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The Life before Us: "Madame Rosa" [Paperback]

Romain Gary , Ralph Manheim , James Laughlin
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: New Directions (14 May 1986)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 081120961X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0811209618
  • Product Dimensions: 20.7 x 12.9 x 1.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 154,621 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


Momo, an orphaned Arab boy, struggles to help Madame Rosa, a dying former prostitute and survivor of Auschwitz, whose Paris boarding-house has sheltered other prostitutes' children.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
The first thing I have to tell you is that we lived on the seventh-floor walk-up, so you can take my word for it that Madame Rosa, with all the pounds she had to lug around with her, had more than her share of daily life with all its sorrows and cares. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
I have never read this book in the English translation, but I am sure that in any language, the feeling of it is the same. It is the story of an Arab child being raised by an old Jewish woman. And through them, the most beautiful and unusual love story emerges. There are several dualities within the book (Jewish/Arabic, Rich/Poor,Young/Old) but the narrator, as he is a child, sees no conflict here. Through Momo's eyes, the rich and old, the young and poor, all merge together into a sad and beautiful universe which is uniquely his and Madame Rosa's. It is one of the most beautiful books I have ever read and if your French skills are even moderate, I highly recommend you pick up a copy of the French, La Vie Devant Soi.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A dark, loving, ironic, perfect book. 18 Nov 1998
By A Customer
Whether or not you have seen the movie "Madame Rosa," read this book. I have never read such a painful book yet one so filled with love. Bittersweet? Sounds sappy, and this book is anything but. A mature meditation on childhood and, as in Gary's other work, the paradox of love and humanity after the Holocaust. This book is also a perfect exercise for developing writers (and translators) and a lesson in how a master author can create character and can use language to create an entire world.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Overwhelming1 29 July 1997
By A Customer
This book won the Prix GONCOURT UNDER A PSEUDONYM,meaning that France's highest literary prize went to an unknown author. It is an amazing tale of love and caring - rather sad, altogether. But I wish that modern novelists would have the scope of human knowledge, combined with imagination, that Gary brings to us. What a pity he died so young and is so unappreciated in our country.
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5.0 out of 5 stars What an unexpected delight 1 Sep 2013
By Rebecca
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This was chosen for me as a Book Club choice and I am very glad it was. Interesting, shocking, culturally eye-opening. Worth reading without a doubt.
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5.0 out of 5 stars One of my all-time favourites 4 Mar 2009
By Jenni
I first read this book in French when I was at university and I absolutely loved it! A friend bought me the English version too, and although a lot is lost in translation, the story is still marvellous! I LOVE THIS STORY! So sad, yet so funny. I recommend it to everyone. Momo is such as character!
This book is one of my all time favourites!
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