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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Izolda's Story
Whilst reading this remarkable book, it is difficult to focus on the story as being one of fact not fiction. Izolda's mission is to find Shayek, imprisoned during the Holocaust, the husband she so desperately loves. Her journey is the stuff of nightmares. Constantly having to make choices, often selfish to the detriment of others, she uses every means at her disposal to...
Published 8 months ago by ACB (swansea)

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0 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Chasing the King of Hearts
Over-rated. Sorry but this was not one that I would recommend. It just wasn't flowing for me and I was able to put it down easily at the end of each chapter! Maybe others might glow about it but it didn't do it for me.
Published 7 months ago by Blackdog


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Izolda's Story, 11 Nov 2013
By 
ACB (swansea) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Chasing the King of Hearts (Paperback)
Whilst reading this remarkable book, it is difficult to focus on the story as being one of fact not fiction. Izolda's mission is to find Shayek, imprisoned during the Holocaust, the husband she so desperately loves. Her journey is the stuff of nightmares. Constantly having to make choices, often selfish to the detriment of others, she uses every means at her disposal to succeed in her goal. Encountering rape, torture, hunger, repeated capture and imprisonment including Auschwitz, Izolda is driven by her belief that not only will she survive but is convinced, despite the mass murders surrounding her, that Shayek is alive. Altering her appearance, name, body language, using her nursing and linguistic skills help her slip from the most unlikely situations in Poland, Austria and Germany; yet simple errors sometimes catch her out. Her decision making is unorthodox and risky but combined with luck and considerable help from others, she survives, the only member of her family to do so.

The story of Izolda Regensberg is beautifully written by Hanna Krall, herself a survivor of the Warsaw ghetto and the Holocaust. The chapters are short and to the point, each covering a short piece in the catalogue of events that so dramatically and disturbingly bring this period to life. It is a love story but also one of a determination to fight against all odds at any cost to fight for her beliefs, survival and ultimate reunion with Sayek. A brave and outstanding book expertly translated by Philip Boehm.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Unsentimental journey, 13 May 2014
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This review is from: Chasing the King of Hearts (Paperback)
Izolda Regensburg's struggle to survive the Nazis, WWII and above all to find and free her husband Shayek, held in concentration camps, is told here in beautifully spare language. This isn't a long book but it manages to be both epic in scope and intensely personal in its depiction of an ordinary life made extraodinary by circumstances beyond her control. I haven't anywhere read such a powerful distillation of the difficulties of life during wartime, with its shortages and dangers, and the sacrifices, and contortions of identity, Jewish Izolda must undergo in order to reach her goal. The brutality of the regime, and of life generally, is conveyed as casually as it was practised, and Krall - herself a survivor of the ghetto - doesn't spare the reader the ugliness of violence or self-interest, nor the random nature of life, love and death.
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5.0 out of 5 stars New slant on holocaust survival, 10 Mar 2014
This review is from: Chasing the King of Hearts (Paperback)
An excellent, heartwarming story of love surviving the ghetto, the camps and the holocaust. Such a strong and admirable heroine.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A wartime love story, but so much more, 31 Oct 2013
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This review is from: Chasing the King of Hearts (Paperback)
A miracle of compression, this latest in a series of European novellas published in English by the enterprising Peirene Press packs an emotional punch most much lengthier books can only dream of. It reads as a novel, yet it is based closely on the story of a real Izolda as recounted to the author in great detail.

In the book Izolda, like Hannah Krall herself a resident of the Warsaw ghetto under Nazi occupation, marries and promptly loses her husband Shayek to imprisonment. Determined to find and release him, she escapes from and returns to Warsaw via Vienna, Auschwitz and points in between, forever seeking news of her King of Hearts.

