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Stones from the River School & Library Binding – Mar 1997

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Product Details

  • School & Library Binding: 525 pages
  • Publisher: Turtleback Books: A Division of Sanval; New title edition (March 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0613034090
  • ISBN-13: 978-0613034098
  • Product Dimensions: 20.7 x 13.9 x 3.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 644 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (279 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #3,387,805 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Amazon

Oprah Book Club® Selection, February 1997: Ursula Hegi's Stones from the River clamors for comparisons to Gunter Grass's The Tin Drum; her protagonist Trudi Montag--like the unforgettable Oskar Mazerath--is a dwarf living in Germany during the two World Wars. To its credit, Stones does not wilt from the comparison. Hegi's book has a distinctive, appealing flavor of its own. Stone's characters are off-center enough to hold your attention despite the inevitable dominance of the setting: There's Trudi's mother, who slowly goes insane living in an "earth nest" beneath the family house; Trudi's best friend Georg, whose parents dress him as the girl they always wanted; and, of course, Trudi herself, whose condition dooms her to long for an impossible normalcy. Futhermore, the reader's inevitable sympathy for Trudi, the dwarf, heightens the true grotesqueness of Nazi Germany. Stones from the River is a nightmare journey with an unforgettable guide. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Returning to Burgdorf, the small German community she memorably depicted in Floating in My Mother's Palm , Hegi captures the events and atmosphere in the country prior, during and after WW II. Again she has produced a powerful novel whose chilling candor and resonant moral vision serve a dramatic story. With a sure hand, Hegi evokes the patterns of small-town life, individualized here in dozens of ordinary people who display the German passion for order, obedience and conformity, enforced for centuries by rigid class differences and the strictures of the Catholic church. The protagonist is Trudi Montag, the Zwerg (dwarf) who becomes the town's librarian; (she and most of the other characters figured in the earlier book). A perennial outsider because of her deformity, Trudi exploits her gift for eliciting peoples' secrets--and often maliciously reveals them in suspenseful gossip. But when Hitler ascends to power, she protects those who have been kind to her, including two Jewish families who, despite the efforts of Trudi, her father and a few others, are fated to perish in the Holocaust. Trudi is a complex character, as damaged by her mother's madness and early death as she is by the later circumstances of her life, and she is sometimes cruel, vindictive and vengeful. It is fascinating to watch her mature, as she experiences love and loss and finds wisdom, eventually learning to live with the vast amnesia that grips formerly ardent Nazis after the war. One hopes that Hegi will continue to depict the residents of Burgdorf--Germany in microcosm--thus deepening our understanding of a time and place.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By TheIndianExpat on May 28 2004
Format: Paperback
Stones from the River deals with a heroine who is everything a heroine is not. She is a small sized person, a 'dwarf' as it were, not remarkably pretty and not truly bestowed with the milk of human kindness in all spheres like the heroines of romantic stories. Yet for me, she and the book are like a passionate love affair with life, feelings, honesty, brutality, beauty and redemption.
The book traces Trudi's growth from birth, seeing her mother turn crazy, her tribulations and triumphs due to her short stature. Trudi curses, abuses, gossips, has her insecurities, trades off her secrets and yet somehow you cant help admiring the gumption of this pint sized heroine. How she and her father help their Jewish friends during the holocaust, her wanton curiosity in luring men on the basis of false information, her tumultous inner world, her forthrightedness.
There are other players in the saga of Trudis stories...the unknown benefactor who blesses her town with strange gifts, the children of Trudi's youth who live out their own tableus, the lady who dresses her son as a girl, Leo, Trudi's father - truly a character to rival Atticus in To Kill a Mocking Bird. I think women will identify with the emotions that Trudi confesses to..the loss of a man, the strength of appearance, the solidariy of friends, the gain of ones esteem. Truly...a wonderful flowing river with enough beauty, like the stones in the river.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Shana McMahon on May 10 2004
Format: Paperback
Reading Ursula Hegi's book, Stones from a River, for the first time was excitingly moving. The book is told by Trudi Montag, a dwarf girl, a zwerg in a little town of Burgdorf, Germany. Trudi is isolated from the other people in town because of her physical difference. Trudi tells her story of her life and brings you through her struggles and high points and you travel with her feeling her pain and her happiness. But, it is because of Trudi's difference that she matures and learns about other people. Trudi becomes wise, and sees that she knows other people better than she knows herself. Trudi up holds her self values, especially when at a time during World War II when you did not have a choice. Trudi held true to her values and was very strong willed in what she believed in. During this horrible time in history she shapes who she is by reacting to the war and the persecution of people who were different around her. Trudi telling about her life keeps you intrigued and always wanting to read more. The story was compelling and a good construal of history. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves an excellent story to read with history in it.
Shana McMahon, a student at Mercy High School
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Patricia T. on May 25 2003
Format: Paperback
"Stones from the River" is almost perfect. The opening is too slow (it took me over 100 pages to really get "into" this novel) but it was well worth the effort. Based in the history of post WWI and steeped in the reign of Hitler, the novel reveals a facet of life within Germany at this time; told from the German viewpoint. As with Thomas More, the "silence means consent" postion led to disastrous consequences for Germany, and underscores the Jewish position of never being silent again. It speaks to "How could this happen?" and reminds all of us that the value of free speech need never be underestimated. All of this is portrayed via the characters in one small German town. Who they were before, how Hitler influenced them, who they became, and how they ended, all unfold here. A study in human nature, in the politics of economics, in individual resilience...all studies played out before the perpetual Rhine.
The opening is too slow, the ending too long, but the message too important. READ THIS BOOK! It's almost perfect.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By liane gutman on July 10 2002
Format: Paperback
The much acclaimed Stones from the River left me with unanswered questions. I was uncomfortable with the idea that a female dwarf and central character, Trudi Montag, managed to live through the Nazi period safe and sound. We must recall Josef Mengele, the infamous Nazi doctor who experimenced not only with twins, but also with dwarfs, giants, and other such samplings. At one point, Mengele is said to have "welcome" an entire family of dwarfs for his nefarious experimenta (see Nazi Doctors, by Robert Jay Lifton, 1986). Yet Trudi Montag's continued existence is not in the least questionedby Ursula Hegi.
True enough, this is a work of fiction,but how much can a writer stretch fiction and thereby distort reality?
As a former Jewish refugee from Nazi Germany, I object, for example, to Hegi's reference to the widespread demolition of Jewish property (p.262, pb) without pinpointing that this marked the outbreak of Kristallnacht, of November 9/10, 1938, the cataclysmic pogrom that swept through Nazi Germany. She does use the term subsequently (p.310), but the average reader should not be expected to connect the two events.
As a translator, I rebuff Hegi's faulty English rendering of German 'kinderreich' translated several times as 'child rich' when in fact it means 'fertile.' This is about the worst of several other mistranslations in the book. When in doubt, Ursula Hegi, consult a translator, although doubt is evidently not one of your priorities.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By EditorKatie on Oct. 20 2003
Format: Paperback
I read books during my 30-minute lunch break at work, and I sped through this novel, always wanting to sit for longer than those 30 minutes each day! Hegi weaves a beautiful story that made me laugh out loud, even cry at times. The characters are wonderful, and Hegi's descriptions really put you in early 20th-century Burgdorf. She also does a good job of weaving connections that support the themes like storytelling and individuality/differences as beauty.
Reading the back cover before reading the novel actually made me wonder if I would like it, but I'm glad I did read it; the cover just does not do the book justice.
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