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A Sea Change [Kindle Edition]

Michael Arditti
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £8.99
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Book Description

In May 1939, the S.S. St Louis left Hamburg for Havana carrying almost a thousand refugees from Hitler’s Germany. Over the following weeks, the ship criss-crossed the ocean, buffeted alternately by hope and disappointment, as it sought asylum in a friendly port and war drew inexorably closer. Based on actual events, Michael Arditti’s enthralling new novel is the memoir of one of the passengers, fifteen-year-old Karl, heir to a department-store fortune. In later life he recalls both the horror and excitement of the trip, along with his personal voyage of discovery, as he learns the truth about his family, battles Nazi crew members and plans a mutiny, and describes his first, passionate love affair with the beautiful young Johanna. A brilliant historical recreation, a captivating account of a Jewish boy’s coming-of-age and a tender love-story, A Sea Change is a profound and beautifully written novel by one of the country’s most original writers.

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Product Description

Rose Tremain

‘Brilliant use of a momentous journey . . . A gripping and adroit fusion of history with personal drama'

Edna O'Brien

‘A moving and heartening story in which spirit triumphs over political barbarity’

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 549 KB
  • Print Length: 300 pages
  • Publisher: Maia Press (28 Sept. 2006)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0071B6WIU
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #123,196 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Michael Arditti is a novelist, short story writer and critic. His novels are The Celibate (1993), Pagan and her Parents - Pagan's Father in the USA (1996), Easter (2000), Unity (2005), A Sea Change (2006), The Enemy of the Good (2009), Jubilate (2011) and The Breath of Night (2013). His short story collection, Good Clean Fun was published in 2004. He was awarded a Harold Hyam Wingate scholarship in 2000, a Royal Literary Fund fellowship in 2001, an Oppenheim-John Downes memorial award in 2003, and Arts Council awards in 2004 and 2007. He was the Leverhulme artist in residence at the Freud museum in 2008. His novels have been short- and long-listed for several literary awards and Easter won the inaugural Waterstone's Mardi Gras award. In 2012 he was awarded an Honorary DLitt by the University of Chester.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a moving coming of age drama 3 Oct. 2006
I am a huge fan of Arditti's earlier book, Easter. This is very different in tone, but carries the same tenderness and subtlety. It's told from the point of view of an old man recalling a key period when he transformed from spoiled boy to young man during the sea voyage to Havana on the SS St Louis to escape Nai Germany. The awkward, pleased-with-himself boy Karl leaves with his dysfunctional family just in time to escape the Holocaust. As his bar mitzvah appraoches, he is sidetracked by love, and the journey becomes a metaphor for the larger notion of redemption. This is a a rites-of-passage story told with grace, wit and enormous subtlety, which will appeal to Jews and non-Jews alike.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Though provoking and powerful 25 July 2007
One of the best things about A Sea Change is how the author fits fact and fiction together like a hand in a glove. Ardittis weaving together of the true journey of the SS St Louis as it transported Jewish refugees out of Germany, and the fictional 'autobiography' of a young passengers journey from 'boy to man' while on board is masterly. It is almost as if he wrote a fictional story and the true events just happened mirror it!

The book emulates wonderfully the humiliation, prejudice and degradation that the passengers were subjected to while resisting the temptation to give an all Jews good - all Germans bad image. Indeed the Judaism is mainly a tool to develop characters and to link in with the St Louis journey rather than an essential part of the boys story.

A word of warning though. There are some parts where you do need to suspend disbelieve, the gallantry of the captain being an example. Also the synopsis describes mutinies and battles with Nazis but these incidents are short and play a very small part in the story which is far from action-packed. This may be a disappointment to some readers.

The middle of the book can get a little slow as the story mirrors the ships tiresome journey across the open sea. To some this will be a little frustrating but to others will contribute to the experience of the book as the reader shares the expectation and imagination of what is to come with the passengers on the ship.

The final chapter in which the author explains what happened to other character over the coming years is wonderfully moving and is well worth reading the whole book for even if for some reason the story itself does not capture your imagination.

If you have any sort of a heart and like it to be rendered once in a while read this book!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A gem 7 Dec. 2006
I am much reminded of the style of William Woodruff in this book. A brilliant mind, with an almost faultless recollection of past experience. I was totally enthralled by it. Such a compelling piece of narrative history. The images Arditti has created for me are quite concrete, and I am sure will be the stuff of my own dreams, (but hopefully, not of nightmares).
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
By Amanda Craig HALL OF FAME
Based on a real-life voyage from Nazi Germany to Havana in 1939, The Sea Change is the "memoir" of Karl. As heir to a fortune, he begins as a spoilt, self-conscious young aesthete and, in the course of the voyage, becomes a man - falling in love with the beautiful Johanna, becoming reconciled to his father, battling Nazi crew members and eventually having his bar mitzvah. By turns funny, insightful, moving and tragic, this is the best novel Arditti has written so far - sacrificng none of his intellectual brilliance or interest in religion while telling a story about a boy, his family and his people that everybody will be touched by. Like Philip Roth crossed with Kate Atkinson, it's as readable as it is profound.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exceptional writing 21 Sept. 2012
By Benjamin TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Based on an actual event, the sailing of the SS St Louis from Hamburg in 1939 with nearly a thousand Jewish refuges escaping Hitler's Germany, A Sea Change follows one families plight as told by fifteen year old Karl.

