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Playing for Time [Paperback]

Fania Fenelon , Marcelle Routier , Judith Landry
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

31 Dec 1997
In 1943, Fania Fenelon was a Paris cabaret singer, a secret member of the Resistance, and a Jew. Captured by the Nazis, she was sent to Auschwitz where she became one of the legendary "orchestra girls" who used music to survive the Holocaust. Playing for Time is her personal account of that incredible experience. It is one of the most powerful -- and true -- stories of our time.


Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Syracuse University Press; New edition edition (31 Dec 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0815604947
  • ISBN-13: 978-0815604945
  • Product Dimensions: 20.4 x 14.2 x 1.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 128,198 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
I read this book a number of years ago. It left an indelible mark. It is the story of women survivors in a concentration camp. They literally "played for time," with musical instruments. The movie "Life is Beautiful" brought this book to mind this week. That is why I looked it up. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in reading about courage in the face of adversity. The remarkable will to survive demonstrated by the women portrayed in this book is inspiring and unforgettable.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  12 reviews
44 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Playing for Time 29 Nov 1999
By Jessica A. - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Playing for Time, a grade-A book by Fania Fenelon, is a document not only about the Holocaust, but one that goes deeper: it shows how music brought redemption of spirit in the Hell of Hells. When Fania and her friend are brought to the death camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau, she is recognized by a girl in the camp's orchestra as a Parisian caberet singer. She is accepted in to the orchestra, where she is forced to sing the opera Madame Butterfly for the SS. Fania does not let the hardships of the camp take over her spirit, though. She uses music as a weapon, and, as an orchestrator as well as singer for the group, she orchestrates marches by Jews and anti-Nazis right under the noses of her captors, who never catch on. Fania's love of music allows her to survive Auschwitz, and when she is sent with the rest of the "Orchestra Girls" to Bergen-Belsen near the end of the war, her passion for life pulls her through a severe case of typhus. One day she learns that the Nazis are going to shoot the prisoners of Bergen-Belsen at 3:00 that afternoon. The English arrive at the camp at 11:00 that same morning. Fania just barely survived the war, and afterwards she returned to Paris and started again as a caberet singer. She died of cancer in her hometown in 1983. Playing for Time teaches us many things. It teaches us that the human spirit cannot be killed. It teaches us that good always wins over evil. And it teaches us that if you have a love, stick to it. One day it might just save your life.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Perfect Book 6 Jan 2002
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This is an absolutely incredible book. An already powerful story it is taken to a new level by the constant reminder that this is first hand experience.
It is perfect for nearly anyone, the musician will relate to the music, the historian to the accuracy and the avid reader will simply latch on and be unable to let go.
It brought tears to my eyes.
16 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars this is a book about courage and the will to live. 3 Jan 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I read this book a number of years ago. It left an indelible mark. It is the story of women survivors in a concentration camp. They literally "played for time," with musical instruments. The movie "Life is Beautiful" brought this book to mind this week. That is why I looked it up. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in reading about courage in the face of adversity. The remarkable will to survive demonstrated by the women portrayed in this book is inspiring and unforgettable.
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible story. 13 April 2014
By DWinston - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
If you're unfamiliar with this title, check out the movie first with Vanessa Redgrave giving one of the best acting performances I've ever seen. Then read the book and it fills in so much more in the way of depth and candor. I highly recommend this book and the movie of the same title.
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful Story... 26 Oct 2013
By Book Lover - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I bought this book years ago, but since no one has ever reviewed it, I figured I would give it a go. My first exposure to the Holocaust was watching the made for TV film PLAYING FOR TIME at the age of nine years old when it aired on HBO. The movie was so haunting that it has stayed with me for thirty years and led to me trying to get my hands on the copy of the DVD for years. When I found it available I bought the book as well. The book isn't necessarily well written, but because it's real and from the heart it kind of places you in the moment as though you were truly there. She tells the story from her point of view entirely and you also have to realize that it is biased. Her personality does come shining through in the story and although she does have a good heart she is a bit self centered and tends to glorify herself a bit. A lot of the survivors have disputed her account, and that's very realistic as well, because if you told a story about your workplace including all the good and bad that you saw in others from your perspective, they wouldn't agree with it. And they'd probably have a different, less flattering perspective about you, too. I've done a lot of writing without saying what the story is about...basically, Fania Fenelon is living in Paris as somewhat of a B celebrity as a popular singer in nightclubs. Although she is half Jewish, she is non practicing and has never identified herself as Jewish until she is caught working with the French Underground. Suddenly nothing but her ethnicity matters and she's shipped to Auschwitz where she meets another woman, Clara, who has found herself in similar circumstances. When Fania is recognized by members of the Auschwitz women's orchestra, she is plucked from the barracks and brings Clara with her which basically is a twist of fate that saves both their lives. How their dire circumstances change them as people is one of the main focuses of the book. As I said before, apparently Fania had a very rosy view of herself and a very critical view of others, which is a complaint many of her fellow survivors had made about this memoir. That sort of does come through...you can tell that she's not as perfect as she portrays herself as, but it's a very absorbing read nonetheless.
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