Stones from the River Hardcover – Large Print, Aug 1 1997
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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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Top Customer Reviews
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.
Shana McMahon, a student at Mercy High School
The opening is too slow, the ending too long, but the message too important. READ THIS BOOK! It's almost perfect.
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.
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.
Most recent customer reviews
Stones was slow to get going until I understood where the book was going and then had a hard time putting it down. Read morePublished 17 months ago by jeffercookie
Absolutely remarkable, can't recommend it highly enough. Particularly of interest for those who observe and monitor the insidious nature of gradual and passive compliance with... Read morePublished 19 months ago by spider queen
book was very interesting - detailed a lot of unknow history and unknown facts to me - a book I would recommend to friendsPublished on Nov. 27 2012 by Sven P. Wilcke
I read this book because I enjoyed some of Hegi's short stories in Hotel of the Saints. I'm wondering now if they were written by different people. Read morePublished on July 5 2004
This book made me a fan of Ursula Heggi. What a great writer with a gift for human interest. Beginning in pre-Nazi Germany, this story ends after the war and focuses on the... Read morePublished on June 26 2004 by M. Alther
If you are reading all these 5-star reviews, be aware that not everyone out there found this book "superb" or "spellbinding" or any such nonesense. Read morePublished on June 25 2004 by Amazon Customer
I have owned this book for 6 years. I have picked up this book a dozen time- if not more- and I could never get past the first page. Read morePublished on May 26 2004
Ursula Hegi's "Stones from the River" is a very touching novel about a zwerge (dwarf) girl, Trudi, who lives in Burgdorf, Germany. Read morePublished on May 14 2004 by Emilie
Stones from the River by Usula Heigi focuses on the life of a dwarf in Germany during the Nazi occupation. Read morePublished on May 9 2004