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Art of a Jewish Woman: The True Story of How a Penniless Holocaust Escapee Became an Influential Modern Art Connoisseur (formerly titled Felice's Worlds) [Kindle Edition]

Henry Massie
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Product Description

Product Description

First she escaped the Holocaust and the poverty of the shtetl. After that, she moved in many worlds. And in every one she made her mark.
"Henry Massie never blinks as he creates an astonishing chronicle of a life in diaspora. Only a son could capture this passionate spirit, who escaped both Adolf Hitler and Joe McCarthy." -Patty Friedmann, author of Too Jewish

Art of a Jewish Woman is a memoir and biography of Massie's mother, a brilliant and beautiful woman who escaped the Holocaust and participated in many of the most critical periods of the 20th Century. One part historical biography, weaving World War II era European cultural relationships with the history of Modern Art, and one part inspirational romance, it paints a vivid portrait of Felice as an indomitable spirit, her boldness and resilience a beacon of hope.

"The most clear expose on the Holocaust and European history that I've read outside of text books ... A mesmerizing, rare and unforgettable read." -A Bookish Libraria

"A biography that chronicles an amazing life ... Vivid rather than stuffy." -A Universe in Words

From the author:
I had listened to my mother’s tales all my life and wanted to share them. She was an escapee from a Polish shtetl wiped out by the Nazis, a high-school political activist in Lithuania, a university student in France who lost her first love tragically, a partisan for Arab-Jewish co-existence in Palestine who was caught in the first intifada in 1936, and a penniless arrival to America in 1937.

Yet when she died she had amassed one of the most important collections of Modern Art in the world and was a university lecturer on the subject.

When she was lecturing on modern art at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, young women flocked to her. She advised them on their love-life and mentored them in their education. She never spoke of the Feminist movement, however one of her college students said height of feminism in the 1970s, "She was the quintessential modern woman. That short hair [like Audrey Hepburn's], those clothes [colorful folkloric during the day, black skirt to the knee with a black top in the evening], that lovely petite body with the big brown eyes. She was alive, forceful, independent and challenging."

In writing about her, I understood for the first time how her experience of losing loved ones to the Nazis had been passed on to her American son.

But as a psychiatrist, I was drawn to Felice’s story because it shows so much resilience in the face of terrible emotional trauma. Her life dramatizes how just keeping on through days of having nothing but a belief that "someday I will have something," can be a powerful survival tool.

Inside the stone building, a British officer examined passenger's travel documents. When Felice's turn came, the crisply uniformed colonel looked at her bare shoulders and her short beige and cream linen dress. A marriage certificate issued the day before by a rabbi in Beirut said they were husband and wife. The man looked malnourished. He had a red beard and long ear-locks, and large spectacles covered his face. His black suit was all dusty, and his head was covered with a large Hassidic black fedora. The couple did not speak to each other. The colonel was under orders to do his part at the border to stop the flow of illegal immigrants into Palestine. He asked Felice first in English, which she didn't know, then in French, "Are the two of you married?"

"Yes, of course," she answered him.

"What language do you have in common?" he continued, probing the ruse.

But Felice and her newly certificated husband had no language in common. He spoke Arabic and Hebrew, and she Polish, French, German, Yiddish, and some Russian. "The Language of love," she said in perfect melodious French, not missing a beat, flirting with the colonel.

He stamped her entry visa.

Product Details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1551 KB
  • Print Length: 220 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: booksBnimble (Nov. 19 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0079Q0HU6
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #153,874 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)

Customer Reviews

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A compelling tribute to love and perseverance Nov. 18 2015
By Chris Gregory TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Kindle Edition
Dr. Massive must be a dedicated, loving son. He obviously paid close attention to his mother's life story. I can just picture him listening at her feet and then maybe going outside to act out some of the compelling scenes or going over them in his young mind.

Here he has offered a fitting tribute to his mother. I really appreciate all these first or second hand stories of the World War II era. And this is an especially well written presentation with excellent character and scene development. This story provides us with a realistic and personal story of the inhumane treatment of the Jewish people - a treatment that continues to this day in the form of Radical Islam, another, even more barbarous, insidious form of modern day fascism.

Kudos to Henry Massie for this enlightening, well written treasure of one woman's struggle and success against overwhelming odds
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.9 out of 5 stars  317 reviews
73 of 74 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Memorable story Feb. 24 2012
By Cheryl - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is an engaging book about a fascinating woman. It's a biography as told by her son which offers readers a new way of thinking about the idea of "holocaust survivor" and how trauma reverberates from one generation to another. The narrative moves along briskly, taking us from France to Palestine to Poland to America as we follow Felice's escape from the war zones of the 20th century. The narrative is restrained but honest and insightful, giving us a portrait of a woman who is both admirable and troubled, indomitable and damaged. And it shows a son who comes to understand more about both his mother and himself in the process of telling her story.
38 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring Story Feb. 24 2012
By Bridget Connelly - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I've just finished reading Felice's Worlds on Kindle. I love it! It's a good story about a smart, brave girl and a brilliant, big-hearted woman. The book is a well-written and fast paced adventure through a life well-lived. I enjoyed reading the text on Kindle, but now I want to see the paper edition soon; the reader just craves seeing pictures of the many worlds through which Felice travelled: the Polish shtetl, the French university town, Jaffa in 1930s, and the modernist art she loved!
35 of 38 people found the following review helpful
By THE SELF-TAUGHT COOK - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition
As a young girl in WWII Poland, Felice faced almost certain death until she was able to emigrate to Palestine. Leaving her first love behind, she traveled from country to country, searching for a home. Her journey, both physical and emotional, is the basis of Felice's Worlds.

Dr. Henry Massie tells his mother's story as only a son could tell it. These are the stories that he heard his entire life. Her journey is a fascinating story. However, the writing style is a bit dry. It reads more like an academic paper than as a biography. I found it interesting that, as an adult, a Holocaust survivor heard him tell his mother's story and told him that he had the emotional distance of a survivor. His writing has the same detachment, which makes for a difficult reading experience. However, her story is an interesting one and deserves to be told.

3 stars

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Pump Up Your Book book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 <[...]> : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Felice's World Feb. 28 2012
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Felice's Worlds by Henry Massie.

A fascinating account of a fascinating woman who bridged the Old World and the New in rather incredible ways and with admirable fortitude and courage. Well written and sets the tone and geography well in the mind of the reader. What a privilege to have known and to have been raised by Felice. A story well worth saving and sharing. This should be an encouragement to all to save and share their stories, each one unique, and valuable to the next and following generations. Well done, Hank and Bridget.
74 of 88 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Very inaccurate Jan. 31 2014
By S. Dunklin - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Both in the way that it describes Judaism and Islam along with the history of both is very poorly researched. There is no way that she could have gone to the school in Warsaw and known so little about Judaism, unless she were not a Jew. Mohammad did NOT receive the Koran on the Temple Mount. Jerusalem is never even mentioned in the Koran. Even as a work of fiction the research is very poorly done. No Muslim male child would stand to watch a woman wash, he would always turn away. There are fallacies on fallacies in this book, and it paints a distorted picture. By the way Orthodox Jewish women do not shave their heads rather they keep their heads covered, so that only their husbands delight in their hair.
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