Karl is the grandson and heir of a very wealthy prestigious Berlin department store owner. Along with his grandfather Karl sails with his mother (his father has been absent for eight years), his younger sister and an 'adopted' aunt as well as an 'adopted' older sister.

Karl, now in his seventies, recalls the events of the voyage as he records if for the benefit of his own grandchildren. He describes the situation in Germany before their escape and then details the various happenings as they cross the Atlantic to Havana, the difficulties they encounter on arrival and the subsequent events. Along the way Karl learns much about his own family, has one or two run-ins with the few Nazis assigned to the crew, befriends the sympathetic ship's captain, and experiences his first real love in the form of the beautiful young Johanna.

A sea change is a most engaging account at times moving and tragic, and with plenty of drama. Karl is a likeable boy verging on young manhood, prone to the errors of impetuous youth, he learns quickly and proves himself worthy. The writing is impeccable, the prose flows with such beauty and ease it is a joy to read.
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By Richard Brown TOP 1000 REVIEWER
This wartime novel, written in the form of a memoir by a seventy-five year old German, Jewish Oxford Professor of Philosophy, for his three grandchildren, was based on true events. Arditti acknowledges that the basic facts of the story are taken from an account of the voyage of a liner ship, the 'St Louis', which contained nine hundred Jews fleeing from Nazi Germany just before the war. It was on its way to Cuba, a staging post for the USA, but after a month's sailing it was refused permission to dock and was sent back to Europe. The passengers feared they would be returned to Germany; in the event, at the last minute, several European countries grudgingly agreed to take them in.

That's the historical context. In fact, this is a coming-of-age story, told through the eyes of 15 year old Karl, whose rich middle-class family have lost everything in Germany as they escape from the Nazis but have wealthy connections in America. The six weeks Karl spends on board act like a microcosm of life, transforming him from a rather wilful, thoughtless boy into a man. He suffers the death of a close family member who's buried at sea; he has to get to grips with an apparently weak father who has been absent for much of his life; he falls in love with a girl on board and has his first sexual experiences; he clashes with Nazis thugs and gets roughed up; he forms a relationship with a fair-minded, compassionate Captain; he engages with a strange character called Sendal who, a little mad, likens himself to the Wandering Jew; he joins an aborted mutiny; and he has a belated bar mitzvah which symbolises the changes within him. Like many adolescents, he's impulsive, quick to make judgements on others; fool-hardy, adventurous, loving, gullible but intelligent, a character that's well-rounded and easy to like.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A tale of growing up and the harsh lessons that life can bestow on you...
This is such a well written book, full of pathos. Some of the angst of the narrator reminded me of experiences from my own adolescence. Thank you for such a good book.
Published 16 months ago by Tony Doyle
5.0 out of 5 stars Snowdrops in the green
plants arrived in time and in good condition. Well packaged. If I could only get some decent weather to plant them, everything would be ok
Published 17 months ago by Willie K.
4.0 out of 5 stars An absorbing read
Once you get past the first couple of pages the story unfolds, drawing you along with it. A honest narrator telling a tale of many emotions.
Published 17 months ago by thisstarchild
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting
Based on a true incident in 1938 of a boat load of German Jews fleeing to Cuba only to be sent back and the effect on the teenage narrator of the story
Published 17 months ago by Dons83
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful humanitarian story
I am very interested in history especially anything to do with injustice to humanity. I liked the fact that the narrator was telling the story to his young family and the honesty... Read more
Published 18 months ago by Cory D.
4.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating story
This story was fascinating; I loved it. The style of the novel was fast moving and the characters utterly credible.
Published 18 months ago by maggiedav
5.0 out of 5 stars A CRACKING GOOD READ
Published 18 months ago by Molly S
3.0 out of 5 stars An interesting read
A pleasant read. It was a bit slow but enough to keep me interested, not a page turner but I enjoyed my read
Published 18 months ago by Y. M. Somerville
5.0 out of 5 stars A cruise with a difference.
A memorable story of the exodus from Nazi Germany in 1939, of over a thousand Jews. People who for generations had believed themselves to be Germans, until the ruling regime... Read more
Published 18 months ago by para3drop
4.0 out of 5 stars A voyage of a lifetime
A poignant and noteworthy read, giving a rather different perspective to the months just before the second world war,, and an interesting insight to the escape from Germany that... Read more
Published 19 months ago by Gill-EJ
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