Book Review of
A Bookshop In Berlin
In 1921, Françoise Frenkel—a Jewish woman from Poland—fulfills a dream. She opens La Maison du Livre, Berlin’s first French bookshop, attracting artists and diplomats, celebrities and poets. The shop becomes a haven for intellectual exchange as Nazi ideology begins to poison the culturally rich city. In 1935, the scene continues to darken. First come the new bureaucratic hurdles, followed by frequent police visits and book confiscations.
Françoise’s dream finally shatters on Kristallnacht in November 1938, as hundreds of Jewish shops and businesses are destroyed. La Maison du Livre is miraculously spared, but fear of persecution eventually forces Françoise on a desperate, lonely flight to Paris. When the city is bombed, she seeks refuge across southern France, witnessing countless horrors: children torn from their parents, mothers throwing themselves under buses. Secreted away from one safe house to the next, Françoise survives at the heroic hands of strangers risking their lives to protect her.
Published quietly in 1945, then rediscovered nearly sixty years later in an attic, A Bookshop in Berlin is a remarkable story of survival and resilience, of human cruelty and human spirit. In the tradition of Suite Française and The Nazi Officer’s Wife, this book is the tale of a fearless woman whose lust for life and literature refuses to leave her, even in her darkest hours.
My daughter picked out A Bookshop In Berlin for me when we went on a book date at Christmas time. She knew that it was about a book shop and thought it was the perfect book to get me. It was a great book to get me. I had never heard of it, but loved the idea of a book about a bookstore during WWII.
I enjoyed this book, but it wasn’t at all like I expected it to be. The bookshop isn’t really the focus of the book at all. Very little of the book is about the bookshop. The book is about the bookshop owner as she losing her bookshop in Berlin. It follows her as she travels from Berlin to France and eventually Switzerland to find freedom.
The book covers a lot about the life of wealthy people during WWII. I hadn’t read a lot on that side of WWII, so I did find that interesting. Françoise Frenkel story is interesting as it covers all that she had to deal with to find freedom in countries that were not her own. It took strength, courage, and determination.
However, I thought the writing of the book was lacking. I think that is due to the type of book that it is. The book was originally published in 1945. It was then found sixty years later and republished. So it isn’t written like many nonfiction WWII books today are written. If you love reading about different aspects and stories of WWII though I think that you will enjoy this one.