The style of writing, with its pared-down, matter-of-fact sentences and short chapters, deliberately evinces a lightness of tone out of all keeping with the story that unfolds. These could almost be the picaresque adventures of a nave but resourceful young woman on a road trip, yet along the way Izolda is beaten, raped and imprisoned. Forced to adopt multiple identities, Jewish or Polish, smuggler or prostitute, messenger or nurse according to circumstance, her attractiveness for the reader stems from her resolve to survive everything the war can throw at her aided only by her wits, the kindness of strangers and the `deals' she makes with God.

This is in on one level a love story, since her love for her husband is ostensibly what gives Izolda the strength to persevere, yet that love is neither substantiated or reciprocated. Instead there is a strong sense of the arbitrary at work here, with the apparent rashness of some of Izolda's actions contrasted with other people's more rational decisions that nonetheless don't save them.

`Chasing the King of Hearts' doesn't concern itself with the statistics of horror. Instead it tells and strongly empathises with peoples' individual stories and fates. It examines how those who have lost their families and loved ones have to piece together a sense of themselves to achieve some sort of resolution / identity as the basis of their lives to follow. Izolda and Shayek fare differently in their attempts at this and the latter part of the book shows how the next generation can also struggle with deciding who they are and how and whether they can, or even should, fit into a cultural continuum.

The author's work finds a wonderful counterpart in Philip Boehm's translation - see also Herta Muller's `The Hunger Angel' or Stefan Chwin's `Death in Danzig' for confirmation of his skills.
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5.0 out of 5 stars 'The outstanding specialist at surviving', 14 Oct 2013
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Eleanor (Oxford, England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Chasing the King of Hearts (Paperback)
"Chasing the King of Hearts" is a short novel dense with things to think about and savour. It is an account of one Polish woman's attempt to survive the Holocaust and be reunited with her beloved husband, 'the king of hearts'. Krall has written a rich, subversive, and clever book which also feels very real. Izolda, her protagonist, comes vividly to life and the reader, seeing her photograph on the final page, can say 'yes, that's her'.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The Holocaust on Speed, 12 Oct 2013
This review is from: Chasing the King of Hearts (Paperback)
A young Jewish woman seeks her missing husband in the chaos and brutality of Poland during the World War Two German occupation. This is a strange book; an account of persecution and the holocaust as if by someone on mind- altering drugs ('Clouds pass under the light, filling themselves with gold and violet, and float down towards the earth. She'd never seen the sun rise more beautifully than it did at Auschwitz....', P102). At first I found the style and effect hard to understand, until it occurred to me that maybe these horrors did seem to those experiencing them like some astonishing, dreadful hallucination.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, 5 Sep 2013
This review is from: Chasing the King of Hearts (Paperback)
Beautifully written, this novel tells the story of one young Polish Jewish woman,Izolda, who navigates the horror of the Warsaw Ghetto in wartime Germany with her own agenda of saving her husband -the King of Hearts. When people live in extreme situations where their freedom, their life or the lives of those they love, could end at any time, perhaps through some action or inaction on their part, or perhaps by some piece or random luck, they still have to get up each morning and work out how best to continue trying and that is what this story is about.The Holocaust is not just a backdrop for this human story: the witness it bears to those events that the author Hanna Krall brings to it as a survivor herself of the Warsaw Ghetto- has authenticity and power.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Jewish Wedding., 17 Jan 2014
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This review is from: Chasing the King of Hearts (Paperback)
Brilliant book...learned such a lot. Wish I had spotted the Yiddish glossary in the back before Googling every word I didn`t know.
Have recommended it to a friend whose nephew is marrying a Jewish girl. Really excellent....author`s knowledge is amazing.
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0 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Chasing the King of Hearts, 5 Dec 2013
This review is from: Chasing the King of Hearts (Paperback)
Over-rated. Sorry but this was not one that I would recommend. It just wasn't flowing for me and I was able to put it down easily at the end of each chapter! Maybe others might glow about it but it didn't do it for me.
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Chasing the King of Hearts
Chasing the King of Hearts by Hanna Krall (Paperback - 1 Sep 2013)
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