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The Invisible Wall Paperback – 1 Nov 2007


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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Arrow (1 Nov. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099504286
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099504283
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.1 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 386,386 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"An exceptional book" (Guardian)

"A compelling narrative of childhood survival ... the tale has a freshness, a vitality and a relentless energy ... extraordinarily powerful. The Invisible Wall is a triumph of the human spirit over multi-faceted adversity." (Daily Mail)

"Extraordinary ... spare, uncomplicated, and terribly vivid for it" (Independent)

"[A] heart-wrenching memoir ... the setting, beautifully rendered, recalls early DH Lawrence. It is a world of pain and prejudice, evoked in spare, restrained prose that brilliantly illuminates a time, a place and a family struggling valiantly to beat impossible odds. As an emotional experience and a vivid retelling of the author's past, it exerts uncommon power." (New York Times)

"A remarkable memoir ... vivid, compassionate and notably unsentimental" (Times Literary Supplement)

Book Description

An extraordinary portrait of a lost world - powerful, moving and utterly unforgettable...

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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Graeme Simpson on 13 Feb. 2007
Format: Hardcover
This is a wonderful book. It works on at least four levels: it is a gripping autobiographical account of growing up in a northern town in the early 1900s; it is an intensely moving love story; it hammers home the stupidity of the way we have allowed meaningless religious differences between us to affect the way we treat each other; and it makes us realise that, in this regard at least, we have learned nothing in the last 100 years. I could not put it down ... it is the best read I've had in years.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Scots Lass on 14 April 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Harry Bernstein was born in 1910 and this book tells his story of growing up in an industrial town in the North of England. The youngest child, Harry has two sisters, academic Lily and waspish Rose, two brothers, Saul and Harry as well as a loving mother - and a sullen drunk for a father.

The prominent issue in this book is the fact that the street in which Harry and his family reside is divided along religeous lines - Jews on one side, Christians on the other - with next to no interaction between the two sides, despite the similarities of their lives and even their work. Although the grinding poverty in which the family struggle to survive is detailed thoroughly, the individuals in the family are prominent to the story, none more that Lily - whose chance to go to Grammar school on a scholarship hinges on her mother persauding her oaf of a husband to sign a consent form. Sister Rose is discontented with life and sees the hand to mouth existence of her family for what it is - no amount of bravado from her mother will cause Rose to think fondly of her life. Harry follows in the wake of his brothers as they encounter playground battles with the Christian children and day to day insults from adults who should have known better.

There is humour in the book all the same. Harry is a completely innocent go-between for an invalid girl and her would-be beau (the notes you can pass in a bottle of ginger beer!) but love across the religeous divide is more than either side can accept, and, although the first World War causes the women on both sides to mourn their losses together, the barriers cannot be completely torn down.

I am no fan of "misery memoirs" as a style of book but this tale is so gripping, tragic and yet courageous that it is almost impossible to put down.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By B. K on 11 April 2009
Format: Paperback
I have just finished reading this book "The Invisible Wall" and found it fascinating.The story strengthens as it progresses. I recognise some of the characters from personal experiences. The book depicts very well the atmoshphere of religious divide and suspicion on either side of the invisible wall between Christians and Jews, brought about in part by the poverty endemic during and after the first world war. The atmosphere in the street in which they live really brings the characters to life.
I have just started the second book, "The Dream" by the same author and hope it gives me as much pleasure as did the first.

BK Glasgow
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By morganyossarian on 1 July 2010
Format: Paperback
This is so fresh.
It feels as though it was written days after the events took place, by the four year old boy in the book, full of energy and enthusiasm and wonderment at all of the developments going on around him, not 90 years later, by an old man for whom time must surely have muted the excitement and drama of youth.

Harry Bernstein's great achievement here, is that whilst it is a wonderful autobiography of turn of the century industrial England, what really stands out are his family, friends and neighbours and their interaction and bonds with one another. It is a book that you read to find out what happened next to brothers, sisters and neighbours- with the first world war, revolution, religious intolerance and poverty all taking a back seat, becoming mere events that direct the paths of the lives of the characters, but never overshadowing the strings of friendship and loyalty that hold the street where Harry lives together
A lovely book.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was fascinated firstly by the age of Harry Bernstein when he wrote this memoir. This intrigued me. Having read it now I can say that I wasn't disappointed. Harry grew up in an impoverished family and at time of great sadness and acute anxiety, yet his spirit shines through it all, and his story is told simply and without any bitterness or mawkishness.A must read! I have already passed it on to my sister to read.
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By Bookworm on 6 Jan. 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I was totally gripped by this book. It gave an insight into an era of English history that I had never really given much thought to: a sad reflection on me I fear. The clarity of description made me feel as if I knew these people and lived amongst them - Mr Bernstein's ability to bring you into his story is quite extraordinary and if it hasn't been done/thought of, has the makings of a very good film or, at the very least, a television docudrama. Thank you Mr Bernstein for bringing the past alive in a compassionate, sometimes very amusing and sad way but also in an unsentimental [mushy] way: it was such a pleasure to read and I was sorry to reach the end. I have no hesitation in thoroughly recommending this book and am looking forward to reading The Dream, the second in what I believe is to be a trilogy.
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