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Life with a Star (Penguin Modern Classics) Paperback – 31 Jan 2002


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Paperback, 31 Jan 2002
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Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd; Revised edition edition (31 Jan. 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 014118695X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141186955
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 1.4 x 19.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 187,955 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Jiri Weil was a major Czech writer in the 1930s but is most widely known today of his two postwar works LIFE WITH A STAR and MENDELSOHN IS ON THE ROOF. In 1942 he was summoned for transport to a concentration camp with the rest of Prague Jewry but managed to escape and hide for the duration of the war. He died in Prague in 1959.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By L. Davidson VINE VOICE on 26 April 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
"Life with a Star" is the second book by the Czech author Jiri Weil that I have read this year , having recently finished the excellent "Mendelssohn is on the Roof". This book tells the fascinating and sad tale of the life of a middle aged Jewish man called Josef during the Nazi occupation of Prague in the Second World War. Josef is almost totally alone in life , bereft of family and friends and he merely has an existence rather than a life. He lives on his own in a shabby , run down garrett on the city outskirts and he reminisces about a lost love throughout the book and takes solace in the company of a stray cat whom he takes in. Through Josef's eyes, the reader gets to know what it was like to be a Jew in Prague at that time ; oppressed by petty regulations ,discrimination and dispossession and haunted by the prospect of being called up for one of the regular "transports" of Jews to "the East", which the reader knows is death by gas at Auschwitz. We share in Josef's mundane existence and I felt sorry for this bewildered , sad and lonely man who puts up with his degradations stoically. Can he avoid the ominous prospect of being called up for a "transport" ? Can he find any meaning or enjoyment in his daily existence ? This book is well written and it is narrated in an unemotive , matter of fact manner by an author who has depicted this appalling period of European history in a very sensitive and enlightened way. An ideal book for anyone wanting to get a flavour of what life was like for Jews at this time and I would recommend "Mendelssohn is on the Roof" to anybody who enjoyed this book. It's even better than "Life with a Star".
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By John Hopper TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 26 Jan. 2015
Format: Paperback
This is an unusual Holocaust novel, written by a Czech Jew who survived by faking his own death in 1942 and living in hiding for the rest of the war. It doesn't mention the words Jews, Nazi or Germans, but adopts an other-worldly anonymous atmosphere that gets the message of oppression across very effectively (a literary device also employed by Arthur Koestler in Darkness at Noon and Arrival and Departure). The central character Josef Roubicek's life becomes more and more limited as restrictions on Jews' work, life, and movement become ever stricter, contrasted with the lives of plenty and (relative) luxury being enjoyed by the non-Jewish population. Roubicek survives when around him fellow Jews are being rounded up and sent away to the "fortress town" or transported to the East. This is a depressing and sombre novel, not only because of the intrinsic subject matter, but also because of the writing style, including Roubicek's internal dilemma about whether to bother continuing the struggle to survive or rather to surrender himself to his fate, and the ending is rather ambiguous - though one assumes Roubicek will survive in the same way as did the real author, as this has been hinted at earlier in conversations with the only named non-Jewish character, Josef Materna.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By JPWilliams on 13 Feb. 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
As per other (more articulate) reviewers, this truly is an outstanding book. Utterly horrific, made all the more so by the outwardly unemotive way he refers to his persecutors. For anyone with even a passing interest in WW2 this is a true "must read".
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By R. M. Greenfield on 18 Jan. 2013
Format: Paperback
What can I say about a book that is so utterly moving, thoroughly compelling, and deeply disturbing - evoking the barbaric horrors of the Holocaust... The author with his astonishing and simplistic narrative, has truly captured the essence of the vilest horrors befalling the Jewish race at the hands of the merciless, murderous, and TOTALLY immoral Nazis', who incidentally are emotively only referred to as THEM or THEY etc in the narrative. I became totally engrossed in the protagonist's (hopeless) plight at the hands of a regime HELL-BENT on wiping out THE entire Jewish population of Europe, and beyond if they could... As the previous reviewer so rightly states: 'Life With a Star' should unequivocally be a STANDARD on every school curriculum throughout the world. I particular was moved by the humility and tenaciousness of the leading character - who SOMEHOW maintained his dignity to the very END. This book stirred me beyond tears, however the protagonist's release still left me with an innate HOPE for the human race... The RACIST tragedy of this novel could befall ANY particular 'race' or 'group' at any time in our volatile mad world - but MUST never be allowed to EVER, EVER happen again!!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By JS on 3 April 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is an eye opener. It tells the story of a Jew's survival during the Second World War in a completely original and unsentimental way, and without ever mentioning the words 'Nazi' or 'German'. It is powerful, moving, shocking and ironic. A stunning read.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Fantastic sad and moving story, had me in tears! I couldn't put it down. Factual story built into a tale of fiction.
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By elaine on 5 May 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A wonderful book. Perhaps explains more than any other more factual account, how a Jew would have felt during the second world war. Totally absorbing.
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