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The Beautiful Mrs. Seidenman (Andrze Szczypiorski) [Paperback]

Andrzej Szczypiorski
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

21 Mar 1997 Andrze Szczypiorski
In the Nazi-occupied Warsaw of 1943, Irma Seidenman, a young Jewish widow, possesses two attributes that can spell the difference between life and death: she has blue eyes and blond hair. With these, and a set of false papers, she has slipped out of the ghetto, passing as the wife of a Polish officer, until one day an informer spots her on the street and drags her off to the Gestapo. At times a dark lament, at others a sly and sardonic thriller, The Beautiful Mrs. Seidenman is the story of the thirty-six hours that follow Irma's arrest and the events that lead to her dramatic rescue as the last of Warsaw's Jews are about to meet their deaths in the burning ghetto.


Product details

  • Paperback: 204 pages
  • Publisher: Avalon Travel Publishing; 1st Grove Press Pbk Ed edition (21 Mar 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802135021
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802135025
  • Product Dimensions: 13.9 x 1.7 x 20.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,313,372 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very personal insight to Warsaw in WWII 25 Feb 2010
By Dennis
Format:Paperback
This book is beautifully simple in its style, yet this does not take away from the story in any way at all. It gives a unique insight into the lives of so many characters in Warsaw during German occupation. Very personal, very ordinary, yet at the same time it does not ignore the bigger picture of telling the story of the city as a whole. It does not focus on the protagonist alone, as the title might suggest. While she is the centre of attention in parts of the story, the focus is very often on those around her, and can branch off in a tangent to tell the story of one of her neighbours, or to tell of the fate of a young Jewish man. There are also some interesting jumps forward to the future of some characters who survive the war, only to become citizens on the new communist Poland. A very interesting read for anyone with an interest in the personal histories of WWII.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read this book 7 Mar 2011
Format:Hardcover
Beautifully written. Each chapter introduces a different aspect of the same story. We hear the characters' internal contemplation on existence, death and time making it an intensely personalised view of Warsaw in 1940s. The narrative moves omnipotently forward and backward through time, making comparisons between this story and later 20th century tragedies leaning the book a real sense of lose and poignancy.
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Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  13 reviews
22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, poignant book 7 Jun 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I bought two copies of this book years ago so I could share it with a good friend and have someone to talk to about this wonderful, disturbing story. Sad to say, she's yet to read it. I've read it three times over the years and am moved and haunted still by the realism of the characters and their struggles for dignity and life. One day, I'll meet someone else who has read this book, and over a long cafe break, we'll discuss the imagery, the painful courage of the protagonists, and the latter day realities the Holocaust has left behind . . . . .
26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A poignant account of wartime as experienced by the innocent 19 Dec 1997
By jdoherty@student.flint.umich.edu - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The American perception of life during World War Two is cast in images of women working, doing jobs traditionally reserved for men, of busy factories, constantly turning out munitions of war, ration books, victory gardens, and pictures of heroic looking young men in uniform occupying places of honor on walls, mantelpieces, and end tables all over America. The reality and horror of war was far away - not so for Mrs. Irma Seidenman.
Andrzej Szczypiorski's The Beautiful Mrs. Seidenman is a novel set in Nazi-occupied Poland during WW II. Born in Warsaw in 1924, Mr. Szczypiorski fought in the Polish Resistance, took part in the Warsaw uprising in 1944, and served time in a German concentration camp. Drawing on his wartime experience, Szczypiorski assembles a montage of characters struggling for survival in wartime Warsaw, cleverly knitting their experiences within the lives of his main characters, Pawelek Kry ski and Irma Seidenman.
Mrs. Seidenman had been a neighbor of the Kry skis before the war. A beautiful Nordic looking woman, Irma has been able to elude the Nazis, dodging the fate of the rest of Warsaw's Jewish community. Irma possesses two crucial attributes, blue eyes and blonde hair, that have, with the help of forged papers, established her as Mrs. Maria Magdalena Grotomska, the widow of a Polish Army officer. With the help of Pawelek, who is obviously in love with her, she has been able to blend in with the rest of the Polish population, until one fateful day, when she rounds the corner of a Warsaw building and comes face to face with Bronek Blutman. Blutman is a Nazi toady, a nefarious Jew who is surviving by fingering Warsaw Jews who have escaped the Nazi net.
Using the narration of Mrs. Seidenman's rescue, Szczypiorski, interjects the lives of a collage of Warsaw's inhabitants caught up in the terror of the Nazi occupation. His prose successfully instills the sense of despair felt by Pawelek's friend Henio as he decides to return to the ghetto. It is through Szczypiorski's eloquence, we experience the dignity of judge Kujawski and the conniving tactics of Lolo, we pity the Jewish lawyer Fichtelbaum and hate the consciencelessness of the Gestapo officer Stuckler.
Szczypiorski's novel exposes the American audience to a harsher reality of the War. His vignettes draw a poignant picture of individual responses to the Nazi terror in an easily readable style that transports the reader into the lives of his characters. The Beautiful Mrs. Seidenman is an enlightening account of the War experience viewed from the perspectives of the many innocents trapped in its inhumanity.
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Not So Simple Tale 9 Mar 2003
By Dana - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The Beautiful Mrs. Seidenman is one of the most beautifully written novels I have ever read. The author deftly weaves together several people's lives which converge during the same time period. There are no distilled characterizations of heroes or demons; rather, fairly ordinary and yet complex people who are trying to figure out how to live and survive in Nazi occupied Warsaw. To further exemplify how ordinary the characters are, Szczypiorski projects each person into their future to let the reader know what will become of him or her. This can be an artifical plot device but in this case, it is highely effecting. Moreover, it does not take the reader so much out of the present, rather it helps one to better undertand the complexity of each character--no matter how "simple" he or she may seem. This is a very full reading experience. It is thought provoking, affect laden and a really well told story. I highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in the Holocaust and/or Poland.
19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best books I have ever read. 13 May 1999
By Lucian Wencel lwencel@karen.com.pl - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The book is about the human side of each of us. It is about the inner feelings, fears and desires. The catalyst is the danger of living in the wartime Poland. The holocaust that brings the worst and the greatest in people. It is also about the passage of time. Time is the great equalizer. In the end it does not matter; the horrors and the happines, the crimes and the heroism. The book is very truthfull. Author knows how to reach the depths of ones soul. One of the best books I have ever read.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great literature 21 Oct 2003
By "marlowe64" - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I just finished reading this book aloud to my wife. "Beautifully written" would be too little praise for this piece of fine literature. I found it reminiscent of Tolstoy at his best, but it stands on it's own. Andrzej Szczypiorski tells the story, not of Mrs. Seidenman, but of humanity. The only thing that I can compare this book to is the film "Decalogue" by his fellow Pole Krystof Kieslowski. It is full of, how shall I put it?, perhaps "tenderness" for the plight, and the beauty, of people with all of their humanity. Like Tolstoy, he does it without sentimentality and allows us to see beyond the surface of each character. And, also like Tolstoy, he does so with words, sentences, paragraphs, that seem to flow effortlessly.
Do not be decieved that this is merely a novel "about" the holocaust, or Poland, or Catholicism. It is about people. From the sympathetic whore who gives shelter to a desperate Jewish boy to the Nazi who orders the deaths of Jews. We discover that neither the whore nor the Nazi could have done anything other than what they did.
A wonderful writer. A wonderful book. Not just a good read but a great experience.
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