph under harrowing and heartbreaking times. One of the finest nonfiction works I've ever encountered. Despite the hardships and horrors, a family lives and testifies to the power of love, family, survival. Highly recommended for its' breadth of emotion, fabulous narration and stunning account of victory.
I go through about 3-4 audio books a month and I rarely write reviews, but for this book I will take the time. Diane, with her thoughtful words tells a complex multi-generational tale of a large Jewish family and its slow decent into the horrifying years that the madman Hitler ruled part of Europe.
To tell the story of so many characters is difficult but Diane seems to do it with ease and congruency. Her story telling ability had me not wanting to turn off the radio. I found myself driving around the outskirts of my neighborhood for a few more minutes to hear what happens next.
The accented Deidre Rubenstein does an excellent job of narrating this journey of a family rich in character, the sad fate of some and the brave journey of those who kept moving forward and lived to tell about it.
I found this to be a beautifully and interesting told story of an important and very scary time we should never forget, if nothing else, so it does not happen again. It seems to not understand this history only allows the door to open for history to repeat itself, perhaps with a different culture and a slightly different bent. Diane captures the time and the moments magnificently.
I've read and seen other stories of the Holocaust, but this one excels. It has so many details, it makes you feel you actually knew the members of her family. One caution though, if you're struggling with depression, this is not the book to read right now. The subject matter is very difficult and heart-rending, although it's written very well. She actually came up with words for the thoughts that went thru my head when MY mother died, at the time her mother passed away - things that rang so true, I was in tears while listening - and I very seldom cry when it comes to books.
I have one suggestion - there are so many people in her family that I went into Google Books, hoping to find some kind of family tree from her book, and it was there! Just do a search on "Mosaic" in Google Books - I downloaded it, printed it out, and kept it in my car so I could glance at it every so often if I was wondering who she was talking about. It really helped, especially because of the foreign names and because some of the family members actually had the same name.
I found out a few years ago that I'm Jewish and that some of my family members died in the Holocaust. Because of this book, I now feel that I can identify with what some of them must have experienced during those awful years. Highly recommended!
"Part of History"
It took me a long time to get through Mosaic. I have to admit to almost giving up a few times especially in Part 1. It's more of a memoir, albeit an important one, since it follows a family through generations before WW1 to present. Much of it revolves around the Holocaust and how it affected the lives of the central family, the Baldinger's & their 11 children, cousins, aunts uncles. Lots of Polish names, which made it hard to keep the characters straight. Armstrong must be commended on her research of each of these family members from birth to adulthood and the challenges they lived through. She did a good job, but there was no real pace to the book to keep me going. It was like reading a diary – factual and chronological. Armstrong does a good job at showing the effects of the Holocaust on individual lives long after the war is over. I'm glad I finished it. Although it wasn't one of the more interesting books I've read on this topic, it is very still very important.
Deidre Rubenstein did an okay job of narrating. At the start I found her long pauses after every sentence annoying and it almost caused me to stop listening. But I eventually got used to it and she stopped exaggerating each pause as the story progressed.
Mosaic ranks at the top of my audible listens. I have heard over 250 books. My tastes usually run to sci-fi, espionage,and history.
This book is for anyone who has family from eastern europe whose history is lost in the terrors of WW II, has had family who fought to free the world from Nazi insanity, or is interested in following a Jewish family thru 4 generations and two world wars.
There are times when the names run together but this is a minor inconvenience.
The narrator is clear and speaks with emotion.
The first genertion children have the most depth especially th first son.
This is my first experience with Diedra Rubenstein who was excellent.
This could be an HBO series of 5-15 episodes.
I felt as if the story integrated into my being.
"A beautiful and haunting mosaic"
This intensely pseronal and moving family history is an important book. Particularly stirring are the depictions of Mrs. Armstrong's family during the Nazi occupation of Poland during WWII - those who survived, those who did not, and the complex relationships that formed because of it.
The narrator was incredible, with one reservation - she did not depict different voices during spots of dialogue. As there were very little scenes of such, her emotional reading was otherwise superb.
"Amazing recovery of one family's history and tree."
This is a good book and, for the most part, interesting about the personal quest to recover a family's history and through them, to understand the lives of Polish Jews from the early 1900's through the 1950's, although some events are drawn from contemporary life. Other reviewers have described its content and some of the details, and I will not repeat them. It is remarkable how many of her relatives survived the holocaust, an abnormally large percentage compared to the three million Polish Jews (90%) killed. Ironically, it probably reflected that many of her relatives were not really part of a closely knit family and often children were eager to leave home to seek their fortunes, sometimes elsewhere in Poland, sometimes further. This was especially true of the 11 children of Daniel and Lieba, of which her father was one.
It is both a tale about various branches of the author's family tree as well as a personal journey to recapture her lost early childhood during the holocaust, having been born in 1939. Who were the people she met and knew at a young age? How have they contributed to the person that she has become? Given the devastation and destruction of European Jewry, it is amazing how many details of her family tree she was able to uncover. It illustrates her journalistic talent and experience.
The book reads like an historical novel except when she is relating her own impressions and experiences. Indeed, many of the specific events and conversations are clearly speculative, although having a basis in fact. This enhanced the reading and made for a much more interesting story than a narrative of the results of her research and interviews. She has a good sense of drama; however, I sometimes wondered whether I was reading a composite of some people who may have existed or descriptions of meetings and events that never really occured.
Her portraits of her near relatives seem realistic. She attributes to them positive qualities, such as generosity or cleverness, while, at the same time, indicating shortcomings, such as jealousy, selfishness, coldness, or miserliness.
On the other hand, the book is a bit tedious at times and could have benefitted from a strong editor. Her story could easily have been told in less than 500 pages instead of 600. Some events and thoughts are repeated verbatim, and some of her introspections are drawn out far too long. For example, her emotional difficulties dealing with the decline of her mother's health and, eventually, her death in Sydney, are not really so different from the experiences of many others who have had to become caregivers to one or more parent. However sad, it is really tangential to the book's thread, yet it drags on and on.
About the audio edition: The narrator did a very good job, given the first person point of view of the author. There are many characters who make appearances or are referenced in some part of the book that it is hard sometimes to remember. The printed book has diagrams of the family tree that the author recovered. Audible was remiss in not making this available to download. It would have helped me avoid a lot of confusion.
This is an amazing book that is perfectly narrated. The story is captivating and important I'm almost to the end and I want it to go on!
"Should be read by all high school students"
This was an amazing piece of literature. In story form it provides a history of what happened to many Jews in Poland during WWll. A must read.
"Excellent book loved it!"
I am not much for writing reviews, but this book I truly enjoyed. I did not know that much about the Polish people in this book brought it to life in a way that was pure enjoyment and emotionally relevant. I have read many books about the holocaust but not in that kept me quite as riveted as this book story dead. The names are difficult and I needed to listen to it several times to get the full impact but it's worth every moment. Books like this need to be written, so that something like this never ever happens again. Mosaics is a wonderful history lesson told beautifully through the eyes of a child mother and writer.
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