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Memory: A Novel Hardcover – Deckle Edge, Feb 12 2008


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; 1 edition (Feb. 12 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 141655999X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416559993
  • Product Dimensions: 1.8 x 14.1 x 17.7 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 204 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,047,822 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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Most helpful customer reviews

Format: Paperback
Fiction? I think not...what a beautifully haunting story. From his earliest memory, the author is haunted by a feeling that he is not an only child...this book is so beautiful, mixing what we know to be history with the author's own life. A very memorable book, which I read in 2008, this story has stayed with me and I find myself thinking on it from time to time. A rare thing for a book to stay in my mind so long....winner of many awards in France and translated in English in 2008, sad yet beautiful...
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 15 reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
A Holocaust Story as Reflected in the Next Generation's Identity March 27 2008
By Steve Koss - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Philippe Grimbert's novella, MEMORY, might more aptly be titled, SELF-DISCOVERY. A best seller and multiple prize winner in France, this short and eminently readable tale recounts in fictional form the author's discovery of his Jewish identity (the family name had been carefully modified from Grinbert to Grimbert by his father) and that of his parents and the rest of his family. Heavily intertwined and propelling the family history of his parents' and grandparents was, of course, the story of Nazi Germany and Vichy France.

At the outset, Philippe is the 98-pound weakling son of parents Maxime and Tania, who are both paragons of physical beauty and athletic skill. Young Philippe sees ever-present disappointment in his father's eyes, so much so that he invents an imaginary and physically robust older brother as his protector. An incident in school during a classroom discussion of the Holocaust leads fifteen year old Philippe into a fight where he is beaten by a much larger classmate. As a result, the family's long-time friend, a woman named Louise, decides to reveal to Philippe the long and complex story of his unknown past.

Needless to say, that past is full of surpises and horrors, at least one of which is reminiscent of Styron's SOPHIE'S CHOICE. Philippe's parents are not entirely who he has believed they were, and he learns further about past family members whom he never knew existed. To say any more would be to reveal spoilers unnecessarily.

Grimbert's novella is neatly packaged, a chronological coming-of-age and coming-of-personal-awareness tale wrapped around Louise's account of the Grinberg/Grimbert family experiences during World War II. Dogs - real, stuffed toy, and buried in a pet cemetery - play a symbolic role in the story, as (perhaps a bit too neatly) does Maxime's and Tania's facility with diving.

One is tempted to argue that the same Holocaust story has been told many times before, just as the Cultural Revolution story from China has been recounted in so many different ways. What can be left still to say? Yet when all is said and done, MEMORY effectively adds another small chapter to the full story and reminds us once again of the devastating choices such horrors force upon both victims and perpetrators. Perhaps what makes this book different is that we see the Holocaust events one generation removed. Grimbert displays their after-effects as imposed on a young man who was not yet born during that turbulent era and who must view everything he learns through a lens that simultaneously informs who he is and corrects his beliefs about who and what he thought he was.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Memories, individual and collective March 11 2008
By David Light - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Grimbert's novella explores memory on at least two levels: through the narrator's retelling of his family's trauma during World War II and subsequently; and against the backdrop of the Vichy regime under the direction of Pierre Laval. France's shame for the latter is revealed in brief strokes; in a classroom, for example, in which teenaged children circa 1963 laugh (nervously? uncomprehendingly?) at a film that depicts broken bodies in one of the death camps; in a cemetery on Laval's former estate in which the family dogs have been lovingly buried.

These dogs stand in contrast to two dogs belonging to members of the narrator's family--one that is stuffed and is discovered hidden away in an attic; another, named Echo, who is killed by a car. The narrator, primarily through discussions with a family friend, pieces together the secret, or secrets, that haunt the family over the decades that follow the war.

At the heart of the book is a love story whose contours would merely be melancholy but common in a normal time; within its context, however, it takes on a tragic cast. That story propels the reader through this brief, affecting book.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
another take on the holocaust Aug. 11 2008
By M. J. Smith - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Philippe Grimbert's tale of French Jews who avoided deportation in WWII focuses attention on the destructive force of the holocaust on survivors - not death camp survivors but those survivors who found safety in unoccupied France. It is a story that, as a reader, one takes as biography rather than fiction because the emotions are so "spot on." Certainly the author's profession - psychiatrist - served him well.

To tell the family story, the events of WWII are portrayed as a family secret, revealed to the narrator as a 15-year-old. These missing pieces / family secrets further a coming of age theme; they also narrate a love story. But all that is secondary to the exploration of the effects of the holocaust on one extended family.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Searing Jan. 12 2010
By K. L. Cotugno - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
About half-way through this searing memory piece, I realized I had seen the movie based on the same story. It was no less haunting, powerful and sad. The movie, "A Secret," was like this book, based on Philippe Grimbert's devastating family history. So slim it can be read in a single sitting, yet it packs a punch stronger than many books twice its length.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Fabulous book July 16 2009
By Z. Lambacher - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is beautifully written, haunting, and a must-read for anyone interested in the Holocaust.

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